As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to begin this week by reflecting on a few of the highlights from the past 12 months in Horizon. It seems like yesterday that we began addressing an annual provincial budget that would provide Horizon with significantly less money to operate. Yet through the hard work of our Board, our central office, and school-based leaders and staff, we continued to boast one of the lowest Pupil-Teacher ratios in the entire province of Saskatchewan. We came back to school in August to our Celebration Day, honouring illustrious Horizon graduates with our annual Wall of Fame induction ceremony and presenting staff with Years of Service Awards. The first annual Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremony, celebrating our professional teaching staff, was held with a number of teachers being recognized for their outstanding commitment to their colleagues and their children. We also unveiled Horizon's new Vision, Mission, and Values, which was developed by our Board of Education in order to model the culture, ideals, and moral standards of our system. Our efforts this year have continued in support of our three foundational goals of Literacy, Safe & Caring, and Assessment. We continue to see improvement in Horizon's literacy results thanks to the focus of our Board and our staff and the dedication of our students and our families. Our Safe & Caring efforts continued with our Traumatic Events Response Teams and Violent Threat Risk Assessment teams supporting students and staff in our schools. We suffered greatly in dealing with loss this past fall, as we addressed the unexpected passing of our friend and teacher, Mr. Ricky Block and the equally shocking loss of one of our own children from Raymore School, Phoenix Purdue. They will be fondly remembered as part of our Horizon family.
Work continued as Horizon teachers and administrators collaborated to create common assessment processes and items in the number strand in mathematics. Our work has been exciting and inspiring as we prepare for a provincial level assessment in 2018-19 as part of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). Of course we spent the last year preparing for the writing assessment as part of the ESSP and our efforts will most certainly reveal great success for our students in the spring of 2018. After nearly a year and a half, we finally confirmed the construction of our administration facility in Humboldt; a much needed building that will consolidate our Board and central office and give us a place to call home when Olymel takes over full operation of their facility in February of 2019. The ground has been broken for the project and it comes hot on the heels of the completion of a construction downsizing in Rose Valley and the major remodeling project in St. Brieux. Rose Valley, which boasted having the longest hallway in a Saskatchewan School, had the oldest section of the school lopped off, losing that distinguished title. I think the title belongs to Cudworth now! St. Brieux's renovation is absolutely stunning and we are incredibly grateful for the flexibility of the students and staff who endured the renovations for the last two years. Well, no more! Of course plans are being finalized for the amalgamation between Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division and Horizon in the 2018-19 school year. We look forward to our Horizon family growing a little larger. Certainly the long-standing apprehensions between the community and the legacy Horizon division is no longer and a strong, trusting relationship has taken root.
This much and so much more has happened this past year, and our efforts as a Horizon family point to an exciting future for our students, our staff, our schools, and our communities. I am humbled every day I work here and I continue to be grateful for each one of you who work so hard to make Horizon the best place on earth to work and learn.
There were also many highlights this past week. Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, and I travelled to Lake Lenore to join trustee Linda Mattock and principal, Ralph Viczko at the Lake Lenore School SRC Christmas Banquet. We had a great time and appreciated the opportunity. Linda, Marilyn, and I then travelled to Three Lakes School in Middle Lake for a meeting with Principal Trevor Otsig and members of his School Community Council (SCC), including chair, Ryan Schnee. We had a tremendous discussion around the potential of international student recruitment and Linda and I confirmed that we would bring the discussion to the Board for their consideration. In years past, it likely didn't make sense to put a whole lot of effort into recruiting international students. As much as it is a tremendous opportunity for Horizon youth to become more globally aware through the lasting relationships built with international children, the costs associated with recruitment were prohibitive. No one could question that the increased numbers of children would be beneficial to our overall work as leaders in education. However, the fact remained that moving forward was unaffordable. This year, precipitated by a change in the funding formula, international students are not only funded at approximately 7/12th of a resident child, any tuition charged by the school division is maintained by the division. This means that the worthwhile nature of bringing global children into Horizon has now become a positive endeavor financially. I will continue to share more about this potential opportunity for our school division in the upcoming weeks and months.
Horizon's Board of Education held their last meeting of 2017 this past week. During the very productive and efficient meeting, we discussed the recent committee work, the development of Horizon's 2018-19 school year calendar, quarterly reports from Finance Services and Operational Services, and updates from Human Resource Services. We also enjoyed a presentation from Imperial School Principal, Carol Baade, who shared information about the Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) event that took place in Imperial last year. Since that event, the school has used the data collected to focus their school on their journey from good to great. I want to thank Carol for joining our meeting via Skype and providing our Board with an update on their incredible work. For lunch on Wednesday, the Board hosted our central office staff for a Christmas potluck, which was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy each others company just prior to the break. We owe a great deal of our success to our Board and they have appreciated our efforts as staff, as evidenced in Board Chair, Jim Hack's statement below.
"I want to begin this message with a heartfelt "thank you" to Horizon's staff. As we turn the page on another calendar year, I am so grateful to our staff for this past year of growth and improvement for Horizon students and schools. We have continued our focus on Horizon's Three Foundational Goals of Literacy, Safe & Caring and Assessment. This fall, we introduced our new vision statement for Horizon School Division – "Creating a Better World, One Student at a Time". In classrooms, facilities, school buses, offices and everywhere in between, our remarkable staff is committed to the success of our students. This work brings our vision statement to life, and for that, I thank you all. Thank you to our education partners, community members and First Nation authorities for your continued collaboration and support. These relationships benefit students every day, and we are very grateful to enjoy such great partnerships across our system.Thank you to my fellow Trustees on the Board of Education. Your work, guidance and commitment to the students, staff and families of Horizon School Division makes me proud to be a member of this Board. On behalf of the Board, we wish you a safe and joyous holiday season. Enjoy your well-earned break, and we will look forward to seeing you all back in classrooms in the New Year.
Schools have enjoyed an early dismissal on Friday afternoon to allow our students, staffs, and families to begin their holiday celebrations just a little earlier. I was able to get everyone out of Horizon office a little early, as well, which gave me the opportunity to finish "This Week in Horizon". So everyone is aware, our central office will be open again beginning December 27, 2017. Like most, I am looking forward to the break. I absolutely love this time of the year. However, it seems like there are just not enough hours in the day. I hoped to get to some of the schools to be with our staff and students but I never came close to accomplishing what I hoped. I was able to make it to Drake and Lanigan to share my well-wishes with any students and staff I saw - even helping a few math students prepare for an exam at Lanigan Central. But I still felt a little torn having missed getting to the other 39 schools in our system. I suppose they will be first on my list for 2018.
Personally, I am going to head to southern Alberta to be with family on December 23rd and then travel home on the 26th to spend time with my boys, who will be traveling from northern Alberta. I plan to catch up on some reading and relaxation and I ask each of you to do the same. Education is the noblest profession there is in my mind and it takes such incredible energy to give our students what they need each and every day. I thank each of one of you for taking this on without reservation. It's also the reason I want you to take the holidays to relax and recharge. We will be welcoming our students back to our busses and our classrooms on January 8, 2018 to begin what I know will be the most incredible year yet for Horizon School Division.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May you enjoy health and happiness this holiday season. I look forward to working with you in 2018.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org