Last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I was in Saskatoon along with my fellow League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) members for the LEADS Annual Policy Conference. This past year, Horizon's own Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, served as the President of our professional organization. The Annual Policy Conference is a great opportunity for learning and discussion for all LEADS members and this year, we were fortunate to have a keynote from Dr. George Couros, U of R professor and former Horizon graduate. We also had the opportunity to discuss the legal and legislative concerns for staff when using social media. There has been a significant change to the LAFOIP Act, and stiffer penalties exist for knowingly sharing personal information, including fines that have gone from a maximum of $1000 to a maximum of $50,000. If anyone is wondering whether something should be posted, I strongly recommend checking the legislations or contacting my office.
On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings last week, I joined members of School Community Councils (SCCs) from across our system at Horizon's annual SCC workshops. These were held in Lanigan Central High School on Tuesday and Wadena Composite High School on Wednesday. Members of Horizon's Board and central office staff joined our SCCs for the evening events. Our workshops are an opportunity for SCC members to come together, exchange ideas, learn more about our work as a Division and get to know other SCCs across the system. During the workshops, I had the pleasure of discussing Saskatchewan's Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and how that plan informs Horizon's Three Foundational Goals: Safe & Caring, Literacy and Assessment. Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, discussed our Safe & Caring work. Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt, shared a presentation about our work in Literacy. Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman and Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt, discussed the budgeting process and our work in Information Services, Transportation Services and Facility Services. Following the presentations, SCC members had the opportunity to discuss local issues and share ideas with their counterparts from neighbouring Horizon schools. We had a tremendous turnout for each evening and are very grateful to all who attended. I want to thank Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, and his team – Administrative Assistant, Nicole Fitzpatrick, in particular – for their work in coordinating the workshops. Feedback on the events will be gathered in the upcoming days so that we can continue to ensure the process is meeting the needs of our SCCs.
I began my morning on Wednesday in a teleconference with the Education Governance Review (EGR): Organizational Staffing and Design Team. It was followed by a Skype meeting with my Director's Leadership Team (DLT) of school administrators and senior leadership. The DLT had discussions relating to a number of important items for our system in the coming weeks and months. I sat down with Mr. Larry Mikulcik, Horizon's Curriculum Coach, to discuss our upcoming Horizon Holocaust and Human Rights Symposium. This will be the fourth year for the annual symposium that sees all Horizon (and Englefeld) grade 11 students taking part in the sessions. This year's event takes place on April 17th and I want to thank Larry for his dedication and expertise in coordinating this learning opportunity for our students and staff.
I also sat down Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, who organized a meeting with Brian Kusch, Jonathan Charlton and Sarah Miller of Bolt FM. Our purpose of setting up the meeting was to discuss Horizon's critical partnership with Bolt FM, and our shared work to keep our communities and stakeholders informed about celebrations and other matters of importance from across the division. We value our relationship with Bolt FM and other local media outlets as the communication that is shared is deeply valuable for our system and the public.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down with Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman, to discuss Horizon's audit and budgeting process. I then travelled to Wadena and met with Wadena Composite Principal, Darin Faubert, to discuss the school's Learning Improvement Plan (LIP). Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paprsoki, joined in this LIP review.
Prior to our SCC workshop, I joined our Board table officers, Chair, Jim Hack and Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel, for a meeting to set the agenda for next week's Board meeting. On Thursday, I took part in a Health and Education partnership meeting with Saskatoon Health partners and then travelled to Ituna to join the welcome banquet that kicked-off Girls Curling Provincials. The community, staff and students of Ituna School did an outstanding job of hosting the championship and I would like to thank Principal Brittany Frick and teacher, Cindy Yanko for their leadership in organizing the event. I also want to thank Ituna School graduate, Natalie Yanko, for delivering a keynote speech at the welcome banquet. Natalie is a competitive curler whose team won silver in the World Juniors in 2011. The opportunity to have a Horizon graduate share her success story with young students from across the province was very powerful. Thank you, Natalie, for offering inspiration to a new generation of student athletes. Congratulations to all curlers on a fantastic competition.
On Friday, I joined a teleconference with the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) of Directors and Ministry of Education personnel where I shared more about the impending provincial Math sharing day. I wrapped up my day by joining members of Horizon's Board in a professional development session entitled "Improving Audit Committee Effectiveness". I am grateful that Horizon's Board is commitment to learning as their work reflects greatly on the work that goes on in classrooms across our system. As author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey once said, "The key to success is dedication to life-long learning".
Finally, I want to address the importance of honouring and respecting each other. I find it fitting that this past week, we pay tribute to one of the most important days on our calendars, International Women's Day. In my mind, it stands for the removal of sexism, racism, and prejudice and supports the need for acceptance, pride, and love. I want to draw on an important quote by famed author, Harper Lee. She eloquently said of other people, "They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience". We rarely have to deal with situations where the things that are said or written have a direct and negative impact on another person's values, beliefs, or culture. When it does happen, our system responds quickly with three main intents: 1. To put processes, structures, and sanctions in place in an attempt to prevent it from happening again. 2. To mitigate the feelings of hurt on those who have been impacted by the statements or actions. 3. To mitigate the feelings of pain or insensitivity that are obvious by those who are the perpetrators of the statements or actions. I want to remind our staff to continue their good work in sharing with students the importance of honouring one another. Education is truly the greatest change agent we have in our society. All this said, when mistakes are made and pain and hurt are the result, those impacted need to address their concerns with adults in the school and at home. Through our laser-focused view on safe and caring, Horizon will continue to address any and all issues on behalf of students and staff as we work at "Creating a better world, one student at a time".
Have a great week, everyone.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org