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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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March 18, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

The month of March for our students and staff is only a week away from ending with the Easter break nearly upon us. I know you would agree that this has been as busy a month for our students and staff across Horizon as any month in our calendar. With ski trip opportunities, school and regional science fairs, school “pink” days and students participating in e-journalism, drama, dance and musical productions, our students continue to be significantly involved in and out of our schools. I had the pleasure of attending some of these events and it always warms my heart to be present to celebrate the successes of our students. Horizon has also had its own “March Madness” of sorts as sporting events such as curling, badminton, hockey and basketball either ramped up or wrapped up. At the beginning of the month, Muenster’s boys’ team captured a silver medal at the curling provincials and numerous other teams vied throughout the season for their own “medals” of success. Volleyball continued in full swing for many Horizon students as they participated in club tournaments which included Sask Cup in Regina and tournaments in locales such as Bruno, Melfort and Muenster. Of course the big basketball “court classic”, Hoopla, took place in Moose Jaw at the end of this past week and basketball fans from across Saskatchewan gathered to enjoy some exciting high school championship action. Four Horizon teams were in the provincial final this year including Humboldt Collegiate Institute (girls), Three Lakes School (girls), St. Brieux School (boys) and Wynyard Composite High School (girls). Horizon school teams routinely make our Division proud through their commitment to sportsmanship and skill development and these four teams had a unique chance to cap off their seasons with a championship caliber tournament.

As we near the end of March and begin to look toward the last few months of the school year, I enjoy reflecting on the fact that our students have had opportunities to test themselves, work on teamwork skills and build confidence in order to excel in any of their chosen pursuits. I continue to be extremely proud of all of our students as they strive to reach beyond their desired level of performance in their areas of passion through their personal investments in time and their commitment to individual and team success. Of course, these opportunities are not possible without high levels of commitment and engagement from our staff, parents and communities and I would just like to take this opportunity to once again thank each of you for making these opportunities possible for our kids.      

Last Monday began with a return to the boardroom table for CUPE negotiations. I am proud to report, once again, that talks between our Horizon staff who are negotiating for CUPE and the Division negotiating team have been both positive and productive. I have always believed that negotiating with our unionized employees is simply a required business process and that maintaining relationship is much easier when this paradigm is shared. We continue to make great progress on this agreement and I look forward to continued success in our upcoming meetings. Though our CUPE meeting occupied most of the day, I took a brief break from negotiations to engage in a conference call discussion regarding the Education Sector Strategic Plan’s Operational Spending Outcome. I continue to own this sector outcome as part of the Provincial Leadership Team while our current discussions concern the future look of the ESSP.

Prior to negotiations, I had the chance to spend some time to be present at HCI for the final collaboration day of the school year for our Horizon teachers. We continue to provide opportunities for our teachers to connect, to share instructional strategies, to build trust and transparency and to discuss and celebrate learning through sharing student results. Your continued dialogue around these important professional learnings are able to be much easier with the technology we are establishing within our school division. 2016-17 will continue to see a strong focus on collaboration, however, with Summit Saskatoon occurring this year, one of our days will be committed to that outstanding PD opportunity for any of our teachers who desire to attend. I look forward to sharing more about the Summit in the upcoming weeks. This was also our collaborative learning day for our caretakers and I joined them during their lunch break to share a message of thanks for the work they do in supporting our schools and, ultimately our students. This day brought teachers and caretakers to Humboldt to engage in conversations and professional development opportunities with their colleagues and peers.  

On Tuesday morning, I joined our central office staff members and principals and vice-principals in Horizon and Englefeld for the March Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) meeting. This was the first time that the entire meeting was held via Skype, allowing school administrators to remain in their buildings. I want to thank our Information Services team for their preparation and expertise in ensuring the meeting went off without a hitch. It was certainly an experiment I feel is necessary in our system when we consider the geography of Horizon School Division and the opportunity this will have for future meetings. Engaging with the DLT in this fashion was well received and we will continue to explore how to best use tools like Skype, Google and other technologies to support our collaborative work with a focus on ensuring effectiveness while finding necessary efficiencies.

Following the DLT meeting, I spent some significant time with our Senior Leadership Team and then focused the rest of my afternoon on bussing in Horizon School Division. Transportation is a critical service in our system and ensuring the safety of our students is a high priority of our Board of Education and my office. We are fortunate to have bus drivers, both employees and contracted service employees, who care as much as all of us about ensuring our children are able to arrive safely to school and to their homes. We have recently gone to tender regarding our bussing needs and I will be able to share more once future decisions are made.

On Wednesday, Horizon School Division held its first-ever ROSE process at Three Lakes School. ROSE (Review of School Effectiveness) is a process that has been developed according to the 7 correlates of highly effective schools, research that has been perfected by Dr. Larry Lezotte, renowned educator and instructional expert. The process used in ROSE focuses on an appreciative inquiry to gather positive information and feedback regarding the school from students, parents/caregivers, administrators, teachers and support staff. Providing the feedback to the school, our Board of Education and me and is an opportunity to not only celebrate the strengths, achievements and successes of our educational environments, but to look at the potential of improving learning in the school. Our ROSE process at Three Lakes set a very high standard for our system and I would like to thank Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski and Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services as well as our support personnel for the preparation and work to ensure this process went smoothly. I would also like to share a huge thank you to Principal Clayton Parobec and his staff for their generous welcome and their outstanding work to ensure the day was meaningful and beneficial for all involved. I had the pleasure to meet with students and support staff throughout the day and I want to thank each of them for engaging in the discussions throughout the focus group conversations. Finally, I would also like to thank the parents and SCC members who shared their ideas and thoughts during the evening meeting. Further ROSE processes will be held at Drake School and Rose Valley School later in April and I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate the work of staff at each of those schools.

I had the opportunity to travel to Strasbourg on Thursday morning for the Carleton Trail Regional Science Fair at William Derby School. Grades 4-12 students from across Horizon School Division and Englefeld School joined in the event celebrating curiosity, innovation and exploration. The day was made possible by the work of countless teachers, parents/caregivers, support staff and in particular, principal, Deb Schwandt-Kelln and teachers Gerard Frison and Lorne Gottselig, who coordinated the fair. You may have heard that Grade 11 student from Watson School, Teresa Deng, won the day’s top prize and will be moving on to compete in Montreal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair this May. I would like to congratulate Teresa on her remarkable entry, titled “Algae to Biofuel”, as well as each and every one of our students who were able to participate in the fair and share their own science-related discoveries.

Thursday night, I had the opportunity to attend Quill Lake School’s dessert theatre, courtesy of the invitation from principal, Michele Presber. Not only did I enjoy some terrific desserts provided by parents, staff and community, I thoroughly enjoyed the live productions of two short comedies. The first, “A Murdered Mystery”, was acted out by grade 7 and 8 students, while the second, “How to Survive High School”, was put on by high school students. Both were exceptional and the work the students, staff and parents did in preparation paid off in great performances by all and a lot of laughs by yours truly.

I had the pleasure of returning to Strasbourg on Friday, this time joining members of our Board for a lunch with William Derby staff. You may recall that WDS won the Celebration Day Lunch at our opening day celebration this past August, and Friday was the day this lunch was redeemed. I had the opportunity to join our trustees in noon hour supervision while staff enjoyed their lunch. Later, the trustees and I delivered cake to each and every classroom in the school, ensuring our students were able to join in the lunch celebration. Their smiling faces and the appreciation of this gesture by the staff certainly made the entire afternoon worthwhile. 

While I was in Strasbourg with trustees on Friday, the inter-agency committee at George Gordon was joined by Sgt. Constance Roussel of the Prince Albert RCMP who shared information regarding Hub and CoR. The Hub is a team of designated staff from community agencies and government ministries who meet twice weekly to discuss community issues and develop a coordinated mobilization of resources. CoR (Centre of Responsibility) is the component whose focus is on the broader notion of community safety and wellness. Horizon’s Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Supervisor of First Nation and Métis Education Services, Joanne Cunningham, First Nation and Métis Liaison Officer, Lester Gardiner, and our Horizon Outreach Workers were on-hand as part of this presentation. This work is a major component of our community partnerships and I appreciate that we are making some headway as this will most certainly lead to better supports for our students.  

Last week, we received yet another reason to celebrate staff in Horizon School Division. Mr. Larry Mikulcik of William Derby School has been awarded with the Cantor Kraus Catalyst for Change Award by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem. Mr. Mikulcik has been invited to receive this award at the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa this May. This is certainly a well-deserved award for all of Mr. Mikulcik’s work, including the work to establish Horizon’s now-annual Holocaust Symposium, and I hope that everyone will join me in congratulating Larry on this recognition.   

On Sunday evening, I will be joining our trustees and educators and leaders from across Canada for the 21st National Congress on Rural Education in Saskatoon. The conference will be host to approximately 400 people, hearing from keynote speakers and participating in breakout sessions, which will include presentations from Horizon School Division. This year, the Rural Congress is being covered by a team of e-journalists, 18 students from Horizon School Division and Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division. Horizon was invited to provide our students the opportunity to take photos, videos, conduct interviews, engage social media and develop multimedia presentations so that delegates and others outside the conference can follow along with the events from the Congress. Our students and staff will be meeting in Saskatoon on Sunday afternoon to begin their work with a view to gaining a tremendous level of experience at this national event. I want to thank those staff members who have agreed to support our students at the event and especially thank Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, for his work in leading the event. I look forward to participating in their work at Rural Congress over the next three days.

Have a great week, everyone.


-Kevin


Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205