This Week in Horizon » January, 2023

January, 2023

Image of Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education for Horizon School DivisionA message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
 
 
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205
kevin.garinger[at]horizonsd.ca
 
 
 
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A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
 
Good morning, everyone! 
I hope that you had a great holiday and are back into the swing of things after the Christmas break. I had the opportunity to spend part of my holiday season with my granddaughter. It was so fun to have a four year old in my home excited for Christmas morning. Laura Ingalls-Wilder said, “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time”. 
 
I certainly felt the love of my family and my little Kyla helped me remember what it is like to be a child again! I also took time right at the end of the break to travel to Calgary with my brother and then to Edmonton to visit my oldest two sons. I had the opportunity to watch a couple of hockey games with my family, something I very much enjoyed.  My other two sons were not able to come home this holiday, something I know many of you who are parents start experiencing the older our children get. This was certainly a wonderful way to end the week before children and all staff returned to school this past week. 
 
I hope each of you had time to spend with your loved ones and to enjoy a very well-deserved and relaxing break. Just prior to the break, I was able to get into many of our schools and see some of you. I also enjoy the chance to talk and hear how things are going or how the holidays are shaping up. Each conversation I have with you is important as I value greatly who our people are and the work you do in support of our most prized possessions... our children. I had many wonderful discussions and one of those conversations was with one of our caretakers who shared his story of dealing with cancer. As challenging as his last few years have been, I couldn’t help but marvel at how positive he was about his work. He talked passionately about the impact he was obviously having on students and staff and he shared stories of how he has had the opportunity to change the lives of families abroad. I have thought deeply about our conversation many times and I know he is an inspiration for all who know him. He has been my inspiration this holiday…a reminder to cherish every moment we have in this life and to always do our best to make a difference in others’ lives.
 
To all of you who do, thank you for giving me some of your valuable time. 
And here we are... well into 2023. I think about this quote by T. S. Eliot who said, “Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” 

This past fall, we asked staff, “What motivates you to do your work and be the best for students?” We heard some amazing, inspiring feedback, and thought that we’d start the calendar year sharing some of your thoughts from 2022: 
 
“Love. Sounds kind of corny but it's true. I love my students, my staff, my school, my community... I love making a positive difference each day.”


“The students; when you can see their engagement and when they get excited to learn! The students are why I got into this profession and sometimes with all the extra work we forget that.”


“Our students are worth it! Every child is worth our time, love, and acceptance. Our work is a reflection of how we view our children.” 
 
When I think about the last week of 2022, much of it was spent in schools. I also got to meet with the Board of Education in their final regular meeting of 2022. 
 
Many things were discussed, but in particular, they heard that things are optimistic with respect to the Lanigan Joint School project. We have our architects doing some minor redesign of the building, and we understand that these changes required by SaskBuilds and Procurement are important for us to gain approval for moving forward with construction. 
 
We plan to have the redesign completed by this upcoming week and hope to hear more about the potential for approval by February. We anticipate very exciting times ahead in 2023 with respect to the project.
There are so many amazing things that happened in 2022 but like all of you, I look very forward to making 2023 the best year yet. 
_______________________________________
Directors’ Leadership Team (DLT) Meeting

We met virtually on Tuesday last week and heard from the Senior Leadership Team with various updates and information. It was great to reconnect with administrators and get things in order for Excellence in Teaching nominations, SCC elections, AGMs, and much more. 
 
Board Agenda Meeting

We met to prepare for the upcoming regular Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Board Chair Jim Hack and Vice-Chair Linda Mattock joined Sandy Gessner, COO Justin Arendt, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, and Communications Officer Jesse Green and I for the meeting. We are set for our regular board meeting next week.
 
LEADS Executive Board Meeting

I met with the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) executive for my last formal meeting as president. It has been an honour to serve in this capacity, and I look forward to seeing the excellent work that will continue with Jason Young, president-elect and Director of Education for Northern Lights School Division. 
_______________________________________
 
I spent Saturday morning refereeing volleyball at Wakaw School at an 18U tournament before heading to Regina to referee a university match that also involved some of our own students. It is always great to see our students doing so well in the activities of their choice. Watching the athletes work together and grow in skill and confidence reminded me of this quote by author and publisher, R. Collier: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated.”
Have a great week, everyone!  

-Kevin

A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
 
I want to begin This Week by offering the best of luck to our senior students who are preparing for exams this week! It is hard to believe we’re almost halfway through the school year. Tempus fugit!! 
 
Many schools’ drama clubs performed before Christmas, but art, music, and drama groups run throughout the year and I applaud the staff who support our students as they explore the arts. 
 
Although most of you are likely aware, I wanted to share the extremely sad news that Lorne White passed away last month. Lorne was a longtime employee of Horizon, delivering parcels to our schools and facilities and brightening the day of those he visited with along the way. Helen Keller said, “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” We will miss Lorne’s kindness and positivity and we join his family and friends in mourning his loss. 
 
Strategic Plan Review - LEADS
I met with League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) members, including members of Horizon’s Senior Leadership Team on Monday afternoon to review and provide feedback on the LEADS strategic plan. As an organization, LEADS has regulatory and statutory responsibilities for its members who include supervisors, superintendents, and directors who are educators. In our organization, this would include Superintendents Trish Maxwell, Jacquie Bergerman, Cory Popoff, Bryan McNabb, and Terry Leibel along with myself. LEADS itself was the only professional organization in Canada for senior leaders in education, until this year when Alberta’s members (CASS - College of Alberta School Superintendents) gained legislative rights.  
 
Learning Improvement Plans (LIP)
Superintendent of Learning Trish Maxwell and I were able to complete the last LIP review with Drake School on Tuesday morning, as we met with principal Nadine Jennison. Nadine had been away in the weeks leading up to Christmas so it was great to finally sit down and take a look at the results of Drake students and the planning her school staff are engaged in as they work to continually improve student learning. Later that day, I met with the Senior Leadership Team to review and debrief the fall LIP meetings. The value of these meetings is unquestioned and I know I look forward to meeting with administrators in the spring to revisit their plans.
 
Board Meeting
The Board of Education held the regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. You can read about meeting highlights in the From the Board newsletter that will be ready in the next week. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to engage with the Board in discussions related to their vision and mission, and this month, I was glad to welcome Superintendent Bryan McNabb to the table to discuss the Board’s strategic focus on Indigenous education. Bryan shared many of the great examples of work that are ongoing in Horizon, much of which relates to many of you, our staff in schools. 
 
First and Second-Year Administrators meetings
Our newest administrators are supported in a number of ways, including regular meetings focussed on development and collaboration led by Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff. Where possible, Superintendents Bryan McNabb, Jacquie Bergerman, Terry Leibel, and Trish Maxwell join Cory and I in sharing during the virtual meetings that are held. The discussions are very good and I appreciate the work of the administrators in preparing for these meetings. 
 
Métis Nation of Saskatchewan 
Before heading out to schools, Superintendent of Indigenous Education Bryan McNabb and I joined a meeting with the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and other Saskatchewan school division personnel for a virtual check-in on Friday. As you are likely aware, Horizon is in search of a Métis coach to support Michif language and culture in our schools. The Métis Nation of Saskatchewan is funding this opportunity for a teacher to move into this important role, so if you know someone who may be interested, please let my office know.
 
As I did last week, I want to end by sharing more of what we heard in August when we asked staff, “What motivates you to do your work and be the best for students?” We heard some amazing, inspiring feedback, and thought that we’d continue to start this calendar year by sharing some of your thoughts:
 
“Seeing student success and daily happiness. There is nothing like seeing enjoyment in students and the laughter that comes with it. Who doesn't need this everyday?”
 
“Seeing the faces of the kids when they have that “aha”moment when explaining a concept to them! It makes them feel good about themselves and become a better student.”
 
“I’m so excited to see the students’ smiling faces as they return to school. It makes students happy to come together to learn in a safe and caring space.”
 
 
Happy Monday, everyone! Have a tremendous week with our most prized possessions in the world, our children!
 
-Kevin
A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
 
Welcome to Semester 2, Horizon!
 
Last week was Family Literacy Week and we saw schools celebrate the magic of literacy in many creative ways. Education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzi said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” Wonderful to see SCCs and school communities invited into schools to celebrate literacy — great work, everyone!
 
Family Literacy Event at Schell School
Schell School’s SCC planned daily activities to celebrate Family Literacy Week and on Monday, each student was invited to invite a special guest (caregiver, grandparent, family friend etc). I was lucky to be invited as one of these special guests, and spent time reading with the students. This was an excellent start to my work week! Great job to Schell School’s SCC and principal Alisha Demmings  - I know it comes up at the Board table quite regularly how much value our SCC volunteers add to the school experience. This is just another example of what our Horizon SCCs do to contribute to the learning growth of our children.  
 
Data Discussion
CFO Sandy Gessner and I met with SaskTel representative Deanna Kleibor to discuss Horizon School Division’s data needs. SaskTel is a significant partner in education and Horizon has been working closely with Deanna to support the work of our systems related to cyber security and other technology needs. A prime example of this partnership was the cyber security PD that staff across Horizon were required to complete in the last few weeks. Education is critical as the more each of us learns about securing our systems, the less likely we will end up with a serious breach that could do serious damage to our organization. Thank you to everyone for completing this important assessment.  
 
Leader in Me - FranklinCovey
Superintendent Terry Leibel and I met with Anthea Boras, our client partner from FranklinCovey to discuss the Leader in Me program. FranklinCovey has implemented some changes to their processes for schools and divisions to access their programs, making it much more affordable to bring schools online with this valuable resource. They have also restructured the program so it applies to elementary and high schools, and have even implemented other structures that support boards in their governance work. Currently, Horizon has two schools that are using The Leader in Me in an extensive fashion and we look forward to the potential of others getting onboard in the years to come.  
 
Administrative Procedure Review
On Tuesday morning I met with the Senior Leadership Team to review an Administrative Procedure. As usual, we will let the Directors’ Leadership Team know about any changes and updates during our regular meetings. In particular, we focused on APs related to student needs including AP 315 - Seclusion and Restraint. Obviously, this AP speaks to the importance of using these techniques as a last resort to ensuring student and staff safety. It is an extremely rare occasion that a staff member would need to physically put themselves in a situation where they would need to physically touch a student. We strongly encourage staff never to engage in this type of behaviour. However, when these extremely rare situations occur, it is valuable to have the training that is provided through my office and our counsellors on how to do this effectively. I know Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman, Cory, Popoff, and Terry Leibel are continuing the education on this topic and I appreciate the work that is needed to ensure staff understand the processes and protocols in our system through Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) training. 
 
School Meetings
Last week, I had the opportunity to spend some valuable time in some of our schools, meeting with principals and connecting with staff and students. As always, I appreciate the very warm welcome that parents and other visitors receive when they are in our schools, and although you likely do not consider me a “visitor” (although our kids likely do), I am always thankful for the way in which staff and students welcome me into their classrooms. The work happens there and it is easily my favourite place to be at any time.  
 
Enriched Academy
Superintendent Terry Leibel and I met with Kevin McCarthy from the Enriched Academy on Wednesday morning to discuss Financial Literacy in Horizon. Enriched Academy is a financial literacy company that not only provides curriculum supports at the elementary and high schools levels, they also have a component that relates to supporting staff. As many of you know, one of the biggest stressors in adults’ lives is finances and their program has demonstrated tremendous results for students and staff alike in provinces like Alberta. I look forward to learning more and sharing more with you as we understand the direction Saskatchewan takes with this important resource.
 
Subdivision 11 Trustee
Wednesday was the last day for nominations to be accepted for the Board of Education Subdivision 11 trustee position. Sandy Gessner, our CFO and the byelection Returning Officer, gave notice that Mrs. Irma Anderson has been elected by acclamation. Irma lives on George Gordon First Nation and worked in our system as an educational assistant for many years. We are extremely excited to welcome Irma to our Board of Education and look forward to her input at the board table. Congratulations Irma, and once again, thank you to Edward Bitternose for his important contributions to our Board.

Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA)
Later in the week I travelled to Toronto to join a CASSA executive meeting with Executive Director of LEADS, Mr. Ben Grebinski. As President of LEADS, I have had the distinct honour of being part of the CASSA executive over the last year. It is always valuable to join this national network of senior school system leaders as we work towards equity and excellence in education for all learners.

I hope that each of you has a productive day today as you prepare for the second half of the school year. Have a great week, everyone. It looks like we’ll put up with a few cold days in the next bit but they’re calling for warmer weather by the end of the week. That’s a great thing!

-Kevin