Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205
March 20-24, 2023
Good evening everyone! As we were again fortunate to engage in work around Truth and Reconciliation last week, it is top of mind for me today. In the words of Wilfred Buck, Cree Elder, “Truth and Reconciliation must become a foundational part of our history and our future. It must be embraced by all of us so that our future generations will truly understand how to move forward together in a good way."
Directors’ Leadership Team Professional Development
Our day began with a welcome by Elder George Longman, Knowledge Keeper. George then shared teachings around four traditional medicines, tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar, and sage. We were honoured to welcome Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan, who spoke about truth and reconciliation and how we can all take part. George Gordon teachers Alberta-Rose Bear, Lindsay Bear, and their colleague from the First Nations University Of Canada, Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly joined us to present and speak about their award-winning book, Grandfather’s Reminder. A copy of the book has been provided to each school for use by students and staff, alike. Superintendent of Indigenous Education Bryan McNabb reviewed the book 21 Things You Didn't Know About the Indian Act to wrap up the focus on Truth and Reconciliation for the day. Administrators then heard a budget presentation from CFO Sandy Gessner and me, before engaging in discussions with Superintendent Jacquie Bergerman relating to growth mindsets. The DLT finished off their day in discussions related to Division matters, including a discussion on Horizon’s distance learning plan.
Board of Education Committee Meetings
We had several meetings last week; the Governance Committee met on Monday, and the Audit Committee met on Thursday, and the SCC Engagement Committee met on Friday. Each of these committees will present updates at the next Board meeting in April. The Audit Committee named their chairperson, and once again, Mr. Mark Fedak will have this responsibility for the upcoming year. The Governance Committee also named a chairperson and Ms. Jennifer Lemky was once again acclaimed. Finally, Mr. Doug Armbruster was once again acclaimed as the chairperson of the SCC Engagement Committee.
Provincial Bargaining Advisory Committee (PBAC)
I again joined colleagues Diana Welter (Superintendent of HR, Prairie Valley), Jason Young (Director of Education, Northern Lights), Amy Johnson (Superintendent of HR, Prairie South), and April Blondeau (SSBA Director of HR) for a PBAC planning meeting on Wednesday. We continued our work on advising on language considerations in the articles of the Teachers’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and are preparing for a session with Directors and HR Superintendents this week.
Humboldt Early Years Family Resource Centre (HEYFRC)
Superintendent of Learning Trish Maxwell joined the HEYFRC Advisory Committee for their regular meeting on Thursday afternoon. It continues to be a pleasure to be part of this resource for all families in the Humboldt area which turned one not long ago.
First and Second-Year Administrators meetings
Our first and second-year administrators gathered virtually on Thursday afternoon for a regular meeting focussed on development and collaboration. Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff led the sessions and was joined by other superintendents as necessary. I joined the second year meetings following the audit committee, and was witness to the many excellent leadership discussions that were held.
Congratulations to provincial champions, the Middle Lake Lenore girls (1A) and Wynyard girls (3A). I also want to extend a huge congratulations to the silver medallists, the Lanigan girls (3A) and the Lake Lenore/Annaheim boys (1A). Finally, the St. Brieux boys team lost two close games at Hoopla, finishing fourth in the 2A boys provincial. As always, thank you to the athletes, coaches, and fans for an A plus season!
Enjoy your week, everyone! #HorizonStrong
March 6-17, 2023
Happy spring equinox, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the longer days and warmer sun, and feeling the energy that comes with spring. I hope everyone had some time to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. For me, it has always been special as my oldest son was born on that day 32 years ago. Boy, time certainly flies!
International Women’s Day
For me, this day serves as a reminder of the exemplary leadership, kindness, strength, caring, and love that the women in our lives - be it at home, at work, or in our communities - so selflessly display. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the necessity of standing up for gender rights and justice in our local communities.
Please join me in congratulating the George Gordon Education Centre spelling bee team who competed in the Saskatchewan First Nations Spelling Bee in Saskatoon this weekend! Great job to the team - Bee Deadly - and to Kane who placed 2nd and Megan who placed 3rd in the intermediate division! What an outstanding accomplishment for the entire team!
Congratulations to the Watson School girls rink who won bronze at the SHSAA Provincial Curling Championships! This is especially exciting considering that they practiced without a home ice surface, and the curling program is very new for Watson School. Great work, girls and coaches! Congratulations also to the Wynyard Composite boys, and the Winston High mixed rinks who competed in provincials. I know your experiences at these events will last the rest of your life. Finally, congratulations to all our Horizon curling teams for a great season. Curling is certainly in my blood and it is exciting to hear about the number of young people participating in the sport again.
Horizon had wrestling athletes compete in the Provincial Championships this past weekend. Congratulations to William Derby Vikings coaches and athletes for a very successful inaugural season! Wonderful to see this new program running, and congratulations to Hannah, Kamryn, Josh, and De Wet for representing your school at regionals and provincials!
There is much happening in the basketball world; Congratulations to HCAA Junior Basketball District Champions- Wynyard Bears (girls) and St. Brieux Crusaders (boys)!
Great job to senior basketball Conference Champions: the St. Brieux Crusaders girls and boys are both 2A Conference Champs, and the Lanigan Lancers took the 3A division. Regional basketball happened this past weekend with many Horizon schools competing and hosting. Congratulations and good luck to the teams headed to Hoopla next weekend: Lanigan, Middle Lake/Lake Lenore, and Wynyard girls; Lake Lenore/Annaheim and St. Brieux boys. Congratulations also to those teams who made it to the regional playoffs and narrowly missed getting to Hoopla: St. Brieux, Watrous, Foam Lake, and HCI girls; Middle Lake, Imperial, Foam Lake, Watrous, and HCI boys. We are proud of your outstanding accomplishments!
Finally, congratulations to all the basketball teams and coaches for another wonderful season. It is so great to have these activities back for our kids. I think most would agree that only a little over a year ago, we weren’t so certain we would be having these opportunities. I know many, like my Board and me, are over the moon that our kids get these experiences.
Week of March 6-10
Senior Leadership Team Meeting
We began the week with an SLT meeting where we prepared for the upcoming Directors’ Leadership Team professional development day on March 21. We have an excellent day planned and look forward to this upcoming week of learning and collaboration!
League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) Info Session
LEADS held a special information session for individuals interested in senior educational administration.In total, 72 school-based administrators registered for the event and a few of them were from Horizon. Along with colleagues from the executive board who presented on a myriad of topics, I presented on the role of Human Resources within a school division. LEADS has been very focused on trying to develop a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders in Saskatchewan school divisions. Our executive Director Ben Grebinski shared information on the professional responsibilities and application processes for prospective League members.
Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI) Update & Project Planning
The Ministry of Education and Saskatchewan school division leads met to discuss and plan a spring gathering. We also reviewed and updated the 2023 project plan and ISSI Guidelines documents. Currently, Horizon has an ISSI agreement with Fishing Lake First Nation that will provide the system with $300,000 over the next three years, with these dollars being directed toward supporting the children from Fishing Lake FN in their own school as well as at Wadena Elementary and Wadena Composite.
Board Agenda Meeting
I had the opportunity to review the agenda for the March Board meeting with Board Chair Jim Hack, Vice Chair Linda Mattock, and staff members Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO Sandy Gessner, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO Justin Arendt, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, and Communications Officer Jesse Green. Every month we have a meeting approximately a week in advance of the board’s meeting to review items and ensure items are included for the board.
Humboldt & District Museum and Gallery
I joined the Humboldt & District Museum and Gallery Board of Directors for a board meeting on last week. It is great to learn more about the decision-making processes and how the museum and art gallery contribute to culture in the Humboldt area. I am excited about the year-long pilot program called “Relationship Building and Reconciliation through Living Heritage” that has been developed in partnership by Heritage Saskatchewan with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) and Aboriginal Friendship Centres. If you’d like to learn more about the program and the proposed Museum re-design of exhibit storylines, please see the Humboldt Museum Reconciliation page.
Leading to Learn
We had the privilege of hosting school divisions from around the province at the Leading to Learn workshop. The meeting was centred around Community Engagement and was a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues from across Saskatchewan on this important initiative.
Week of March 13-17
League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS)
The first half of my week was spent largely with LEADS colleagues. On Monday morning, I met with president-elect Jason Young, Director of Education for the Northern Lights School Division. That afternoon at the Saskatchewan Directors of Education meeting, we covered a broad range of topics including the upcoming changes to distance education for public schools.
I was joined by Horizon’s Senior Leadership Team at the LEADS Annual Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting which began Monday evening and concluded with the AGM on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of passing the presidency on to Jason Young, who I know will lead the organization extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed my year as president of this provincial organization and am proud of what we were able to accomplish in that time.
Board of Education Meeting
We met on Thursday for the March board meeting. Cory Popoff, Superintendent of Human Resources joined us with an overview of the bargaining process for the various collective agreements that affect our staff. You can read about the meeting in From the Board, which will be ready in the coming days.
Residential School Presentation
I, and many division office employees, were fortunate to listen to Amanda Moosemay share about her experience in the residential school system. Thank you to Superintendent Bryan McNabb who introduced the presentation and shared personal experiences and insights. I can’t thank Amanda and Bryan enough for their generosity and willingness to delve into this very difficult part of the past in order to help others understand. I am extremely grateful to be walking this path to reconciliation with all of you, our team of Horizon School Division employees.
I had the pleasure to once again, spend my weekend supervising and mentoring volleyball officials at one of the many Sask Cups held across the province. In total, 120 teams competed in these tournaments across Saskatchewan this weekend alone. I truly enjoy giving back to the sport and our kids this way, and seeing them perform at such a high level.
Have a great week, everyone!
February 27-March 3, 2023
Author Hal Borland said, "No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn," and I’m comforted to remember that after the last cold snap we had! It was great to have kids back at school last week, and I know I’m not the only one wondering how it is March already!
After the week-long break, teachers had a chance to plan and focus on the preparation needed for highly effective instruction and assessment strategies that keep differentiation at the core. As you saw in the memo that was sent out regarding the calendar, five personal professional days will remain in the 2023-24 school year calendar, something that I know is highly valued by teachers and support staff across Horizon.
Division Office Personnel Update
We have some current and upcoming changes in our finance department. Maria Ford and Suzie Harty began training together, as Suzie will take on an elevated role when Maria is off this spring. We welcomed Amanda Schwartz to the division office last Monday; she will fill the accounting technician position while Suzie is manager. Finally, our new financial analyst, Lydia Mai, joins us for her first day today. Welcome to Amanda and Lydia - it’s great to have our finance department running at a full complement for the first time this 2022-23 school year.
Provincial Bargaining Advisory Committee (PBAC)
I joined colleagues Diana Welter (Superintendent of HR, Prairie Valley), Jason Young (Director of Education, Northern Lights), and Amy Johnson (Superintendent of HR, Prairie South), for a PBAC planning meeting on Wednesday. Our responsibilities include advising on the language consideration of every article within the Teachers’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). It is certainly an interesting bit of work that really stems from my role as the president of LEADS.
Directors’ Leadership Team (DLT) Meeting
Our regular virtual meeting with Horizon administrators was on Thursday. With staffing meetings between principals and Superintendents Cory Popoff and Jacquie Bergerman occurring, most of the meeting was focused on items pertaining to the 2023-24 school year, including our impending budget, which is slated to be passed down on March 22, 2023.
Humboldt Art Gallery/Museum Board
I had an orientation on Thursday afternoon for my new volunteer role on the board of directors for the Humboldt and District Gallery and Museum. It’s fascinating to learn more about the duties and powers of this board in Humboldt, recognizing how many of our Horizon students benefit from the work of the board’s employees. Director of Cultural Services Jennifer Fitzpatrick leads the work and has been a strong advocate for Horizon as we have partnered to support Indigenous education initiatives in and around Humboldt.
Celebration Day Lunch
On Friday, Bulyea was the location for the first of four lunches that were awarded at Celebration Day last fall. Trustees Irma Anderson, Doug Armbruster, and Cheryl Vertefeuille attended the staff luncheon while Jenn Lemky sent her regrets. The staff and trustees provided supervision, and all students and staff enjoyed cake and refreshments just before afternoon classes resumed. Congratulations, Bulyea School and thank you to Principal Justine Wheeler and the entire Bulyea school community for the warm welcome! We look forward to visiting the remaining three winning schools; Humboldt Public, Kelvington High, and Lanigan Central High schools.
One final comment…
Just a reminder to all staff that March is Ag Month in Saskatchewan. The value of agriculture is obvious in our world and this quote by agronomist M. S. Swaminathan really sums it up, “If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right”. I’m hearing about lots of incredible work by our staff and students already this month surrounding agriculture in the classroom. Just a reminder that we have great supports in place that can be accessed by speaking to your principal. I certainly look forward to the visuals that will continue to result from engaging in this important opportunity for learning for our children.
Have a great week, everyone!