April 24-28, 2023
Welcome to the month of May! I am reminded of a quote by author Michael Altshuler, who said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” We all get the chance to chart our course in this world and I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many in Horizon who focus their efforts on driving success for our children.
Administrative Professionals Day was last week, and is always a great chance to officially recognize the hard work and dedication of our administrative staff who keep things running smoothly. I know I am speaking on behalf of myself and everyone who has these incredible support personnel when I say, “we could not do it without you!”
Inclusive Education Teacher of the Year
Congratulations to Patrick Winand, Wakaw School Vice Principal, who was awarded the Inclusive Education Teacher of the Year award. The Inclusion Saskatchewan award recognizes teachers who have gone above and beyond to support those with intellectual disabilities, and we are so fortunate to have an entire team of educators in Horizon who do just that. Thank you, Patrick, for your shared commitment to equity, inclusion, and respect for all. Congratulations!
On Tuesday morning, Superintendent of Operations Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff, and I met at STEP, our storefront school, to discuss some very recent and positive opportunities that are coming Horizon’s way when it comes to supporting the Saskatchewan Distance Learning Centre. Horizon is able to set up office space for teachers who will be employed by the Sask DLC and are planning to try and find space within our existing operational sites. This will certainly make it easier for teachers who currently work in Horizon to take up a position with the DLC in Saskatchewan.
High School Accelerated initiative
Superintendent Trish Maxwell and I were invited to a virtual discussion about the University of Regina’s High School Accelerated program, which would allow Grade 11 and 12 students to take up to two tuition-free university credit courses. It was a pleasure meeting Dr. Nilgün Önder, Associate Vice-President (Academic) and others from the U of R, and I look forward to sharing more information on this initiative with staff as details become available.
Senior Leadership Team (SLT) meeting
The SLT met on Tuesday afternoon to firm up details for the upcoming Director’s Leadership Team professional development session. As the Provincial Education Plan (PEP) continues to take shape, there is a responsibility to align our system and school goals with this provincial plan. As a result, a strong focus for the day will be on supporting Learning Improvement Planning (LIPs). I know it will be a tremendous day of learning for our administrators.
Special Board Meeting
The Board of Education met with Superintendent Sandy Gessner and I on Wednesday to review the proposed 2023-24 school year budget. This budgeting season has been a particularly challenging one, and I applaud the Board for their careful consideration of the best way forward for our students across Horizon. I look forward to sharing more about the budget in upcoming weeks as we begin to finalize our staff for 2023-24.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Executive, Board, and SLT Supper
Trustees, the CUPE Executive, and Horizon’s Senior Leadership Team gathered for an annual spring meeting followed by an evening meal. As always, coming together was an excellent chance to connect with our industry partners and discuss the collective interest of our organizations as we meet the needs of all our students.
George Gordon First Nation (GGFN) Meeting
On Thursday, I joined Superintendents Bryan McNabb and Cory Popoff for a meeting with Chief Byron Bitternose and Councillor Danny Cyr at George Gordon First Nation to discuss the partnership that supports the learning of children at GGEC. It was a very important meeting that ultimately explored the potential of some exciting new developments in the area.
The Governance Committee met on Friday with Trustees Jennifer Lemky (Committee Chair), Christine Gradin, Paul Crow-Buffalo, and Dana Stefanson, ex-officio members Jim Hack and Linda Mattock, and myself. We reviewed Policy 7 and looked deeply at the appraisal process for the Board. Jenn will share information and make recommendations to the Board at their upcoming meeting.
Congratulations to senior badminton athletes who competed in the HCAA District Championships this weekend, and best of luck to junior athletes whose season will conclude with Districts this coming weekend!
Have a great week, everyone!
April 17-21, 2023
Award-winning scientist and author Doug Larson once said, “Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.” I’m not sure whether Doug has ever experienced a spring storm in Saskatchewan, but I’m not sure many of us felt like whistling this past week! Our thanks to all who responded to the changing situation to make sure our students and staff were safe; bus cancellations, snow clearing efforts, tracking student absences and so much goes on behind the scenes. Thank you to each of you for your part in what was a challenging weather week.
Our week began with staff participating in school-led professional development for the last non-instructional day of this school year. I know teachers continue to appreciate the PPD days and opportunities to be in their schools to work on research and preparation for their classes. It is also extremely valuable to have non-instructional days supporting the work the school team does. I know the Board is also extremely supportive of these opportunities for staff and the ability we have to provide a few more days at home and off the bus for our over 3000 students who ride, while still maintaining our instructional hours for the year. Next year’s calendar provides for the same and I have heard time and again how much it is appreciated by our division family. I spent the morning sick but joined the virtual HCAA meeting in the afternoon, preparing for the end of year activities and ensuring the fall and winter sports dates were confirmed as a district. I want to thank all members of the HCAA district, including president Curtis Strueby and Student Activities Administrator Brian Grest for their work in ensuring the greatest district in the province runs smoothly.
The Board held their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday this past week. Among other discussions, we heard from the Governance, Audit, School Community Council, Transportation, and Joint Operations committees, as well as updates on the 2023-24 budget. Details will be available in April’s From the Board report. One of the large items of discussion surrounds social justice and the principles that are at play.
School Community Council (SCC) Workshop
The Board’s SCC Engagement Committee hosted a virtual workshop for SCCs on Tuesday evening. The workshop was designed around feedback from SCCs and administrators, and featured a keynote address on family and community engagement from Dr. Debbie Pushor. We heard from Lake Lenore, Humboldt Public, Foam Lake Composite and Foam Lake Elementary school SCCs who shared some of their most successful initiatives, and ended the evening with time for SCCs to collaborate. We thank the SCC Engagement Committee and all our volunteers for contributing to this excellent workshop and look forward to receiving feedback from those who attended.
Provincial Education Plan Implementation Team (PEPIT)
Provincial Education Plan (PEP) observers, project managers, support team, and membership met on Wednesday morning to review and further goals around the PEP. Superintendent of Learning Trish Maxwell attended the meeting on behalf of my office while I was addressing budget priorities with our CFO Sandy Gessner. A lot has been happening in relation to the PEP, with a recent focus on the measures necessary to assess the work of school divisions. More will be shared from my office in the upcoming weeks and as the measures are determined.
On Thursday, I joined Superintendent of HR Cory Popoff, Superintendent Jacquie Bergerman, and the first and second year administrators for the induction sessions. Cory is leading the administrators through a book study by Tod Whitaker entitled “What Great Principals do Differently: The 18 Things that Matter Most”. The sessions have been great opportunities to hear about the challenges and successes occurring in our schools under the leadership of our newest Director’s Leadership Team members. Cory does an admirable job of facilitating the discussions and ensuring the opportunities exist for questions and feedback. It is another terrific way we are trying to support the work of our administrators on their leadership journeys.
On Friday, Superintendent Terry Leibel and I met with Enriched Academy to discuss their product that supports staff and students with respect to financial literacy. The product is excellent and is being considered by other organizations in the province. Currently, Alberta is using it as the exclusive resource for supporting financial literacy in their schools. We look forward to learning more about its potential to support our children, families, and staff in the upcoming weeks.
Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman and Cory Popoff joined me for meetings with the staff at LeRoy School on Friday afternoon. I want to thank them for sharing their passion and supporting the needs of all children in the building, with a strong focus on the principles of social justice that are necessary to support all students. Superintendent Bryan McNabb will be back in the school on Monday to continue the supports necessary for all children, families, and staff. I want to thank Bryan and Principal Karen Hannah for their work in continuing to address the needs at the school.
Finally, it is with a heavy heart that I am sharing that we suddenly and tragically lost one of our parents from Punnichy over the weekend. She was a caregiver to five of our children at the school, and her loss has obviously had a significant effect on her family and our Horizon family. I want to thank Superintendent Terry Leibel, our TERT and counselling staff, and tragic response staff from George Gordon First Nation for their support to all those impacted by this tragedy. Helen Keller said it very well when we consider those who are grieving loss, “We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world - the company of those who have known suffering.”
Please have a great week, everyone. It appears the weather is changing for the better, and this alone can help strengthen our resolve and anchor each of us to our purpose. And what greater purpose can we have than to support our greatest resource - our children.
April 3-14, 2023
Welcome back! Novelist Anne Lamott said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you.” I hope you all had a chance to unplug, unwind, and rejuvenate over the break and are ready to get back at it! I enjoyed refereeing some volleyball the first weekend at a 16U and 18U mens’ tournament in Regina before spending the last three days of the break out in Calgary visiting with my sons and their families. Being around family is important and I am fortunate to be able to make good on these opportunities when they arise.
Transportation Committee Meeting
On April 3rd, the Board’s standing committee on Transportation met for the first time in the 2022-23 school year. Joining the committee of the Board to present the findings with me, were Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operational Services, and Sandy Gessner Superintendent of Finance. A report, including a recommendation will be shared from the committee with the Board at their regular meeting in April.
Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA)
As part of my role with the executive board of CASSA, we have been reviewing policies and making updates to the organization’s bylaws. On Monday prior to the Easter break, our working group met to review and make final recommended changes to these documents in preparation for the executive board meeting in May.
Directors’ Leadership Team (DLT) Meeting
We met virtually with Horizon’s principals and vice principals on Tuesday morning. There was a great deal to share from all departments in Horizon’s senior leadership team. Of particular focus was information shared that related to the budget for 2023-24. The budget has been a challenging one, but we look forward to addressing it with the Board and doing the best we can to keep learning happening in our system.
Joint Operations Committee (JOC)
Also on Tuesday, we held our quarterly JOC committee meeting with representatives from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, with whom we work somewhat together to operate Humboldt Collegiate Institute. Representing Horizon at the meeting were JOC committee members and trustees Linda Mattock and Cheryl Vertefeuille, CFO Sandy Gessner, COO Justin Arendt, Superintendent of HR Cory Popoff, and myself.
Board Agenda Meeting
Also on Tuesday, we set the agenda for the regular Board of Education meeting with Table Officers Jim Hack and Linda Mattock, as well as staff members Sandy, Justin, Jesse Green (Communications), and Kim Loose (Administrative Assistant), who stepped in for Executive Assistant Marni Sogge who took some well-deserved holidays for a couple of weeks. Kim did a tremendous job in providing support to me in trying to ensure the needs of the Board were met. We need to have great people in place to fill in and step up when other staff are away, and we are certainly blessed to have great people across Horizon, like Kim, doing just that.
Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA) Spring Assembly
Horizon’s Trustees and I travelled to Regina for this year’s SSBA Spring Assembly on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the break. The theme was “Innovation, Inclusion, and Investment,” and the agenda included excellent presentations from Dr. Alec Couros, the Deans of Education from the U of R and U of S, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and others.
The trustees heard updates on the Provincial Education Plan and were able to network with colleagues from across Saskatchewan. As part of the conference, Glen Gantefoer, Board Chair of the Light of Christ Catholic School Division, April Blondeau SSBA Director of HR, and I presented the policy advisory regarding the Director of Education role expectations and quality indicators, referred to as Appendix B of Policy 12.
April 6, 2018
On April 6th, trustees at the SSBA spring assembly and schools across Horizon and beyond, recognized and honoured the significance of the fifth anniversary of the 2018 Humboldt Broncos accident that took the lives of 16 people and injured 13 others. The accident changed the lives of so many families, billet families, and others from the city of Humboldt, the province of Saskatchewan, the country of Canada, and beyond. It also impacted our school division and others, and many people within school divisions. Like is typical in Saskatchewan, school divisions from across the province responded in such an important way by sending counsellors and other staff to help with the necessary response that was needed. Literally overnight, there were 55 counsellors from other school divisions in Humboldt assisting with support for our children, families, and staff who were impacted. We could not have moved forward without this selfless gift, and I took the opportunity to thank Directors and trustees for their part in the response 5 short (and long) years ago.
I was able to take a few days off during the week of April 10, and was back to attend a regular board meeting of the Humboldt and District Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday, and worked on budget meetings and other matters at the division office the rest of the time in the office.
I hope everyone had an excellent non-instructional day today, and with children coming back tomorrow, that you’re rejuvenated and ready to do the great work you do the remaining weeks of the 2022-23 school year.
Have a great week, everyone! #HumboldtStrong #HorizonStrong