This Week in Horizon » September, 2023

September, 2023

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Welcome back, everyone! I hope you have had a fantastic, relaxing summer and a restful long weekend. Like each of you, I am thrilled that we are welcoming students back into our classrooms today which signals the beginning of another school year. Our Horizon team is complete and now we can get to the real work of creating a better world one student at a time.

DLT Meeting

The Director’s Leadership Team of principals, vice-principals, managers, supervisors, coordinators, officers, and superintendents met on Thursday, August 24, 2023. There was a great deal discussed on the first day back, including a necessary discussion regarding the directive on “First Names and Pronouns” that was also just announced that week. The matter is being heard before the courts this morning. The main premise for the hearing is to potentially establish grounds for an injunction through determining that by moving forward with the directive, there is a potential for irreparable harm. 

The interlocutory injunction is being heard this morning, and our AP is being vetted by legal counsel. At this time, staff are to bring any related matters that our students present to their principal and they will address it with my office. Staff have engaged parents in matters of this nature, when there was no fear of harm to the student. The issue of parental consent is really the challenge that exists and questions the issues of human rights. While the courts decide this direction,  we will do what we have always done; to care deeply for our students by creating a safe place in our schools and on our buses for every child.

Board of Education Monthly Meeting

Horizon’s Board met for their first regular meeting of the 2023-24 school year on August 28. 

As I’m sure you know, we had some terrible news in late July when we were made aware that our Board Chair and friend, Mr. Jim Hack, passed away unexpectedly. Many of us are still trying to comprehend this news, and I know our thoughts are with Jim’s wife Patti and their family. The board and staff were able to recognize Jim and the contributions he has made over his 45-year education career at Celebration Day last week. His absence will certainly cast a shadow, but I know that Jim would want the show to go on and for us to keep doing the important work that we do. Emily Dickinson put it very well for any who are mourning the loss of a loved one when she said, “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” 

Well, the show did go on as our former Vice-Chair Linda Mattock assumed the role of Board Chair in Jim’s absence, and did a tremendous job during what was a difficult day for so many. It was decided that trustees will elect a Chair and Vice Chair during their Organizational Meeting in November. In the meantime, Linda will continue to do her work as the chairperson. Updates on the meeting will be available in the August From the Board in the coming days. 

Celebration Day

I want to thank all those who joined us in Humboldt for our annual Celebration Day last Wednesday. As always, thanks go to the many staff members whose work made the day such a success. We enjoyed wonderful performances from some of our talented students, and we appreciate them spending their time with us! Congratulations to the many staff who were recognized for their years of service, and to our very deserving Excellence in Teaching award winners. Finally, our former student and the newest addition to the Horizon Wall of Fame, Dr Logan Banadyga, joined us and it was certainly a pleasure and an inspiration to hear him speak. 

I know the non-instructional days last week were appreciated as staff prepared for the return of our students.

Have a wonderful first day with students, and an even better week. You inspire each other, you inspire me, and you inspire our board. Remember what John C. Maxwell said, “A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential.” 

And now you get to go and inspire our future. Have a great week Horizon!



Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]


Already the first week of classes is behind us, and I want to thank Horizon staff for a fantastic return to school and extracurricular activities for our students. So much work has already begun towards realizing Horizon’s goals of Safe & Caring, Literacy & Numeracy, and Graduation Rates. 

World Literacy Day

This past Friday was World Literacy Day. As author Frank Serafini once said, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” I hope each of you had the opportunity to enjoy a good book over the weekend, and an opportunity to share your passion for literacy with the young readers in your lives.

First Days of 2023-24

I was able to join the excitement of the first days back with visits to a number of schools on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Thanks to each of the principals and our students and staff for a warm welcome. And much more importantly, thank you for welcoming our children with open arms! They are in such great care. 

PARTNERS Family Services

I met with Executive Director of PARTNERS Family Services, Hayley Kennedy on Wednesday afternoon. We have a great relationship with PARTNERS and I was grateful we had an opportunity to discuss our combined supports for families and youth across our system. Horizon partners with Haley’s organization on a number of initiatives, including the Humboldt Early Years Family Resource Centre (HEYFRC) and family supports across all of Horizon. 

Most recently, we have been included in an application for a service centre to support youth in our area. I want to thank Hayley for including us in this very worthwhile project and I look forward to sharing more about its potential to support our youth, pending the outcome of the application. 

Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) Meeting and Minister’s Directive

The DLT met for a virtual meeting on Thursday morning where we discussed a broad variety of fall topics, including updates to the late-August directive on “First Names and Pronouns”.  that has led to an attempted injunction by UR Pride from the University of Regina. The initial meeting between the chief justice and legal counsel representing school divisions, the ministry, and the plaintiff was held on September 5th, and a court date has been set for September 19th to hear the injunction request. We are required by law to follow each of the three aspects of this directive, while continuing to do what we have always been passionate about in this profession…keeping our kids safe and keeping the lines of communication open with parents. 

There is some question of whether staff is committed to these open lines of communication with parents and I personally find this incredulous. Educators know very well that effective relationships with parents provide significant value in supporting the education and well-being of our children. The issue being addressed is whether a child under 16 has a legal right to change their name and pronoun without signed consent from their parents. I am certainly not a lawyer so we will let the courts decide the outcome of the injunction, but I know that in every situation addressing gender that I am aware of, there have always been conversations with parents and where necessary, we have always engaged outside agencies to work with the family. 

Whether the injunction is supported, or whether the government is able to temporarily adjourn the case, our work to keep our children safe in our schools will continue to be our most important responsibility. And as we have always done, when children do not feel safe, we will follow the laws in our province and country and continue to engage agencies of our government to ensure we protect their safety. 

At challenging times like this, I remind myself of how grateful we need to be. As professionals and paraprofessionals in Horizon, you do a commendable job of looking after the nearly 6,600 children who attend our schools. You have always exhibited deep care and commitment to their needs. I have been witness to this every day in my nearly 30 year career in education. And as teachers, you know and have always known that you are required to follow the same laws that serve to protect our kids, and to do what a “kind, fair, and judicious parent” would. It is not the reason you do what you do, but it supports what you do for kids every day. So when I hear someone say “just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic,” they do not understand the moral imperatives of our jobs and the complex nature of our classrooms. If it was that simple, it would not be the most important profession in the world. 

So I will always be thankful that our children are in our schools. After all, along with many of their homes, it is without question the safest place our students could be. And I’ll keep you posted as this case unfolds. 

Have a great week, everyone. Thank you for continuing to inspire our children and youth. 


Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]


Good morning, everyone. I hope you had some time enjoying the beautiful September weather this weekend. 

This past week I was reminded of the tragedy that occurred 22 years ago in the United States. That great sense of unease that swept our world was something I know many of us will never forget. Having been to Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, I was left with a lasting impression of how significant this was for so many families. 

Working in the education system is always an honour and so often, very rewarding. However, I think this fall has been as challenging a startup as I have seen in my nearly 30 years in this profession. We are witnessing a level of unrest in our province, and quite frankly in our world, surrounding issues of parental rights, human rights, and staff and parent engagement. When important relationships are somewhat strained, it can become easy to feel a sense of helplessness. However, when I am able to spend time in our schools, whether it’s in our classrooms observing how effective relationships between staff and students impact learning, or at a volleyball tournament where parents are engaging with our staff and their children, I feel a great sense of calm. Any potential feelings of unrest are quickly replaced by feelings of inspiration, excitement, and opportunity. I am beyond heartened by our staff who make such an enormous difference for children every day. I am equally inspired by the engagement levels of our parents — the first educator — and most important people in the lives of our students. I am reminded of this most important work we do every day, and I am inspired. 

Division Office Staff Meeting

We began our week at the division office with a staff meeting where we welcomed two new staff members to the office; Sydney Odelein is our new Human Resources Generalist and Darlene Popoff joined us as Learning and Wellness Coordinator earlier this summer. We also discussed other important protocols that are being implemented in our office that will continue the effective service levels for our staff, families, and community members. 

CASSA Board Meeting

I joined the Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA) executive board meeting virtually on Monday. I began serving on the executive for CASSA as the western representative for the The School Superintendents’ Association in the USA (AASA). Canada is a zone within the AASA so there is also an Eastern rep who sits with me on their governing board. I have found my involvement in both organizations to be extremely beneficial as I learn a great deal  through the opportunity to connect with peers from across North America.

Meeting with MLA Todd Goudy

On Tuesday morning, I met with Todd Goudy, MLA for Melfort. Todd and I first met when we were kids playing fastpitch softball almost 40 years ago. As a former trustee and now MLA, I have always had a great appreciation for Todd’s passion for family and youth. We had an excellent discussion and I certainly thank Todd for spending his valuable time with me. 

Board Agenda Meeting

Later on Tuesday, Board Chair Linda Mattock, COO Justin Arendt, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, Communications Officer Jesse Green, and I met to set the agenda for this month’s Board of Education meeting. It is important to meet that far in advance so we can set the agenda for the regular meeting and get the agenda out to trustees well in advance. 

Public Section

Linda Mattock and I attended a Public Section Executive Meeting, along with other Saskatchewan directors of education and board representatives on Wednesday morning. The president of Public Section shared a very fitting and heartfelt tribute to our late board chair, Jim Hack. Jim did a lot of important work for the Public Section and public education in general. He sat on the executive as the second vice president and advocated proudly for the children and families he served. Like in Horizon, he left a strong legacy for others to follow, and he continues to be so deeply missed. 

Lanigan School Site Visit

COO Justin Arendt, Manager of Facilities Services Kam Kiland, and I visited the new Lanigan school construction site on Thursday morning along with project leaders and construction leads. We discussed a number of updates with respect to the ongoing work to get the piles dug and filled. It is amazing to think that some of the piles that are dug are 17.5 metres deep! In the next couple of months, we are going to see some exciting structural advancements to the building as steel begins to form the exterior of the facility. I know in talking to some of our staff and students, they are excited to see the changes happening in real time, and on a daily basis. 


On Friday morning I met with Lauren from BloomBoard, a talent development company provider that helps school divisions with educator pipeline, advancement, and retention solutions through their connections with universities across the US. I don’t know if it will work in Saskatchewan or even Canada to get accreditation for teachers, but it is certainly a great way to train staff and get them their education degree at any time, including when there are teacher shortages across our province and country. I look forward to exploring this further and sharing more. 

We are more than halfway through September already. There is so much happening for our students, and I thank you for inspiring them and each other. Have a great week, everyone. 


Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]