This Week in Horizon » October, 2023

October, 2023

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Good morning, everyone. I hope you had a chance to spend time with your loved ones over the Thanksgiving weekend. What an incredibly wonderful weekend for weather! Writer William Arthur Ward said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” I know I am thankful for so many things, including my family, friends, amazing colleagues, and having the ability to impact youth through education. As Director, I remain very grateful for so many things. It starts with the incredibly humbling role that I get to do everyday - to work in support of students and staff. I continue to be grateful for the big people in our system, from parents to staff members who are working so hard together to realize the potential of our littler people. I continue to be grateful to work in my home province and for a Board who is visionary and extremely supportive of the work being done in our organization. I continue to be grateful for good health and great relationships with family and friends who share my passions and who support my extremely busy lifestyle.

Learning Improvement Plan reviews

We began the first of two Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings for the 2023-24 school year. Along with Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman, Trish Maxwell, Bryan McNabb, and Terry Leibel, we met with principals and vice principals to review school data, plans to foster continuous student learning, supports for literacy and numeracy development, and SCC involvement with the LIP. It is important and enjoyable to spend this time with our Director’s Leadership Team members talking about the fundamentals of education and learning how their school teams are focused on improving conditions for our kids.

Last week, we met with administrators from Punnichy Community High, Punnichy Elementary Community, George Gordon Education Centre, Raymore, Sask Central Hutterian, LeRoy, William Derby, Bulyea, Nokomis, Drake, Lanigan Elementary, Lanigan Central High, Robert Melrose Elementary, Rose Valley, Archerwill, Viscount, Watrous Elementary, Winston High, Imperial, and Schell.

Director Appraisal

On Wednesday, the Board of Education conducted my annual appraisal. I always appreciate the opportunity to engage with the Board in relation to my work in Horizon. The goal of continuous growth and learning is my ultimate goal for every student in our care, and this should ultimately be the goal of every employee in the system, especially the Director. It was a full, but fulfilling day. 

Director’s Leadership Team Meeting

We met virtually on Thursday morning for a regular meeting, which included an update on the legal process around the Minister of Education’s directive related to parental inclusion and consent policy. The directive related to parental consent for pronouns for students under 16 is on hold, and will remain on hold for the time being. An injunction order has been put in place pending the hearing that will address the charter concerns, and this hearing has been postponed until the new year.

What that means in schools, is that we continue to have informed consent from parents and caregivers in advance of any sex education instruction, and at this time, outside agencies shall not be involved in conducting presentations related to sex education unless they are from a government organization like health or social services. 

It is common knowledge that the government is wanting to put the mandate into legislation and enact the “notwithstanding clause”. This action would mean that the law would remain in effect for a five year period, regardless of the decision of the courts. We will certainly stay abreast of what is happening during the sitting of government, which starts this week. 

Senior Leadership Team Meeting

Immediately following the DLT meeting, the Senior Leadership Team met to continue our strategic planning before heading back on the road for LIP meetings. We have been preparing the strategic plan for the work we do with our schools. 

 Have a great week, everyone. Thank you for continuing to be the inspiration to our students and each other. #HorizonStrong


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 and trust you had a relaxing weekend. In driving around Horizon these last days, I have noticed that most of the crop is off the fields despite the recent damp weather. I hope our farming community has had a successful and safe harvest. October is Agriculture Month, and an excellent time to thank those in this noble profession for producing our food, clothing, and renewable products. As farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka said, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

It is hard not to think of the challenges we are facing in our province, country, and world. With threats against citizens in our home province, to atrocities occurring in the Middle East, there is such significant unrest. We know everyone is trying to comprehend the Hamas terrorist attack which has led to Israel’s declaration of war. As much as these issues create anxiety in our schools and communities, we also know we have families directly impacted. In the event support is needed, please know that counselling is available to Horizon students and staff.

School Community Council Engagement Committee

I began last week with a full day of work with the Board of Education, starting with the SCC Engagement Committee. The committee reviewed survey feedback for an upcoming SCC workshop and finalized the planning for it. 

The Board is looking forward to continuing its work with SCCs again this year. It’s wonderful to see so many back-to-school barbecues and other events that have been happening. The SCCs play a significant role in so many things at the school, including as I have heard during our LIP meetings, in the school’s Learning Improvement Plans.

Audit Committee

The committee met with Nadine Gibney from MNP to review the 2022-23 year-end audit statement and findings. The committee also heard reports from Human Resources and Finance Services, including management responses to the interim audit report. The committee also saw the fourth-quarter financial forecasts from 2022-23, and updates on the accumulated surplus and restricted reserves.

Joint Operations Committee (JOC)

We held our quarterly JOC committee meeting in person on Tuesday afternoon with representatives from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, with whom we oversee operations at Humboldt Collegiate Institute. The committee welcomed a new trustee from GSCS, and Dr Cheryl Vertefeuile and Board Chair Linda Mattock represented Horizon’s Board. We reviewed staffing, enrolment numbers as well as reviewed the fourth-quarter financials from 2022-23 and the Joint Operations Agreement. 

Board Agenda Meeting

The final Board-related meeting of Tuesday was the agenda meeting to prepare for the upcoming regular Board meeting. Board Chair Linda Mattock, who was ex-officio for all other committees except for the JOC, is the only member of the board at the final committee meeting and the meeting was extremely effective for preparing the agenda.  

Learning Improvement Plan Meetings

Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman, Trish Maxwell, Bryan McNabb, Terry Leibel, and I continued with our first wave of Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) meetings with principals and vice principals on Wednesday. Last week, we had the opportunity to meet with administrators from Ituna, Foam Lake Composite, Wadena Elementary, Wadena Composite, Quill Lake, Wynyard Composite High, Wynyard Elementary, Englefeld, Lakeside Colony, and Watson.

Strategic Planning

The Senior Leadership Team met on Wednesday afternoon to continue our strategic planning, which helps inform the work we do with our schools as we work toward the goals of the Board of Education. As with any strategic plan, it will continue to be a document that will take shape as this year progresses. 

Lanigan Joint School

On Thursday afternoon, I joined our facilities team at the new Lanigan school construction site along with project leaders and construction leads. We discussed a number of updates and heard the news that all the pilings are in and the foundation has been poured. Much of the work has been at or below ground level, so it doesn’t look overly exciting just now, but progress is definitely being made. In the next month and a half, we are going to see some exciting structural advancements to the building as steel begins to form the exterior of the facility. 

Cross Country

With the SHSAA Provincial Cross Country Championship taking place in Regina this past weekend, this year's season comes to a close. Congratulations to this year’s HCAA District Champions and to the many athletes who represented Horizon at provincials!

Have a great week, everyone! #Inspire


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

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]


I want to begin This Week by thanking each of you for your creativity and enthusiasm for planning such wonderful events during Education Week, Bus Driver Appreciation Day, and Saskatchewan Libraries Week! Your commitment and unwavering emphasis on gratitude are truly inspiring. At this time of the year, we send staff appreciation gifts to our educational assistants, bus drivers, and librarians in appreciation for their work that contributes to the betterment of our students. However, on behalf of the Board and my office as Director, we want each of you to know just how important you are in supporting the needs of our most important resource in our world, our children. Thank you for inspiring our kids everyday, and for all you do to make sure they are safe and cared for. 

On Friday, the Saskatchewan government announced that they had passed the Parents' Bill of Rights and invoked the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We certainly accept the government’s ability to enact law and we will follow the law as we always have. What will not change is our staff’s dedication to fostering a safe, caring, and inclusive educational environment. We accomplish this in the most effective manner when we work closely with our students and their families as we keep the best interests of children and youth in plain view. 

October Board Meeting

We had our regular monthly board meeting on Monday last week, and the Board continued their unwavering focus on doing what is best for our kids. Amazing other things discussed, they did get an update on the Lanigan Joint School which has seen such fast growth happening. The Board also heard from many of their committees including Audit (Chair Mark Fedak), Governance (Chair Jennifer Lemky), Joint Operations (Linda Mattock), and SCC Engagement (Chair Doug Armbruster). 

Please keep an eye out for the latest updates in the October issue of From the Board.

Board Strategic Planning

Our strategic planning session with the Board of Education on Tuesday and Wednesday was an excellent chance to review goals and priorities for the year ahead. I attended the full session with the trustees while members of the Senior Leadership Team presented on topics including the Provincial Education Plan, providing the Board with practical knowledge and information to inform their high-level plans for the division.  

Our Board continues to place value on Horizon’s goals of Literacy, Numeracy, and Assessment, Safe & Caring, and Transitions and Graduation Rates, as well as ensuring a strong emphasis on Truth and Reconciliation and on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA). In addressing this focus, we were honoured to welcome Dr Deneira Exner-Cortens from the University of Calgary, who delivered a compelling presentation on the science behind binarism and on supporting all children, but especially those who are from oppressed minorities. Superintendent Trish Maxwell presented on the Provincial Education Plan (PEP) as well as Horizon’s Strategic Plan. She added in Early Learning Coach Heidi Linford to engage the board in discussions related to family engagement. Finally, Superintendent of Finance Sandy Gessner did a very good job of engaging the board on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). There are many risks the system has to consider and the Board needs to ensure that ERM is alive and working effectively.

The Governance Committee did an excellent job of planning, while Board Chair Linda Mattock led the three days in a highly effective manner. I want to thank the entire Board for their efforts and contributions over what was a gruelling but inspiring three days. 

Learning Improvement Plan

We continued with our Learning Improvement Plan meetings at St. Brieux, Three Lakes, Annaheim, and Muenster schools, where Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman and Trish Maxwell and I were welcomed by both staff and students. We appreciate the tremendous amount of work that goes into developing the school-level Learning Improvement Plan and I want to thank our administrators and all who contribute to these important plans.

Once again, thank you for all you do Horizon. 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]


Good morning Horizon,

Following an impasse in negotiations with the provincial government, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) has recently announced that, of the 90 per cent of teachers who voted, 95 per cent showed their support for job sanctions. Although we don’t know further details at this time, we will communicate contingency plans with families and staff as soon as we learn more from the STF about timelines and possible sanctions. Civil rights activist Cesar Chavez once said, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” His words underscore the broader implications and fundamental principles at stake. We all hope the conciliation process will yield a speedy end to the issues expressed by both sides. 

Collaborative Learning Day

Staff travelled to Humboldt on Monday for a full day of collaborative learning, led by Superintendent of Learning Trish Maxwell and her team. The Learning team did an exceptional job of presenting an engaging day of collaboration for more than 600 staff- this is no mean feat!

Keynote speaker David A. Robertson was a highlight of the day. A bestselling and multi award-winning author of children’s books, graphic novels, and novels, David is one of few authors to win two Governor General’s Literary Awards; one of them for When We Were Alone, which depicted life in the Residential School system. 

One thing that jumped out from David’s talk was his commentary around people referring to the Residential School system, the Sixties Scoop, and other atrocities by saying, “Why can’t you just get over it?” He quoted Justice Murray Sinclair who responded to that same question with “Why can’t we remember?” When we think of the reverence paid to World War veterans, to our own loved ones who have passed, and to many other historic events, it is clear that remembering all of Indigenous history in Canada - good and bad - is the only way forward.

Horizon was also honoured to welcome Elder Gilbert Kewistep who helped us begin our day in a good way. Elder Kewistep is a Residential School Survivor, Knowledge Keeper, Professor in the Saskatchewan Indigenous Social Work program at First Nations University of Canada, and a member of the Yellow Quill First Nation. We certainly appreciated him making time in his schedule for us and beginning each part of the day in a good way.  

Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA) Executive Meeting

I joined the CASSA executive board meeting virtually on Monday in my role as western representative for the School Superintendents’ Association in the USA (AASA). I continue to find my involvement in both organizations to be extremely beneficial as I am able to connect and learn from peers across North America.

Learning Improvement Plan Reviews

Superintendents Terry Leibel, Trish Maxwell, and Bryan McNabb and I met with Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Humboldt Public, Foam Lake Elementary, and New Horizon Hutterian school administrators to review their Learning Improvement Plans last week. As always, we recognize the significant effort and dedication put into crafting the Learning Improvement Plans at the school level, and are grateful to our administrators and all who are involved in shaping these important plans. While I was able to join Bryan McNabb for the LIP meeting with principal Tara Hartl at New Horizon Colony, Trish met with principal Cheryl Farrell on her own as I was tied up with emergency meetings involving contingency planning. 

Provincial Directors Meeting

I joined Directors of Education from across Saskatchewan on Tuesday afternoon to discuss matters concerning our provincial school divisions, including the recent announcement of the Parents Bill of Rights. The legislation means the court case that was to be held regarding the human rights question, is no longer moving forward through this hearing. We expect to hear more about court challenges in the future, but for now, the law is in place and doesn’t change much related to what teachers do. Much discussion was held pertaining to this bill and it flowed into an important discussion with the Deputy Minister and his assistants. We also spent significant time talking about the Sask DLC and some of the concerns that are being raised across the province. 

Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was fortunate to attend the Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network's in-person national roundtable. This event marked a significant shift from our previous two years of virtual meetings. The network, consisting of around 30 school system leaders from across Canada, including representatives from CSBA, SSBA, LEADS, and CASSA, has been working diligently to address critical topics related to school mental health. I have had the pleasure of being part of the network since its inception, representing LEADS and Saskatchewan system leaders on the committee. 

During our roundtable, our focus was on scalable and sustainable practices to support school mental health and well-being. We aimed to gather knowledge and insights that would serve as the foundation for the development of a national school mental health resource for school system leaders. The format of the event included a combination of large group presentations and small group discussions, with a special emphasis on learning from provincial and territorial leaders about how they've successfully facilitated district and provincial efforts to enhance school mental health and well-being.

Our goal was to leave the roundtable with a well-defined framework for a national resource tailored to the unique needs of school system leaders. Although we only got to the infancy stage of this plan, the event was an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to contribute value to the Canadian school mental health landscape. The initiative has been well-received and we extend our gratitude to the McConnell Foundation for their continued funding, which will support the expansion of this concept throughout 2023.

Michael Jordan - Canadian Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (CIAAA) Achievement

I am pleased to recognize and celebrate the recent professional development achievement of Principal Michael Jordan of Wynyard Elementary. Michael has shown commitment to growth and excellence by successfully completing the initial phase of the CIAAA Certification program. Please join me in congratulating Michael on this important accomplishment. 

Provincial Soccer Championships

Congratulations to Horizon’s junior and senior soccer athletes and coaches on an excellent season. Three HCAA teams competed in provincial championships this past weekend in some extremely challenging weather conditions! In the 3A category, Cudworth/Middle Lake won bronze, and in the 4A category Lake Lenore/Annaheim/Muenster took home silver, while host team Humboldt Collegiate won bronze. Congratulations to all the athletes, coaches, and parents for an excellent season! 

Well, it appears winter is upon us, and we haven’t even made it to November. I do hope some sun and warm temperatures are around the corner because, I don’t know about you, but I’m just not ready. I know Kam Kiland, Manager of Facility Services shared with me that the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a snow-filled winter. Like the odds makers, I would never bet against the spread in the same way that the almanac is nearly always accurate. It’s already proving to be the case, so I’m glad I got my snowblower out. Now for the winter tires. 

Have a great week, everyone. Keep inspiring each other toward greatness. You are certainly on a very good path, and the true benefactors are our children. 


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

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]