Around 900 teachers, school staff and division office personnel met in Humboldt on Wednesday, August 30 to get geared up for a new school year. It was the 10th annual Horizon School Division Celebration Day at the Humboldt Uniplex. The Horizon School Division is one of the geographically largest divisions in the province, spanning from the Qu'Appelle Valley in the south to the Saskatchewan River in the north. It’s also composed of educators and support personnel who are immensely proud of the work they do, and they are exuberant when it comes to expressing their commitment to students and education.  

Division Director Kevin Garinger opened the day with an address that clearly motivated the attendees to continue that commitment to personal and professional development. He credited the Division’s success and continued improvement, as measured learning outcomes, to the teams in each of the Division’s 43 schools. That success stems from an understanding of purpose that comes from a reflection on whether one is satisfied or engaged in their work. 

“We want to go higher than satisfaction,” Garinger challenged. “We want to go higher than engagement. We want to be in a position where we are all at an inspired level. Just like your kids need you to help them with inspiration, you need each other to do the same, because inspiration is the top of the mountain." 

Drawing on an analogy from the business world, Garinger quoted Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard School of Business, stating “purpose driven work is fast becoming a prerequisite to meaningful innovation and sustainable business performance. You can’t micromanage people to purpose driven work; you can’t even motivate them to it – they've got to be inspired to it.” 

That type of inspired thinking leads to greater productivity and ultimately stronger growth results, stated Garinger. He shared the ten year and year over year improvements in student learning measured by reading and performance levels, and in the reduction of the numbers of at risk students in the division. Indeed, being inspired and inspiring others results in a “competitive advantage” in any environment, said Garinger, based on the research of Steven R Covey, author of the oft-quoted “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” 

“Inspiring others is a learnable skill,” noted Garinger, based of Covey’s writings. “We can learn to inspire. Every one of us can inspire. To do that, we need to connect with people.” 

Garinger drew on the experiences of immunologist and viral researcher Logan Banadyga, originally from Wadena, who later in the day would  be honoured with a place on the Horizon Division Wall of Fame. The efforts of teachers and mentors to inspire a young prairie student led to an amazing career in research that is helping to crack the code on Ebola and other deadly viruses. 

Numerous individual students and groups performed and delighted the audience with their talents, delivering once again that message of inspiration.  

Follow the Celebration Day series highlighting those educators and students who contributed to school, and ultimately society’s successes, right here on Discover Humboldt.  

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