2022 brought a collective sigh of relief for teachers and students throughout the province as they could return to in-school instruction and activities. That relief anchored the optimism felt in the Horizon School Division. Director of Education Kevin Garinger looks back on the year grateful to have seen all the facets of face-to-face teaching, coaching, and everyday interaction return.

“We were able to have extra-curricular activities, in person instruction, all those things that are important in the sporting world and in our arts and entertainment that are so important to our kids. It brought back that sense of normalcy.” 

School Community Councils were re-engaged, and with that brought school carnivals and concerts - the things that make the school a hub in the community. 

In the spring of 2022, the Division with the cooperation of Partners Family Services launched the Humboldt Early Years Resource Centre, one of only a handful of such centres in the province. 

“It’s been tremendous for Humboldt and the region to support our children who are not yet school aged,” Garinger says. “It’s been very well received, and there’s lots of great things happening.”

The work the Horizon Board of Education has pursued around Truth and Reconciliation continued, and its foundational work that Garinger is proud to see schools committed to. In 2021, Horizon School Division received the Premier’s Board of Education Award for Excellence in Education. The award recognized the work done on George Gordon First Nation with the Mikiwahp (Tipi) Project. The Division also introduced the Seven Generations Walk, a remarkable interpretation of the experiences of residential school survivors. 

“The Board received the award that we were very proud of, but now we’ve been able to extend that and do the initial work on the focus of that award. That’s the follow up, and our schools have been involved in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and National Indigenous People’s Day. We’ve had guest speakers and hosted community events. We’ve worked with the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Humboldt who have been important partners in that work.”

The Division continued on important infrastructure work, including upgrade to LED lighting that Garinger says will result in a 20-25 percent energy savings. Pre-K offerings were expanded to an additional 11 schools, all without need for additional funding. As well, the Division was able to host around 50 practicum students from Education faculties at the U of S and U or R, ushering in a new generation of teachers.

The holiday season sees a return of school Christmas concerts and lunches, and of course, the return of the Division’s Christmas Hamper Project. The project relies on the generosity of individuals both within and outside the school system, and from local businesses and charitable organizations. 

“This year, we are going to have 427 children supported, 155 families across our system who otherwise wouldn’t have the same type of Christmas without that level of support.”

The hampers include important winter staples like toques and mitts, toiletries and toothpaste, but also books and an age-suitable gift. Gift cards will provide access to a family Christmas meal, again through the generosity of retail and charitable partners. 

On behalf of the staff and board, Garinger wishes all families across the Division and beyond a wonderful, safe, and satisfying holiday season.