By Cole Parkinson
The calendar has flipped to 2023 and the Horizon School Division has been offered a break in the schedule to look back at the year that was and also to look ahead to 2023.
While 2022 offered plenty of ups and downs from January to December, overall Horizon was happy with how the year went.
With no COVID-19 restrictions in place, the move back to a more normal situation was positive for everyone.
“Looking back at 2022, it’s been great to move beyond the pandemic’s restrictions. Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of students has done a lot to rejuvenate people and create excitement at school for both staff and students. It’s also allowed schools to rebuild relationships with parents,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools.
While the pandemic hasn’t brought any further challenges, schools have still seen plenty of illnesses in 2022. Along with that, the division is still recovering from the challenges brought on by COVID-19.
“The pandemic’s effects and ongoing staffing challenges stemming from higher-than-normal illness this fall continues to place stress on our staff. Given our strong commitment to staff wellness, we enlisted the help of EdCan Network to implement well-at-work strategies. We are in the early phase of gathering information so that we are informed and able to make decisions regarding the best steps to take to implement system-wide well-at-work strategies to improve workplace wellbeing,” continued Tymensen.
Late in the year, cold weather also presented plenty of challenges for the division as buses ceased to run and it even forced schools to close.
“While the weather at the end of December impacted some of our Christmas concerts, attendance was extremely high, and people were grateful to see their children on stage. It was also great to be able to attend band performances, assemblies, drama productions, and sporting events again,” continued Tymensen.
Tymsenen also touched on the division’s focus on a number of key initiatives within its walls.
“While fostering effective relationships and overall wellness has been a priority, staff continue to focus on strong instruction and providing student interventions when needed. Provincial feedback indicates that we remain one of the top-performing school divisions in Alberta, with 10 out of the 12 provincial performance measures being above the provincial average. It’s great to receive feedback that shows people strongly agree that our schools are engaging students; providing quality education; creating welcoming, caring, respectful, and safe learning environments and that parents feel student supports and services are accessible and opportunities to be involved are present,” said Tymensen. “We’re also pretty excited about the modernization that is taking place in Milk River. We’ve spent the last year designing the new building and are eagerly awaiting the commencement of construction in the beginning of 2023. We’re also grateful for the significant contribution from the community which has allowed us to enhance the size of the gymnasium at Milk River Ridge School.”
Tymensen also touched on work done by teachers and staff over 2022.
“Horizon’s superior performance as measured by quantitative data as well as parent and student surveys, clearly shows how well our teachers and support staff are meeting the needs of students. I’d like to publicly thank each and every one of our staff for the work they do. Their actions make a difference in the lives of young children each and every day,” he said. “ I’d also like to thank those staff who stepped up and became involved in committees, and other collaborative work. I truly believe that we are stronger together and their insight and feedback has allowed us to make better decisions.”
While the year is over, the current school is at its midway point. Horizon staff and students are now back in school and readying for the final half of the school year.
“While December 31, 2022, brings a close to another calendar year, school years are measured from September to June. As such, our year is not quite half over. Nevertheless, the end of 2022, which correlates to the first half of the 2022-2023 school year has certainly passed in the blink of an eye. It seems that only yesterday children were once again starting another school year. I would agree that 2022 had ups and downs, I would also say that for staff there were significant provincial changes. Teachers are implementing a new curriculum in Grades 1 through 6, and have a new code of conduct and teacher discipline process. The province has also mandated early years assessments in Grades 1 through 3,” continued Tymensen.
Heading into the new year, Horizon has plenty on tap.
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