Ken Garinger receives Distinguished Leadership Award

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Holly Godson, president of the Council of School Administrators, and Mark Ramsankar, President of the Alberta Teachers' Association congratulate Ken Garinger, centre, on his Distinguished Leadership Award.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Ken Garinger.

Just after Easter, he left his eight-year run as principal of County Central High School in Vulcan to take on a new job as Palliser Regional Schools’ Associate Superintendent (Human Resources). He joins Central Office just as hiring season hits full stride.

He continues to oversee the division’s Technology Services department, a role he stepped into earlier this year.

And Thursday night, he heads to Calgary to accept a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Alberta Teachers’ Association Council for School Leadership.

“It’s so humbling,” Garinger said. “This award really reflects the work of the people in your organization, the staff at County Central, and the leadership in Central Office. Leadership really is about the work of the people that you are rowing the boat with.”

Garinger, a 23-year teacher, was nominated by County Central High School Vice-Principal Tracy Inaba, who reflected on the culture he created at the school. Students enjoy learning in a safe, caring environment with high expectations for both students and staff.

“In his time as principal, Ken managed to build incredibly strong relationships with students, parents, teachers, support staff and the community as a whole,” Inaba said.

Garinger won Excellence in Teaching Award, 2012

In 2012, Garinger won a provincial Excellence in Teaching Award, an honour made even more special because he was nominated by a student. In 2013, the school was nominated for a regional inclusive education award.

She said he found ways to connect with students at an individual level. In one example, “Mr. G” would pick up a student for before-school workouts in the school’s fitness centre, giving the student one more reason to come to school in the morning and the principal an opportunity to build a positive relationship.

Inaba said Garinger encouraged her to enter school administration and has served as a valued mentor.

“Other teachers have been encouraged to take on leadership roles as acting principal, mentors to beginning teachers, and committee leads,” she said. “With Ken’s guidance, teachers have also been encouraged to participate in our district’s lead teacher cohort which allows staff to develop the skills that might help them move into formal leadership roles. This culture of encouragement has created a strong leadership within our school.”

Palliser Regional Schools Superintendent Kevin Gietz said Garinger has served as a mentor to other beginning school administrators in Palliser. He’s presented to the Administrators Induction and Mentorship group for beginning principals and vice-principals, been part of the Palliser technology advisory committee, and led workshops on data analysis to help other Palliser staff better understand the results of provincial achievement tests and diploma exams.

“Ken keeps up on educational research, is always learning from others' best practices and he does a tremendous job of using data to inform his practice,” Gietz said. “He’s passionate about doing what’s best for students and ensuring students are at the centre of the decisions he makes.”

Second straight year a Palliser principal has received award

This is the second year in a row that a Palliser principal has been acknowledged with this leadership award. Sherrie Nickel, principal of Jennie Emery Elementary School, received the Distinguished Leadership Award last year.

Garinger will attend the awards celebration in Calgary with Kevin Garinger, his twin brother and predecessor in the Associate Superintendent (Human Resources) office. Kevin leaves later this month to assume the role of Director/CEO of a school division in Saskatchewan.

Coincidentally, another Distinguished Leadership Award winner this year is Michael Nightingale, currently a principal of a school in Taber. Nightingale recently accepted the position of Director of Human Resources in Palliser. He’ll be working directly with Ken Garinger starting this summer.