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Lake Middle School counselor named "Educator of the Year"

Lake Middle School counselor Robin Kazek has been named the Educator of the Year by the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lake Middle School counselor Robin Kazek started out her career as a Spanish teacher, but she always wanted something more.

 “(Teaching was) always something I wanted to do since I was a kid – playing school and teaching my stuffed animals,” she said. “I kind of knew I didn’t want to be in the classroom forever.”

It was in 2005 when she began working as a school counselor at Lake Middle School.

“There’s definitely parts of the classroom that I miss, but I wanted to work with kids on a different level,” she said.

Apparently Kazek made the right decision in switching to counseling.

The Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce named Kazek Educator of the Year.

Kazek was honored Jan. 24 during the annual awards gala.

“I was completely and totally shocked,” she said. “It’s definitely an honor.

“I feel like we’re all here doing what’s best for kids, so it’s humbling and hard for me to accept the award on my behalf, so I feel like I’m accepting it on behalf of all educators.”

Lake Middle School Principal Molly Roeske, who submitted a nomination letter, said Kazek is very deserving of the reward.

“(She) has displayed exceptional commitment to the education and needs of her eighth grade students and family in her every action and interaction,” she said. “Her genuine positivity, sincerity and dedication has created experiences that are often described as exceptional by her students and colleagues during some very difficult life experiences. 

“(She)looks for the best in every situation and counsels each student she comes in contact with, with the goal that the educational environment can be full of optimism, endless opportunities, continued learning and an overall environment of strength, support and collaboration for students.”

At Lake Middle School, Kazek alternates among the sixth, seventh and eighth grades since the school counselors follow their students for three years.

“We loop with our kids,” she said, “so they have one constant supportive person.”

Lake Middle School’s counseling is three-pronged, so Kazek deals with academics, personal and social and careers on any given day.

“We really get to work with the kids on those three different levels,” she said. “Every day is different.”

Currently, Kazek said the big thing students are coming to her with are registration questions since students are getting ready to head to high school next year.

However, students also come to Kazek with everything from grades to personal problems and even home issues. 

“My schedule can be very inconsistent from day to day,” she said, “which I also really enjoy because it keeps things mixed up and keeps things moving.”

Creating the best program

Kazek and the other school counselors are currently working with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to receive their Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) certification.

Kazek said the primary purpose of the RAMP certification is to ensure that Lake Middle School has the best counseling program possible.

“We’re evaluating the program that we have to make sure that our program is really cut to meet the standards,” she said. “We’re looking at areas for improvement and things we can change.”

Kazek said she wouldn’t trade being a middle school counselor for anything.

“I love seeing kids succeed,” she said. “I really like middle school kids because they are impressionable, they are fun and they’re still excited about learning. “Given the proper support all students can achieve and attain success.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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