A Woodbury middle school counselor known for her positive approach has been named Educator of the Year by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.

Robin Kazek works with eighth-graders and their families at Lake Middle School, and was nominated for the honor by Principal Molly Roeske.

A South Washington County School District news release said that Kazek, as a school counselor, is relied upon for "strength, support and education through difficult times," and that she often works outside the regular school day.

"Mrs. Kazek has reminded each of us as a school community that taking care of our students emotionally helps students experience continued success academically," Roeske said.

She was to be recognized last Friday at the chamber's annual gala at the Prom Center in Oakdale.

The Woodbury chamber has a history of honoring educators who offer instruction or assistance beyond the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic.

Last year's honoree was Brent Comeau, then the band director at Woodbury High School, who now works at East Ridge High.


Candidates wanted for vacant board seat

The Mahtomedi school board is accepting applications to fill the seat vacated by Steve Wolgamot, who retired from the board this month after 15 years.

"I've tried to help our schools for over 30 years now, and the personal rewards are wonderful. For 15 years, I've been a board member. [My wife] is retired from her own 38 years as a teacher, and our desire for travel conflicts with a regular meeting schedule, so I will be leaving the board," Wolgamot wrote in a letter.

"It has been an honor to serve. I thank you and the community for that privilege."

Wolgamot's replacement will serve the remainder of his term, which expires in November.

Those interested in the position must submit an application to the superintendent's office by Jan. 29. To obtain an application, contact Dawn Maslowski at 651-407-2002 or dawn.maslowski@mahtomedi.k12.mn.us.


Pakistani girl inspires student-led book drive

A book drive inspired by the words of a Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban in 2012 has resulted in the collecton of more than 250 books at the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, a parent at the charter school reported recently.

Jayshree Seth, whose daughter, Manashree Padiyath, launched the book drive late last year, said this month that the family now is working with overseas contacts and the nonprofit group, Read Indeed, to find a home for the books in Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head in October 2012 on her way back from school in Pakistan's Swat Valley. The Taliban, which has long opposed educating girls in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, said it targeted her because she was campaigning for girls to go to school and was promoting "Western thinking."

Malala has since recovered and celebrated her 16th birthday with a speech at the United Nations in July.

New charter school set to open in Woodbury

A plan for a charter school in Woodbury has been approved by the state Department of Education.

The state board approved the creation of the Woodbury Leadership Academy, scheduled to open this fall for grades K-8.

The board had rejected a previous plan from the Volunteers of America. A second plan was submitted on Dec. 20, which met the education department's approval.

Woodbury Leadership Academy, which plans to open in September, will "provide a safe environment with teachers and students all focused on a challenging curriculum and a healthy environment that fosters student leaders," according to the school's website.

Libor Jany,

Anthony Lonetree