Mark Roberts: A Calling for Counseling

Lafayette High counselor Mark Roberts possesses two seemingly incongruous skill sets – He’s the rare combination of one gifted with exceptional people skills who also loves the techie details needed as the school’s master scheduler.

A husband and father of two teenage boys, Roberts, 50, happily admits he loves hunkering down with spreadsheets as he matches students with classes for a school with an enrollment of nearly 2,000.

“I love to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T,’ he said cheerfully. “But I don’t get lost in things. There are people attached to those things, and I really enjoy working with the kids.”

Roberts seems to do everything with good cheer. Perhaps that’s what keeps him steady when facing the difficult challenges some students bring to his office.

With a diverse student population, Roberts can pivot from advising one student on an Ivy League school choice to helping the next student get access to breakfast every day.

That’s why there is no such thing as a typical day.

“I can be helping a student with how to get a B in calculus when sitting on a D, and then a kid will come in with depression and suicidal thoughts and that becomes two hours of my day,” he said.

With a caseload of 240 students, Roberts is prepared to address 240 scenarios. His abilities have not gone unnoticed.

“Mark has exemplary rapport with students,” Principal Bryne Jacobs said. “He gives them honest feedback and guidance for life at Lafayette and for once they leave here.”

Roberts is a Lafayette alum with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from UK in educational counseling and psychology.

For 15 years, he worked at Lexington Christian Academy, first as a history teacher and then as the high school’s first counselor. Because LCA was a small school, Roberts wore numerous hats, which was excellent preparation for the Lafayette job he accepted five years ago.

Roberts is an active member of the Kentucky Association of College and Admissions Counselors, and recently participated in professional development at Bluegrass Challenge, a highly structured program at Fort Knox for kids at risk of becoming dropouts.

At Lafayette, his peers elected him to the Faculty Advisory Council, which addresses staff concerns with administrators.

“That speaks volumes about what his peers think of Mark,” Jacobs said. “They want someone they trust, someone who is a problem solver.”

Roberts has solved one problem – his place in the world. The Lafayette counseling office is where he’s meant to be.

“Everything here is student first, so this isn’t a job, it’s a calling,” he said. “Everybody is created to do something, and I feel like I’m supposed to be right here.”
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