Mike VanLeeuwen ’83 – A Lifetime of Teaching

AeN_April2013_1When Mike VanLeeuwen ’83 (Elementary Education) left his Maryland home to begin college at RWC, he had no idea the kind of impact that decision would have.  Looking back on his Roberts experience 30 years later, Mike understands that his years on campus had a profound effect on the person he is today and his vocation of education. 

Mike taught elementary education for a decade and spent an additional 10 years as principal of a Maryland school.  He currently serves as President of the Charles Finney School (Penfield, NY).  In his current role for the past five years, Mike has tried to embody the school’s ethos as it encourages students to, “Do Something Greater.”  Mike states, “It is our vision to raise up a generation that is taught through God’s word to reach out to their communities with Christ-like compassion, develop Godly character, and to use our gifts in creative ways in His service.”  In many respects, Finney’s goals mirror Mike’s experiences at Roberts.

Mike was influenced and mentored by a number of individuals in three key areas:  athletics, academics, and spiritual life.  People who stand out in Mike’s memory include Coaches Craig Hayward (Track & Field) and Mike Faro (Soccer), Pastor Ray McGinnis at Pearce Memorial Free Methodist Church, Dave Morrow (Admissions), and Professors Magill and Basinger.  These men cared for Mike, giving him Godly examples of how to live.

He admits not being the most disciplined student at Roberts.  However, his experiences, and the people who taught him, laid a solid foundation which has helped him succeed.  Living once again in Rochester, Mike has a new appreciation for the work of Roberts as he sees the impact of the College in the community and interacts with a new generation of graduates.

Work at The Charles Finney School continues to go well, and he enjoys seeing students graduate and go on to attend Roberts.  Mike looks forward to strengthening the relationship between Roberts and Finney in the years to come, potentially with dual-credit opportunities.

Mike is married to Koleen (Koerper) ’88.  They will celebrate their 27th anniversary in July.  They have five children, four girls and a boy, ranging in ages from 10-22.  Life keeps them busy.  Koleen has been a great source of patience and flexibility, especially since Mike’s work has had them moving several times to accept positions.  They live in Ontario, NY.