Dr. Mario Vanheuckelom is excited to have been given the opportunity to be the principal at Lakenheath Middle School and it is his goal to continue to utilize his experience, knowledge and passion for learning to serve the students and community. He is dedicated to hard work, yet knows that preserving balance between work and home life, and sustaining a good sense of humor are key elements to success.
Dr. Vanheuckelom was born in Belgium, and immigrated to the United States in 1992 at the age of 24. Shortly after becoming a U.S. resident, he began his education at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in Human Resources from National University, San Diego. He continued his education by earning a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Azusa Pacific and received his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne in California.
Prior to accepting the position at LMS, Dr. Vanheuckelom served as a teacher and an administrator for a total of 13 years in California, he served as the principal at SHAPE ES (2010 to 2014) and SHAPE MS (2014 to 2019). During his time as a teacher in CA, he gained experience ranging from working within the K-8 level, one on one home hospital teacher for severely handicapped students, and teaching adult education. As an administrator he has provided leadership from General Education to Moderate and Severe level. During his tenure, SHAPE American Elementary was awarded the National Blue Ribbon award in 2012.
Dr. Vanheuckelom has been married to his lovely wife Michelle for 27 years, she is also a teacher, and they have one son and two daughters. The Vanheuckelom family loves traveling, hiking, soccer, and spending time with friends and family.
He has been serving DoDEA for the past 9 years, collaborating with all, supporting DoDEA’s mission, and supporting our vision for our school. He is excited to become part of the Lakenheath community.
Mrs. Sara Schmidt’s degrees include a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Iowa State University, a Master of Science in Education from St. John’s University and a Master of Education in Leadership from Teachers College Columbia University in New York. Mrs. Schmidt has been a teacher since 2002 and joined DoDEA in 2005 as a 5th grade teacher at Yokota West Elementary School in Japan.
In 2013 she was promoted to assistant principal and has worked in the Eifel Schools (Spangdahlem and Bitburg Elementary) since that time. While working in the Eifel, Mrs. Schmidt consolidated two schools, worked to design/build temporary school facilities and moved the elementary school twice. Mrs. Schmidt understands how crucial a strong military-school partnership is in order to ensure community success and troop readiness at the local level.
Prior to joining DoDEA, Mrs Schmidt worked as an interior designer in New York City. She was awarded a New York City Teaching Fellowship in 2002 and worked for two-years at an innercity school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Mrs. Schmidt moved to Japan in 2004 where she taught English to Japanese high school students, offering her a unique perspective on learning English as a second language and the Japanese culture.
Mrs. Schmidt is passionate about the education of our children and the environment in which they learn. She believes that every child deserves a safe, positive and supportive environment in which to experiment and grow, both socially and intellectually. Mrs. Schmidt is consistently amazed by the work of our US Armed Forces and is thankful for the opportunity to ensure our children have the best educational experience possible while overseas.