At age 12 Steve Van Bruaene’s Sunday school teacher told his parents that he would grow up to be a great teacher. That message has never left him.

This year Van Bruaene will receive the Alumnus of the Year Award for his excellence in teaching and working with youth.

In 1970 Van Bruaene graduated from Bethel College with a B.A. in Elementary Education. Four years later he received his M.S. in Education through Indiana University. He later earned his principals licensing from Ball State.

Active in the Indiana Principals Leadership Academy and Indiana Association of School Principals, Steve Van Bruaene has been a principal for more than 20 years at several Michiana schools. The last 9 years of his career have been spent as an elementary school principal at Beiger Elementary in Mishawaka, Ind.

Van Bruaene taught at Mary Phillips Elementary School in Mishawaka, Ind., for 14 years prior to becoming a principal. He says he would have remained a teacher had it not been for a tragedy.

“The only principal I ever worked for, Bob Needham, died from a massive heart attack. The next morning I was appointed interim principal,” says Van Bruaene. “I had the credentials to become a principal but I was not seeking a position. I took the change of positions as a sign that I was where God wanted me.”

Most of Van Bruaene’s work has been done through youth. Currently he is beginning a chapter of “All Pro Dad” at Beiger. He is also working with the Mishawaka Lion’s Club to bring fine arts to the elementary schools in the area.

In addition to working with elementary school kids, his connection with his alma mater has remained strong as he has helped to place many Bethel field experience students, assisted with student teacher applicant interviews, served on an Education Department advisory committee and participated in the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation process.

“Bethel holds a special place in my heart,” says Van Bruanene. “The education department has given me an opportunity to come back yearly and interview future teachers and reconnect with where I came from in terms of ideals and skills.”

In his spare time, Van Bruaene is a part of a home church, providing Sunday teaching for adults. He has also served as a deacon at First Christian, Calvary Temple and Calvary Assembly of Elkhart, Ind. He’s proud to be a member of the Mishawaka Optimists Club.

Van Bruaene is a resident of Mishawaka, Ind., and is married to Donna. His spare time is spent reading, gardening, playing golf and visiting his two children and three grandchildren in Texas.

Come back to campus for the award recognition chapel and luncheon during Alumni Weekend Nov. 19 & 20.