Laura VanLeeuwen just finished her fourteenth year as Director of Choral Activities for Shawnee Mission West High School. She previously spent one year at Wichita State University teaching voice and the women's choir and spent a semester teaching voice at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. She holds found music degrees: a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Wichita State University, a Bachelor of Music Education, a Masters in Voice Performance, and a Masters in Choral Conducting, all from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Ms. VanLeeuwen conducts five choirs at Shawnee Mission West and serves as the vocal director/conductor for the annual school musical. Also, Laura participates in many Kansas City musical theatre productions as a performer, musical director, and conductor. Under her leadership, the Shawnee Mission West choirs have demonstrated their talent and leadership through consistent success and/or superior ratings at Regional and State Solo/Ensemble Festivals, selection to district and state choirs, and Kansas Large Group State Festival. Performances have included Emporia State University, Wichita State University, KMEA, Orlando, Chicago, Anaheim, St. Louis, and a performance by invitation at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Ms. VanLeeuwen is an active member of the KCDA Board, having served as the Northeast District Representative since 2003. She currently serves are President of the organization. In addition, she is very involved with KMEA having served as the Northeast District Choral Chair, is currently the Northeast District Past President, and was named the Outstanding Northeast District High School Choral Teacher for 2009. Laura maintains an active schedule as teacher, choral clinician, music director, conductor, and adjudicator.
Dr. David B. Gardner, KCDA President
This year’s KMEA In-Service Workshop was one to remember! The conference began as Wichita was experiencing its biggest snow storm in 50 years, and I’m fairly sure that the number of cancelled concerts and clinics outweighed the number of ones that actually took place. In spite of all that, for those who were able to make it, it was a very special time. The pace was slower—people had time to talk, to network, to share stories. The entire workshop served as a reminder to me that even though concerts and clinics are wonderful and important, it’s also important to spend informal time with friends and colleagues. The best thing about serving as your president these past two years is that it’s given me a chance to get to know so many of you better. I want to thank the entire KCDA board for making it a joy to serve. Their willingness to work, to encourage, to jump in and help wherever needed is a great example of selflessness. I also want to thank each of you, our members: your day-in and day-out commitment to choral excellence and to changing lives through music is inspiring.
I think I’m safe in promising that no record-breaking snow storm will hinder the KCDA Summer Convention this coming July, and I hope we have a record-breaking number of attendees at what promises to be a wonderful, inspiring, equipping, encouraging time. Here are some highlights: