Lakeville North coach leaves U.S. to lead a Christian school in the Dominican Republic
Lakeville North High School football coach Mike Zweber has left the football field for the mission field.
After teaching at Lakeville North for 16 years, Mike and his wife, Becky, sold their home, possessions and three cars, packed up and moved to the Dominican Republic with their children – Malia, 7, and Ty, 5.
There, the coach who led North’s football team from 2005-2009 is the new director of Doulos Discover School, a Christian school Mike worked at for a week in February as part of a mission team.
“I thought at that time, it wouldn’t be anything more, but it turns out it’s going to be a complete life-changer,” Mike said before the family left July 21.
He said at first, Becky was the only one who felt God was calling them to the Dominican Republic, but Mike resisted, saying he did not feel it was the right move.
“But in the weeks to come, as my wife and I prayed about what God had in store for our lives,” Mike said, “it became more and more evident to me that this is where we were supposed to be.”
In his new position, Mike said he will focus on developing the school, fostering relationships with existing partner churches and adding new ones.
The interdenominational Christian school’s mission is to equip students, grades pre-kindergarten through 12, with a Biblical worldview; all teachers are unpaid missionaries sponsored by churches.
They strive to serve students from a mix of economic backgrounds, a challenge in a place where only the wealthy can afford education.
“There is a large, very obvious separation in the community between the haves and the have-nots,” Mike said. “On campus, our goal is to eliminate that separation.”
The school is dedicated to providing equal opportunities for children to receive a quality education, and reserves half its space for students whose education is sponsored by families in the United States.
“We want to remove that barrier of socioeconomic class, and make sure all kids can get the same education,” Mike said.
In its ninth year, the school is small, in part because it is common for students to drop out before reaching ninth grade, a culture the teaching staff is working to change, Mike said.
“We have had three graduating classes now,” Mike said. “The goal was to get 20 kids in each grade, but we’re continually trying to fight a paradigm shift to get students in the upper grades to want to continue with school.”
Another cultural shift for the Zwebers will be adjusting to life where ”football” means soccer.
“Lakeville football has always been heavily ingrained in me,” said Mike, who was a Panther from third grade through graduation in 1992.
He went on to play football at the University of Wisconsin-Stout before returning to his alma mater, teaching business and marketing classes when he was not on the football field. He has also been a DECA adviser for 16 years, and this fall was to start the two-track business academy at Lakeville North.
According to school officials, the academy will now be headed by department head Cindy Nolan and Jennifer J. Johnson, who previously taught business classes at Lakeville South High School. Johnson is also teaching DECA and marketing at North.
The Zwebers have committed to serving in the Dominican Republic for five years.
“It’s definitely something I have felt called from God for a few years to go and do,” Mike said.
Churches interested in sponsoring a mission trip or missionary at the school can find out more by emailing Mike at [email protected]