Engaging Lansing Public Schools’ Students BEYOND Insights into Creativity, Global Culture, and Arts & Humanities

The word “excitement” only begins to capture the atmosphere on the first day of this fall’s BEYOND Insights program at Michigan State University. Forty 6th graders from Lansing’s Pattengill Middle School and Post Oak Magnet School flooded a lower-floor classroom in the MSU Union, early one Friday morning, to discover a world filled with technological tools, creative resources and eager instructors.

As the program progressed through the passing weeks, frenzied activity transformed into passionate eagerness to explore and learn. And by the end of the program, the children had grasped new and exciting endeavors intellectually, creatively and culturally.

Designed as a series of fun and stimulating workshops, BEYOND Insights engages 6th-grade Lansing Public Schools students in a wide range of activities surrounding creativity, global culture, and the arts & humanities. This is the second year that the workshops were offered at various locations across the MSU campus and student reception for BEYOND Insights has been incredible.

a young girl getting help from an MSU student

Collaboration is Key to Success

BEYOND Insights would not be the exceptional program it is today without the collaboration of Lansing Public Schools and the MSU College of Arts & Letters. The partnership includes students, faculty and volunteer staff from the college as well as Lansing Public Schools. The College’s participation involves several units including Film Studies, the Writing Center, the Creative Exploratory, the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA), and the Center for Applied Inclusive Teaching and Learning in the Arts and Humanities (CAITLAH).

The program runs for five weeks, offering one workshop per week. Developed as a two-session program, BEYOND Insights involved two different groups of children from Lansing Public Schools taking part in the experience.

Each weekly-workshop had a centralized theme, evolving into a combination of insightful skills and lessons. Children had the opportunity to experiment with a wide range of activities including typography, creating Vine videos, exploring creative writing, identifying diversity within everyday life and partaking in cultural activities from around the world.

In their own distinct and unique ways, students from each session captivated those around them through their energy and passion for learning. Their enthusiasm further strengthened the impact of the program by mirroring its mission to give students the opportunity to go beyond their individual insights with passion and an open mind.

man holding up origami sheet talks to students

Lessons Learned

Once the program had concluded, many of the students showed their appreciation by sending thank you letters to those who had conducted the BEYOND Insights workshops at MSU. With enthusiasm and poise, one student wrote, “I learned that no matter what people think, I am beautiful,” attesting to the growth and self-realization the student participants experienced during BEYOND Insights.

Providing an outlet for creativity and freedom of expression during the program further solidified each student’s individuality, and sharpened a keen awareness of their uniqueness in our world.

Then, too, with two separate sessions of BEYOND Insights workshops, there was an evident contrast in dynamics. Each of the two student groups from Lansing Public Schools drew on its own unique energy to develop a distinct identity. And the depth and breadth of connection realized to the outside world further expanded both groups’ perspectives on authentic human interaction and meaningful engagement.