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MDE Launches Student Inspiration Project Promotes Enthusiasm for Learning among Michigan Students

March 31, 2015

LANSING – A new statewide program, recognizing the need for more engagement in classrooms, focuses on inspiring kids in grades four through eight, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

The Student Inspiration Project, introduced at a recent State Board of Education meeting, is designed to help motivate students to fully engage in their education before they enter ninth grade.

“The best way to get students personally involved in their education is to get their attention, listen to them, and then inspire them in ways they understand,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said. “This project aims at doing that, with humor and subtle insights they can connect with. The end goal is having students helping students be interested in learning, and staying motivated.”

The School Inspiration Project’s first initiative, Almost Worst Ideas, was designed by global advertising agency Leo Burnett from its offices in metro Detroit.

The campaign uses humor and exaggeration to deliver the message that although there are some far-fetched ideas that go wrong, none are worse than giving up on school.  The campaign includes in- and out-of-school components, including a website where students can share ideas that they would like to see implemented in their own schools.

Linda Forward, Interim Deputy Superintendent at MDE, said, “We see the Almost Worst Ideas campaign as a first step in a very long-term commitment to promoting the voices and ideas of students within Michigan’s public schools.

“Our hope is that once we capture students’ imaginations and attention, years two and beyond will feature the sponsorship of student voice forums and provide in-person and virtual ways for kids to connect with school and community leaders.”

An outgrowth of the MDE’s support of innovative statewide school improvement initiatives, the Student Inspiration Project itself was motivated by a September 2014 survey that found a lack of educational commitment among almost 1,000 Michigan students in grades four through 12.

According to the survey by market research and strategy firm YouGov, 94 percent of surveyed students said motivation is essential to a great education, but only 24 percent said they feel motivated to learn.

Ironically, the research revealed, most surveyed students personally value academic achievement – 77 percent plan to attend college – but they don’t believe their peers share their values.

A website with more information about this exciting project and detailed research findings is available at

Those interested in participating may contact Kristen Harmeling at or Ann-Marie Smith at