Young Creatives Teaching Artists Enhance Learning

Young Creatives Teaching Artists Enhance Learning 
Artists-in-Residence Program Launches With Artist Roster

Over the last several weeks, the Young Creatives Artists-in-Residence committee held multiple auditions for the Young Creatives Artists-in-Residence Program. We are pleased to announce that six highly-qualified and talented artists from the greater Lansing area, who are members of the Arts Council, have been chosen to enhance arts programming in school districts around the tri-counties. 

Building the Roster

Our online roster features complete information about this year’s teaching artists, including photos, bios and contact information, allowing classroom teachers to find and choose a teaching artist who best fits their needs. The teaching artists will work along side classroom teachers, certified art and music specialists and physical education specialists to create a holistic and collaborative classroom experience. The six artists represent music, visual arts and dance/movement.

A Shared Endeavor

The artists, specialists and teacher collaboration allows for the creation of arts education classes that allign with the goals of  the national model as presented in Americans for the Arts “Shared Endeavor.” This model ensures students get a well-rounded arts experience that reflects the learning goals of the classroom curriculum and integrates art into that experience.

Adding Value

Due to funding provided by the Lansing Rotary Foundation and the Dart Foundation, the first artists-in-residence will be placed in the Lansing School District. This effort adds value to and supplements the work currently being provided by area arts organizations, including Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Happendance, REACH Studio Art Center, Impression 5 Science Museum and the MSUFCU Institute for Art & Creativity at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts to name just a few. As the Young Creatives Program grows, we plan to add more artists to the roster and enhance the resource section to include other in-school learning opportunities that are available for students.


We are proud to introduce this year’s teaching artists for the Young Creatives Artists-in-Residence Program!

Ben Hassenger

Teaching Artist

Musician and Performer

Ben Hassenger is a teaching artist, with a long songwriting and performing background as well as teaching experience in a variety of environments including; special education, English as a Second Language, international cultural exchange, and child and adult musical instruction in public schools and the community. In addition, he founded and manages the annual Mighty Uke Day festival in Old Town Lansing and Uketoberfest at Interlochen Center for the Arts and is a sought-after performer and instructor at various festivals across the U.S. and Canada. 

Ben holds a degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Michigan State University with a Certificate in Educational Technology. His main instrument for teaching and performing is the ukulele; he finds it accessible, non-intimidating, and easy to learn basic chords and musical elements on. Students with little musical experience and/or special needs can experience near-immediate gratification and joy with the instrument. He enjoys working with students of all ages, levels, and demands.  

Wanda Degan

Teaching Artist

Musician and Performer

Wanda Degan is a professional folk musician who has performed all over the state of Michigan and beyond in a career that spans over 30 years. Her passion for teaching others how to play the mountain dulcimer & autoharp has led her to work in a wide variety of settings including folk festivals, museums, libraries and schools, and she teaches private lessons at Elderly Instruments in Lansing as well as workshops thru Interlochen’s College of Creative Arts. 

Wanda’s professional highlights include: performing in state parks & campgrounds in northern Michigan as part of Michigan’s Great Outdoors Culture Tour; working as a Teaching Artist with both the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts (Michigan Wolf Trap Program) and the Lincoln Center Institute of New York (through the Lansing School District’s Michigan Art Project). 

Julian Van Dyke

Teaching Artist

Mural Painter and Book Illustrator

Julian Van Dyke has worked in the Lansing School’s for the last 10 years painting murals. Julian is also a published author and illustrator, exhibition artist with artwork on display in Detroit and New York.  He is currently working as a facilitator with the new store front in the Lansing Mall, Keys to Creativity.




Liz Wylegala

Teaching Artist

Visual and Performance Arts

Liz Wylegala is a visual artist who has been teaching children in both public and private settings for 25 years. She is an arts integration specialist who believes that meaningful and solid arts education can easily be taught in conjunction with the core curriculum.  

“The connections that students’ make through the arts are profound and reinforce 21st Century thinking skills!”  Liz’s talent and connection with students encourages them to blossom and shine as young artists.

M. Jane Gamble

Teaching Artist

Dance and Creative Movement

Jane Gamble became Artistic Director of Happendance in 1994, serving in that capacity until 2003. She is a featured Happendance teacher as well as an instructor for many area preschools, day cares, and nursery schools and loves working with that population. She also created and directs an annual “Nutcracker in a Nutshell” which draws over 90 children participants a year. Jane also certified in Gyrokinesis® and Gyrotonic® exercise and has attained pre-trainer status in both disciplines.


Diane Newman

Teaching Artist

Dance and Creative Movement

Diane Newman is a professional dancer, director, and educator. In 1976 she founded the professional dance company, Happendance. In 1977 she created the To Go Team, an outreach component of Happendance which provides dance performances, classroom workshops, and extended teaching residencies throughout mid-Michigan. 

In 1981 and again in 2007, Diane was honored by the Michigan Dance Council as Michigan Dance Educator of the Year. Diane co-authored Interdisciplinary Learning through Dance: 101 MOVEntures, a book containing lessons for the K-5 classroom teacher who wants to use dance and movement to reinforce core curriculum and the arts. In 2010, she was a top-ten finalist for “Greater Lansing Woman of the Year” and was profiled in the November 2014 issue of Dance Teacher, a national magazine.