CYC 495: Capstone project on diversity and inclusion at Logan Middle School


Photo taken by Liberti Jonas-Jongebloed.

Liberti Jonas-Jongebloed, General Assignment Reporter

Capstones at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) have continuously left lasting impacts on the UWL campus and around the world. Some of these examples include projects published in the Fall 2021 rendition of UWL capstones. Some of these projects from this rendition include topics related to environmental justice, and how COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on our society.  

 As for this fall, one class in the psychology department: CYC 495: Capstone in Child Youth Care under the at-risk children and youth minor, led by associate professor Lisa Caya, is pursuing a capstone project regarding diversity and inclusion at Logan Middle School in La Crosse.  

 Ryley Butler Modaff, a student in the class said, for the project “there is a media team, a publicity team, and an event planning team.” All working together to bring awareness to racial and LGBTQ+ inclusion in middle schools around the La Crosse area.

 Regarding the capstone class, Butler Modaff said, “As a group, we got to decide our own topic and we got to work with our professor to decide what needs were in the community that we needed to address.” In brainstorming ideas with her team, Butler Modaff said, “we thought about the schools we wanted to work with, what group we wanted to work with and we [looked at] inclusion as a general overarching topic.” They also noticed that “looking at La Crosse as a whole [regarding] race, and LGBTQ+ inclusion, [it is prominent that it] is becoming much more of a problem especially with kids growing up in the area.

 In further discussing the project, Butler Modaff said, “We also realized that we didn’t know how to teach inclusion to children because we are always working on it ourselves, but we wanted to use more empathy-based techniques to help them, especially [in regard to] emotional intelligence.”

 While acknowledging that teaching inclusion, in general, is very difficult, Butler Modaff said, “I don’t think we can totally teach them inclusion, but we have two days planned with Logan Middle School and what we plan on using the first day as a lecture day. Teach them, and show them that they are different and that they might have differences from other people.”

 She elaborated and said, “The first day of the two-day activity will serve as a gauge for understanding where the children at Logan Middle School may be at regarding emotional intelligence. In that second day, the group will be tackling how individuals, even middle schoolers, can make a difference through inclusivity and discussing the importance of inclusivity at all levels of life.”

 While discussing the importance of inclusivity in the community, Butler Modaff said, “I think we are definitely in a changing society, and we want to make sure that [children] are prepared for what’s going on … We know that La Crosse has some issues with minorities not being included and [issues with] LGBTQ+ [inclusion] and we want [everyone] to feel that they are heard and that they can understand how to help others, and themselves.” While also establishing the importance of racial and LGBTQ+ inclusion, Butler Modaff also established the importance of individuality. She said, “We want them to know that they don’t have to stick to the status quo.”

Regarding the lasting effects of the capstone project, Butler Modaff said, “I think that what we are taking away from the class is that inclusivity is hard to teach, especially to little kids. As a smaller administration, we are learning that you have to go through the school district, the principal, and the teacher just to get one PowerPoint approved … [ to us] it shows that inclusivity shouldn’t have to be such a hoop to jump through, it should just be something we do.” Butler Modaff elaborated and said, “A topic that is so important, especially as the world is changing, shouldn’t be something that is a logistical hoop, it should just be something we naturally go with.”