Darla Eimers leans against a brick wall, wearing blue sweater and blue scarf

For internship project, Traverse City student creates inclusive week at elementary school

Grand Valley student Darla Eimers is the office manager at the Old Mission Peninsula School, a kindergarten-fifth grade school in Traverse City.

Eimers can now add "diversity and inclusion coordinator" to her title after planning a week's worth of activities for students focused on global cultures, differences and a sense of belonging.

She is enrolled in the LEADS program, an accelerated degree completion program for adult learners, and will earn a bachelor's degree in integrative studies, with an emphasis on cultural diversity and globalization, in April.

group of elementary students and one teacher, all wearing masks, standing around a small table in the hallway
Second graders at Old Mission Peninsula School nominate friends who have done kind and inclusive things during a special week of events planned by Darla Eimers, a student in the LEADS program.
Image credit - courtesy photo

This project will fulfill an internship requirement. But more than checking a box for degree progress, Eimers said she planned Diversity and Inclusion Week to expose the elementary students to cultures other than their own and "bring them outside their comfort zone a bit." Old Mission Peninsula School is a charter school authorized by Grand Valley.

"I would like our students to learn about populations other than their own and understand that being kind and inclusive is free, and it's so easy to do," Eimers said.

Activities and events included a pen-pal program with an area nursing home; presentations by Disability Network, Native American and Latino groups; and global foods in the lunchroom. Eimers said feedback from parents and students was very positive and plans are underway to host a month's worth of diversity and inclusion activities next year.

Eimers earned an associate degree in applied science from Northwestern Michigan College. The LEADS program, she said, fits her schedule and the online, six-week classes move her toward a degree faster. 

"This program seems like it was made for me. I took what I learned from my classes and applied it to pull together this project," she said. "I want to get my bachelor's degree for my son, so he will understand the importance of learning."


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