by Kristin Casale

Reporter

Stow -- The Stow-Munroe Falls Developmental Pre-school needs children with "excellent social skills and excellent language skills" to serve as peer models for other students.

Peer models are non-disabled children between the ages of 3 and 5 who receive instruction in the integrated preschool housed at Indian Trail Elementary, according to Stow-Munroe Falls School District Special Education Supervisor MaryKay Zgrabik-Misterka.

Students who need help with their cognitive, language, social, emotional and motor skills attend the school, along with the peer models, she said.

"Our goal is just to have everybody ready for kindergarten," said Zgrabik-Misterka of the preschool

She said the peer models help with that goal.

"A peer model takes on a positive role within the classroom and acts as a role model for children with disabilities," said Zgrabik-Misterka. "While benefiting from the preschool experience, these children provide peer interaction and social motivation for the preschoolers with disabilities. Children learn from adults, but also from watching and interacting with other children. Peer models are a crucial part of our preschool program."

A peer model screening is scheduled for March 16 from 8:15 a.m. to noon at Indian Trail, but parents are welcome to register their children for the session now, she said. Indian Trail is located at 3512 Kent Road.

The program requires four "typically developing children" to serve as peer models in each of the school's six classrooms, said Zgrabik-Misterka, stating she seeks to fill 11 peer model spots that will become available at the end of the school year.

The school currently has 72 students divided among six classrooms, she added, stating four peer models are placed in each classroom. Students attend classes during morning sessions and afternoon sessions Monday through Thursday.

Zgrabik-Misterka said the screenings benefit the school and the parents of the applicants.

"After the screening, parents are really grateful, because they get a good picture of how their kids are developing," she said.

Zgrabik-Misterka described the screenings as "a big play group," saying children participate in activities that allow them to express their developmental skills.

The cost for peer models to attend the preschool is $100 per month, except in June, when the price is reduced because students attend classes for fewer days.

Parents must provide transportation for their children.

Those interested in participating in the program are directed to call the district's special services department at 330-689-5430.

Registration applications are available online at www.smfcsd.org/preschool.htm or by calling the special services department.

There is no deadline to apply.

E-mail: kcasale@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3917