Yelm district debuts new peer-model developmental preschool program


Yelm Community Schools has added peer models into its developmental preschool program for the 2023-24 school year.

The district aims to educate children ages 3 to 5 years old with and without disabilities in an inclusive preschool setting. Peer models will help to set positive examples for their classmates by showing good social and classroom behaviors.

The developmental preschool program is taking place at Mill Pond, Fort Stevens, Prairie and McKenna elementary schools. McKenna Elementary is debuting the program in the 2023-24 school year.

To be eligible for peer modeling, a student must have transportation to and from the program from a parent. No busing services are available. Students must reside within YCS boundaries, and they must have all required vaccinations to enter school.

Students who currently have an individualized educational plan (IEP) would not qualify as a peer model. If a student does not qualify due to IEP services, however, they may still be contacted by the Office of Student Support regarding other options.

According to YCS psychologist Michelle Fossum, research continues to reveal benefits for students with and without disabilities educated in an inclusive preschool environment, such as in the district’s developmental program.

Peer models learn that all students have strengths and challenges in a classroom of children with varying abilities, and they develop a sense of belonging and understanding that all children can teach and learn.

“Yelm Community Schools strives to expand preschool opportunities for students within the Yelm community,” Fossum said.

“Early childhood education research continues to reveal positive results with regard to academic success and overall life outcomes for students who attend preschool, including improved cognitive, language, literacy and social-emotional outcomes, as well as enhanced academic motivation and school attainment and observed reductions in problem behaviors.”

Applications for peer modeling are still being accepted and can be found on the Yelm Community Schools website at

Once completed, applications can be returned to the Office of Student Support, PO Box 476, Yelm, WA 98597, or dropped off at the district office, 107 First St. N in Yelm.