Opened in 2009, the International Welcome School (IWS) creates a safe and nurturing school environment for immigrant students with limited English and low formal education, many war refugees, and some struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
IWS students receive accelerated English training, an introduction to the US culture and school system, and exposure to educational expectations and opportunities. English Language Learner (ELL) teachers, Counselors, Social Workers and program Instructional Coordinators assist and monitor students’ in the following areas: listening, speaking, reading, writing, math, science and social studies, and degree of self confidence and ability to adjust, before transitioning students into a regular classroom environment.
Enrollment Data as of December 15, 2011:
The International Welcome School currently serves approximately 133 students, speaking approximately 19 languages from more than 23 countries.
· The International Welcome School does have an “in-house” translation/parent outreach team (Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese, French, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese)
· Community Partners support the school by providing uniforms, shoes, and a food pantry.
· A Newcomer/New Americans Family Literacy Center that offers English lessons, computer access/programs, GED classes, and other support services for parents. Young children also benefit from the preschool program.
· School / community clinic – twice a week, a nurse from the Institute for Family Medicine opens for the immigrant community. The school welcomes the dental van and an immunization clinic on a regular basis
The American School Board Journal (ASBJ) has awarded the Special Administrative Board the 2011 MAGNA Award for establishing the International Welcome School to help immigrant students develop English language skills, get acclimated to U.S. schools, and develop an awareness of the expectations and opportunities in the District.
ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from more than 350 submissions from 40 states. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.
The 2011 winners were highlighted in a special supplement to the April issue of ASBJ and formally recognized at the “Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon,” which was part of NSBA’s 71st Annual Conference.