• ST. LOUIS, MO, March 28, 2011 –The American School Board Journal (ASBJ) has awarded the St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board the 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.


    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.


    Currently, the International Welcome School serves approximately 230 students, speaking approximately 17 languages from more than 24 countries.


    “St. Louis Public Schools is honored to be recognized for its work with international students and their families.  The District is committed to providing a quality education for all of its students and this school is one of the ways we provide additional support to students so they can achieve future success in their new home,” said Melanie Adams, Vice President of the Special Administrative Board.


    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 are highlighted in a special supplement to the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 9, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 71st Annual Conference.


    In addition to the ASBJ supplement, the district"s winning entry will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program"s searchable best practices database. Both can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.


    For more information, please contact the Office of Public Information (314) 345-2367.