WCPS International Welcome Center

Pangborn Elementary School, 195 Pangborn Bvd, Hagerstown

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Services Provided

  1. Pre-enrollment support to families new to WCPS
  2. EL eligibility testing and screening of student language strengths and needs
  3. Initial EL Lau Plan development
  4. School and community resource connections
  5. Translation and interpretation services
  6. Liaison between families, schools, community agencies, staff and WCPS departments

Staff, Contact Information, & Location

EL Teacher and Family Liaison-Sonia Vanegas

Multilingual Community Paraprofessional-Carmen (Xenia) Diaz

IWC Administrative Assistant-Virgen García

Languages spoken: English, Spanish, and French

Countries represented: Dominican Republic, El Salvador & USA

Contact information:




International Welcome Center (IWC)

Pangborn Elementary School

195 Pangborn Blvd, Hagerstown, MD 21740

When to refer families to the International Welcome Center

  1. If the family needs language support
  2. If families state on the enrollment form that a language other than English is spoken on two or more questions
  3. If a student is enrolling from a non-English speaking country
  4. If a student transfers from a Maryland county or another state with ESL, ESOL, EL, LEP or ELL in their record
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What should I do if I'm a PPW or registrar?

1. Families can arrive directly to the IWC or be referred to the IWC by a school.
2. If the family arrives at school, the registrar/PPW will ask the family to complete a quick home language survey. This is included in the hard copy folder that schools received from the IWC.

3. Check to see if the family meets the above requirements from "When to refer families to the International Welcome Center."
4. If the family meets any of the criteria, refer the family to the International Welcome Center.
5. The school will call the IWC at 68288 to make an appointment, ideally in the same day.
The family may talk on the phone with the EL Community Liaison for further support and instructions.
6. The school provides an appointment card, family packet from IWC, and map/directions in multiple languages to the International Welcome Center.

The family is finished at the IWC. Now what do I do as a registrar or PPW?

  1. EL Community Liaison will call the registrar with a brief summary and make an appointment for the family to return to the school as needed to complete the enrollment.
  2. EL Community Liaison will follow up with an email to include the registrar and EL Teacher to confirm number 1 above.
  3. Registrar and PPW will check the IWC secure Google folder for documents scanned for the family and verify that all documents needed are included. If needed, contact the EL Community Liaison so she can follow up and inform families.
  4. EL Community Liaison will give each family a folder with hard copies of all documents completed at the IWC.
  5. EL Community Liaison will translate transcripts with courses for schools. The EL Community Liaison will not make grade placements, credit reviews or vaccination recommendations.
  6. EL Community Liaison may also give guidance on the naming conventions for entry into Synergy.

What does the EL teacher need to do?

  1. EL Community Liaison will include EL teacher in initial contact email with the registrar to inform the school of a potential new student.
  2. EL Teacher will request a copy of the preliminary EL Lau Plan from the EL Community Liaison by submitting this form. This confirms that the EL student has enrolled at the school.
  3. EL student's Lau plan will be sent to the EL teacher via interoffice mail (the Pony).
  4. EL Teacher will sign sheet sent with the EL Lau Plan to confirm receipt and return to the IWC via the pony.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I send families to the International Welcome Center?

  1. EL Teachers can focus on instruction because they will not have to test new students, change schedules, or do initial required EL Lau Plans with federally mandated paperwork, which takes up to 2-3 hours.
  2. The IWC will bridge language and cultural barriers for families and schools.
  3. Families and students will receive more personalized support with a cultural and linguistic specialist to improve customer service.
  4. Registrars and PPWs will receive extra support which should expedite the enrollment process, reduce errors, and minimize other current challenges.
  5. Families will have access to school and community resources and specialized programming to understand American school systems and American culture. The IWC strives to empower families to advocate for their students’ success.

Will the EL Community Liaison come to my school?

No. The EL Community Liaison will be housed at Pangborn at the International Welcome Center to support families. All families are welcome to meet with the Liaison and schools are welcome to call or email for support or questions.

Will the EL Community Liaison make vaccination recommendations and/or analyze transcripts/records to assign credits or make grade placement recommendations?

No. The IWC will translate records only and provide info on international school policies/calendars so schools and Student Services can make decisions as they do for all students.

What if I need to have an interpreter at a parent conference?

WCPS staff can click here to request an interpreter or email ELinterpretations@wcps.k12.md.us for more information. There is a 24-hour notice for requests or cancellations.

The EL department has an interpretation device system that can be used for large meetings. One interpreter speaks into a transmitter, and up to 25 people can hear the interpretation through headphone receivers.

One device system is housed at the IWC at Pangborn through a library check out system. WCPS staff can email the IWC to reserve one at ELinterpretations@wcps.k12.md.us

What if I need to call a family?

Language Line is available to all WCPS employees 24/7. Each school has its own code, which you can get from your EL teacher or school. Codes are for WCPS use only; please do NOT share with families. Directions for using Language Line are here.

Will the International Welcome Center take away my job as a registrar to enroll?

No. Pre-enrollment language and individualized support are provided only. The enrollment process at the school will remain the same. All decisions are made by schools and Student Services. The IWC is additional support to schools and families to assist with home-school communication, EL eligibility, and the enrollment process at the school.

If I have someone who speaks the language on staff, can't I just do the enrollment here?

No. The IWC completes EL eligibility services, researches previous schooling and EL student experiences, and creates EL Lau plans. If enrollment occurs at the school, the EL teacher will lose instruction time with all students to tend to complete EL mandates--about 2-3 hours of work. In addition, the IWC supports families in person so families have a more personalized understanding of how their student's linguistic and academic needs will be met in school. Parent services and community resources will be shared with all families to improve their overall experiences with a new culture, in a new community, in a new school and/or with a new language.

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WCPS International Welcome Center

Contact Sonia Vanegas at the Intenational Welcome Center or learn more. All are welcome!