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‘My students keep me young and motivated’ 

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Longtime PSJA ISD early childhood educator inspires generations

Texas Border Business

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Pharr, Texas – Surrounded by smiles and curious children eager to learn, Palacios Elementary Pre-Kinder Teacher Yolanda Quiroz credits her students for keeping her young at heart. Teaching in the district for over four decades, the longtime educator continues to be an inspiration for both students and teachers.

“I teach because I love children,” shared Quiroz who is starting her 42nd year as a PSJA teacher. “I love to see them grown and always hope they become inspired to be anything they dream to be.”

Raised in a single-parent household, Quiroz shared that it was her hardworking mother who first inspired her to pursue a post-secondary education.

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“My dream was to be a teacher, but I was poor,” said Quiroz who graduated from McAllen High School in 1963. “I didn’t even have a car, so I had to take the bus to college.”

Despite the many challenges she faced, Quiroz earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Pan American College (now known as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). In 1968, she earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Supervision Certification in 1978.

She began her education career teaching Kinder at Henry Ford Elementary in 1968 and later taught at Napper Elementary and Palmer Elementary. One of her first students vividly recalls the impact Mrs. Quiroz had on her career.

“She was my very first teacher,” said Palacios Elementary Assistant Principal Sandra Garza who was one of her kinder students in 1970. “Mrs. Quiroz loves what she does. It’s great to see her continue having the same passion for teaching as she did when I was her student.”

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Besides educating 3 and 4-year-olds, Quiroz shared that she has also served in various roles within the district, like helping start the district’s bilingual program now known as the Dual Language Enrichment Program and the pre-kinder program.

According to the 73-year-old educator, remembering the difficulties she faced during her educational journey makes her appreciate the many opportunities students now have access to in the district.

“I wish we’d had the PSJA Early College Program when I was going to school,” Quiroz shared. “It’s amazing that students can get two years of college out of the way in high school. PSJA is truly preparing our students for tomorrow. I am super excited about the PSJA Collegiate Academies!”

This fall, PSJA ISD will be opening its new PSJA College & University Center. With more students and parents interested in obtaining college hours, the center will house the PSJA Collegiate Academies and PSJA Collegiate High School Program. The revolutionary facility will allow more students to pursue a higher education through district partners South Texas College and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to name a few.

Aware of the many opportunities now available for high school students, Quiroz emphasized the role of elementary educators, as they are responsible for setting the foundation for student success.

“As pre-kinder teachers, it’s important that we get our students ready for kinder by teaching them their letters and sounds,” Quiroz said. “If all of us work together as a team, our students will succeed in elementary and beyond.”

Garza feels she is living proof of the importance of providing students with such a strong foundation.

“Mrs. Quiroz prepared me for success and to continue my education,” said the Assistant Principal who graduated from PSJA High School in 1983. “Early childhood teachers are so important as they inspire lifelong learners.”

Quiroz shared she still has much more to give and there is nowhere else she’d rather be.

“PSJA ISD has helped me grow as a teacher with all the opportunities I have been given,” said Quiroz. “PSJA means opportunities for all students, opportunities for all teachers, opportunities for all administrators. To me, this is and will always be the best school district in the Valley.”

Inspired by her teacher, Garza also looks forward to dedicating her career to serving her community.

“I’ve stayed at PSJA ISD because we’re a family. Our shirts couldn’t ring truer,” said the proud alumna. “I wouldn’t even consider working anywhere else. This is my district, my home, my family.”

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