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PHARR – As a way to continue offering students Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) opportunities during distance learning, the PSJA Guidance and Counseling Department has organized a week-long series of virtual academies hosted on YouTube LIVE.
The PSJA Virtual Student Social-Emotional Learning Academies have been occurring daily from 5:00-5:30 pm since Monday, Sept. 14 and will end this Friday, Sept. 18 on the district’s YouTube page.
“Our counselors recognize the importance SEL has on our students’ well-being and are going above and beyond by hosting these daily academies,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “By hosting them LIVE on YouTube, it gives students an opportunity to ask their questions in real time and engage with our Counselors. We could not be prouder of the work our PSJA Counseling & Guidance Department does for our students on a daily basis.”
The week-long Academies are divided by daily sessions, which include topics such as Tuesday’s Back to School Routine Tips, which provided students with quick tips to help them transition from summer break to distance learning, and Wednesday’s Growth Mindset topic, which went into the powerful ways students could develop a positive mentality. On Thursday, Sept. 17, students can learn different strategies to manage stress and anxiety during the school year, and they end on Friday, Sept. 18, which will focus on teaching students about the importance of goal setting, and how to take realistic steps to achieve them.
“This pandemic has completely changed social norms,” said PSJA Director of Guidance and Counseling Virginia Saenz. “Students who are isolated during this unprecedented time need SEL skills now more than ever to help them navigate through stressors, anxieties and other challenges. We want our students to be able to solve problems and be able to work with others in the classroom or at home with their families and siblings.”
The district has been offering students and families coordinated support following the effects of COVID-19 since the PSJA ISD Board of Trustees passed a policy in early June that provided students and families social and emotional learning with wraparound services. The district-wide policy requires each campus to have a team that focuses on addressing the non-academic needs of students as a way to keep the district’s families at the center and focus on the whole-child. Services include mental health, community and social resources, as well as, recreational, cultural and spiritual resources, relationship skills, legal and safety tools, and crisis support.
“Our goal is to let the students know that they are not alone,” Saenz said. “We will get through this crisis and distance learning together by offering the tools and resources they need to help with their education and well-being.”
With the success and support of this week’s academies, the PSJA Guidance and Counseling Department is now looking at hosting the week-long sessions on a monthly basis to feature additional counselors and topics.
“Our PSJA Counselors are hoping our students become knowledgeable on SEL skills, such as managing their emotions and thoughts, showing empathy, setting goals and staying positive,” Saenz said. “More importantly, for them to learn how to apply the skills they learn if a situation were to arise to help them make good choices and decisions.”
Students and families can visit the district’s SEL E-Learning site for more information, learn about the services being offered, and contact information for their respective counselor.