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Thirteen PSJA ISD team members to receive Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

District makes strides on third year of Community Partnerships Grant from Texas Education Agency

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PHARR – As part of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s (PSJA ISD) efforts to empower leaders, 13 team members are candidates for Master of Education Degrees in Early Childhood Education from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and will be graduating on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. 

According to the PSJA Early Childhood Department Director Maricela Cortez, 12 of the team members were part of a cohort in partnership with UTRGV as part of a Community Partnerships (CP) Grant from the Texas Education Agency. PSJA ISD is in its third year of the grant that aims to support the creation of innovative school and community partnerships.  
“Congratulations to each of them for achieving this important educational milestone,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “We are proud to have helped them take on this journey as a district and know that our students tremendously benefit when our team has the right support and opportunities.” 
As participants of the CP grant, the graduates first started the 36-hour program during the fall 2019 semester. According to Dr. Hilda Medrano, UTRGV Professor and Coordinator of the Master of Education Degree Program in Early Childhood Education, the purpose of the grant and partnership is to improve the quality of Pre-K education to ensure kinder readiness. 

The College of Education at UTRGV is participating as the Early Childhood Education partner in the Community Partnerships Grant and Dr. Medrano coordinated the Master of Education Degree Program to provide graduate level professional development in the areas of early literacy, language development for DLL students, Pre-K guidelines, kinder readiness, play-based learning, developmentally appropriate practices, leadership, and advocacy among other topics relevant in the Early Childhood profession.
“Early childhood educators lay the foundation for future learning success,” said Dr. Medrano who also taught several courses during the program. “These teachers are now prepared and are knowledgeable in the areas of child development, early language, literacy development, learning theory, curriculum, assessment, and application of developmentally appropriate practices. Through leadership training, they are also prepared to provide professional development to other teachers.” 
PSJA ISD graduates include teachers from several campuses including: Amanda Garza-Peña Elementary, Berta Palacios Elementary, Daniel Ramirez Elementary, Santos Livas Elementary, Alfred Sorensen Elementary, and PSJA Early Start Pre-K School. 
For Sonia Champion, one of five graduates from Garza-Peña Elementary, receiving her Master’s Degree has been an enriching experience and inspired her to continue being an advocate for her students. 
“Thank you to my cohort, my classmates, and PSJA ISD for the opportunity for us to continue our education,” said the 2nd grade educator who is in her 13th year teaching at PSJA ISD. “Never say you can’t do it. Anything is possible.”
In addition to the 12 graduates participating in the PSJA ISD cohort, Araceli Trevino, a Caregiver at Buckner Early Head Start campus will also complete the program.

Congratulations to all graduates! 
Palacios Elementary in Pharr

  • Julie Robie, Pre-K 3 & 4 Teacher

Daniel Ramirez Elementary in Pharr

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  • Mary Carden, Clerk
  • Hilda Guerra, Pre-K 3 Teacher

Amanda Garza-Peña Elementary in San Juan

  • Sonia Champion, 2nd Grade teacher
  • Aida Garza, Pre-K Teacher
  • Danise Godoy, Pre-K Teacher
  • Melissa Garcia, Pre-K 3 Teacher
  • Angel Seawell, Kinder Teacher

Alfred Sorensen Elementary in San Juan

  • Jeannette Lopez, Pre-K 4 Teacher
  • Rosa Isela Gonzalez, Pre-K 4 Bilingual Teacher

Santos Livas Elementary in Alamo

  • Melissa Lopez, Pre-K Teacher

PSJA Early Start Pre-K School

  • Alexia Cervantes, Pre-K 3 Teacher
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