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Two PSJA ISD campuses recognized as National ESEA Distinguished Schools

Two PSJA ISD campuses recognized as National ESEA Distinguished Schools

The only two selected by the Texas Education Agency to represent the State at the National Level


PHARR – Two Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD schools, Cesar Chavez Elementary and Graciela Garcia Elementary in South Pharr (Las Milpas), were recognized as a “National Association of ESEA Distinguished Schools” for exceptional student achievement in 2020. The Texas Education Agency has the opportunity to select two campuses from Texas at the national level that have exemplified the highest level of achievement in terms of student performance and serving as Title I campus for the last three years.  Only two campuses in Texas were selected for recognition and both are from PSJA ISD. 


Congratulations to our campuses for this tremendous recognition and representing PSJA ISD at the state and national level. It is such an achievement and to have not one, but the two selections for the state coming from PSJA is a great honor,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “We commend both Principals, Roel Faz from Chavez and Sandra Garcia from Garcia Elementary, their entire faculty. What makes this so special is how great an honor this is to have one campus, but to have two campuses from PSJA represent Texas, speaks volumes of the dedication, hard work ethic, and potential of our students, teachers, staff, and families.” 


A project of NAESPA, the National ESEA Distinguished Schools program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. Only two schools per state can be selected as a National ESEA Distinguished School each year, this award is an especially prestigious honor for school leaders, campus staff and students.  


Each year, Texas schools are chosen by the Texas Education Agency based on outstanding performance in one of the following three categories: 

  • Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years 
  • Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years  
  • Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students (e.g., homeless, migrant, English learners, etc.)


Cesar Chavez Elementary was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award and Graciela Garcia Elementary was honored with the Distinguished Progress Award. The campuses are among only 100 schools throughout the country that are being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2020. 


“The award is a validation of the amazing dedication and perseverance that the teachers and staff do daily to serve the community that they call home,” said Chavez Elementary Principal Roel Faz.   


In addition to this recognition, Cesar Chavez Elementary was designated as a prestigious National Blue Ribbon School in 2018. 


For Sandra Garcia, Principal at Garcia Elementary, this recognition could not have come at a better time.  


“This is quite a humbling experience. I am very happy and excited for my staff and students! Despite everything we have been going through with COVID-19, this brings a ray of light,” said Principal Garcia. “This means a great deal to us because as a Dual Language and International Baccalaureate campus, our goal, together with our parents, has always been to educate the whole child by providing a meaningful and rigorous learning environment. This recognition could only be possible with the dedication and commitment to our students and families by our amazing staff!”