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PSJA ISD continues partnership with South Texas College to offer opportunities for students with disabilities

Photo - Floral Design Class at PTI

PHARR – Committed to continue providing life-changing opportunities for all students, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) School Board of Trustees signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Texas College (STC) to further solidify the district’s current partnership. 

The PSJA Pathways Toward Independence Program (PSJA PTI) promotes the continued development of vocational training skills and/or functional independent living skills to assist special needs students ages 14 to 21 in becoming emergent adults in the community. Through opportunities in the program, students with disabilities gain access to post-secondary education opportunities earning college certificates in various trades like Cake Decorating, Floral Design, Landscaping Design, and Employability Skills from South Texas College. 

The PSJA School Board approved the Memorandum of Understanding to continue this work with longtime partner South Texas College during the meeting of Nov. 15.

As part of this partnership, instructors from South Texas College train PSJA ISD teachers to prepare them to develop specialized training in these courses to support student instruction. Costs for the courses and certifications are covered by PSJA ISD.   

"Through these opportunities, our students have an added edge to gain employment," said PSJA PTI/LIFE House Program Director Veronica Quintana. “Our program gives them the chance to experience college opportunities. This makes our families feel proud when they graduate from South Texas College with their certificates. 

Currently, there are nearly 50 students participating in the program and 12 of them are pursuing college certificates. Several program graduates have received job offers and are currently employed with local businesses such as the Bert Ogden Arena, Regency Events Center, and Cory's Cakes. 

For Cindy LiVigni, mother of a recent PSJA PTI/LIFE House graduate Tommy LiVignishe is grateful for the preparation and employability skills her son gained as they helped him get employment at the Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg.   

“PTI gives students the strength and support they need to succeed,” said LiVigni. “They want the kids to be successful and be included in the community. Our kids can do anything if given the chance.” 

Since the PSJA PTI/LIFE House started, students have been able to take their skills and certifications to local employers as those mentioned and other businesses such as: At Home, Best Buy, Dairy Queen, Goodwill, Pro Image Sports, NAFT Federal Credit Union, Peter Piper Pizza, Pharr Memorial Library, Vany's Flower Shop, Philly 77, and Quinta Mazatlan, to name a few. 

"Thank you to our team, businesses who believe and support our students, and our higher education partner South Texas College for helping us make this program possible,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo.

Photo - Cake Decorating Class 1

Photo - Tommy Livigni_Special Olympics Powerlifting Champ

Photo - Tommy LiVigni

Photo - Tommy LiVigni

Photo - Floral Decoration Class