PHARR - In an effort to prepare students for life after graduation, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA) in partnership with Texas Workforce Solutions and Olympia Placement Services recently trained a group of special needs students in the Pathways Toward Independence (PTI) Program on how to navigate the metro system. PSJA ISD is the first school district in the Rio Grande Valley to provide this type of vocational adjustment training for students.

The PSJA PTI program promotes the continued development of vocational training skills and/or functional independent living skills to assist special needs students in becoming emergent adults in the community. Through the continued partnership with South Texas College, students are able to receive college certificates in Employability Skills, Customer Service, Office Skills, Floral Design, Photography and Cake Decorating.

According to Crystal Reyna,the PSJA PTI Social Worker, the metro system training allowed seven seniors to learn numerous invaluable skills such as identifying bus schedules, routes, obtaining passes and tickets, listening for announcements, using landmarks to travel, and showing their ID’s to indicate where they need to go. The seniors, who will be graduating this May 2019, already have employment opportunities lined up and will be needing to use public transportation in the near future to be self-sufficient.

“We want to empower our students to be independent and self-sufficient,” said Reyna who traveled with the students during the training. “These seniors have had job training and are also earning certifications through South Texas College. So once they graduate, this will help them get to their jobs and maintain that employment.”

According to Gloria Martinez, Olympia Placement Services Vocational Adjustment Trainer, these tools and training opportunities are invaluable to assist students.

“PSJA ISD is the first school district to offer this training,” said Martinez. “This is amazing and I think it is something that should have been done a long time ago. Now that they are doing it, I am hoping it is something other school districts will be on board with.”

The metro system training included classroom instruction and stops in Pharr, the McAllen Central Station, and the Plaza Mall. It was the first of many future trainings the district hopes to have.

Anyone interested in learning more about the opportunities available through the PSJA PTI Program can call (956) 784-8524 or visit www.psjaisd.us/pathways.