PHARR - In an effort to instill important character values and leadership skills in students, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD will be implementing a new character building and leadership program during the 2019-2020 academic school year.  

Anti-Virus Youth Education is a non-profit 501(c)3 who develops character and leadership development courses for students in private and public education. Over a 10-week course, the Anti-Virus Youth curriculum focuses on the following seven specific character traits: ambition, responsibility, hard work, emotions, restraint, common sense, and generosity.

As a way to kick-off the new curriculum, PSJA ISD hosted a training during staff development for 7th-grade social studies teachers and middle school counselors on Aug. 14. According to the PSJA Counseling & Guidance Director Virginia Saenz, the training is the first of several that will occur districtwide this school year.  

“This is important because we want our students to have ethical values,” said Saenz. “Being punctual, responsible, and hardworking will help them be successful in their career.” 

The trainings and curriculum materials are funded by Balanceback CEO Marie Cosgrove. In addition to the character development curriculum, Cosgrove is sponsoring “Th Greater You” closed event for all PSJA ISD middle school students on Sept. 30. This event will feature International Speaker Nick Vujicic and will take place at PSJA Stadium-DHR Field. The closed event will be live-streamed to the entire school district and other districts throughout the state.  

“I chose PSJA ISD because I have seen the transformation that has happened in the district,” said Cosgrove who is originally from McAllen. “This is a great opportunity because PSJA cares about doing more for its students.” 

By training educators and embedding the character education program into the curriculum, PSJA ISD hopes to empower students to be aware of the impact of their choices, learn to set goals, combat bullying, be resilient, and develop a positive self-image. 

For Cynthia Parrao, social studies teacher at Liberty Middle School, the training was very impactful and she hopes the curriculum will have a positive impact on her students’ lives. 

“This is much needed. Our kids are inundated every day with decision making,” said Parrao. “Kids are our mirrors, we can relate to them on all levels. The ultimate test in life is the decisions that they make in the real world. We are giving them the tools to survive in real life.”