PSJA partnership teaches special needs students how to catch the bus

Pathways Toward Independence students at PSJA ISD learn how to use the metro system in order to become more independent. The training is the first of it kind, organizers said Monday. (Courtesy photo)

Special needs students at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District learned how to ride the metro system as part of a program designed to help them become more independent.

Seven high school seniors who will be graduating in May participated in the training as part of the Pathways Toward Independence (PTI) program at the school district, PSJA Spokeswoman Arianna Vazquez said via a statement Monday.

The students learned numerous skills, such as identifying bus schedules, routes, obtaining passes and tickets, listening for announcements, using landmarks to travel, and showing their identification to indicate where they need to go.

“PSJA ISD is the first school district to offer this training,” said Gloria Martinez, a vocational adjustment trainer for Olympia Placement Services. “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 training was made possible through a collaborative effort between the district, Texas Workforce Solutions and Olympia.

“We want to empower our students to be independent and self-sufficient,” said Crystal Reyna, a PSJA social worker with PTI.

Reyna traveled with the students as they made stops in Pharr, the McAllen Central Station and the Plaza Mall during the first of many trainings the district hopes to have.

“These seniors have had job training and are also earning certifications through South Texas College,” Reyna said. “So once they graduate, this will help them get to their jobs and maintain that employment.”

Through the continued partnership with STC, students are able to receive college certificates in employability skills, customer service, office skills, floral design, photography and cake decorating.

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.