Nurturing Academic Brilliance 


In the heart of educational innovation, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD) is shaping the future by laying a robust educational foundation for its students through comprehensive early childhood education initiatives. PSJA ISD leaders have designed programs that commence at the elementary level and extend beyond post-secondary education to pave the way for academic success.

Understanding the pivotal role of early childhood in shaping lifelong learning, PSJA ISD strongly emphasizes developing foundational skills as early as Pre-K 3. The research underscores the significance of preschool years in acquiring essential knowledge. PSJA ISD is capitalizing on this critical period to maximize learning outcomes by utilizing the latest data; the district has crafted initiatives to benefit all students, firmly standing behind the notion that high-quality early childhood education should provide a solid foundation for lifelong learning.

Claudia Gonzalez, Executive Officer for Elementary at PSJA ISD, shared that the district’s commitment to uniform instruction includes a comprehensive phonemic awareness and phonics program strategically implemented across all elementary campuses. This consistency ensures that students seamlessly transition between schools, picking up right where they left off due to standardized instruction and curriculum alignment.

The PSJA Sonia M. Sotomayor Building Blocks Academy in Pharr is a groundbreaking addition to the district’s first early childhood campus exclusively dedicated to Pre-K 3 through kindergarten. This state-of-the-art facility features an Outdoor Learning Classroom aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The academy promotes play-based learning through a unique solar-powered tree house and a community garden, fostering an environment where students can build their educational foundation with a true connection to the world around them.

In addition to the Sotomayor Building Blocks Academy, all PSJA ISD elementary schools offer full-day Pre-K 3 & 4, providing more options for parents to conveniently choose a school near them. PSJA ISD collaborates with over 40 childcare centers to provide instruction and guidance from PSJA Certified Teaching Staff, ensuring students are ready for kindergarten. This collaboration makes PSJA ISD the only district in the state with such extensive partnerships. By aligning external curricula with the district’s standards, PSJA ISD ensures a seamless transition for students transferring into their schools, eliminating obstacles to continued learning.

Partnering with organizations like the United Migrant Opportunity Services and Hidalgo County Head Start Program, PSJA ISD extends its commitment to preparing students for success within the district. The collaboration with community entities ensures a horizontal alignment of learning, allowing all students to progress at the same level.

Gonzalez emphasizes the district’s commitment to modern, play-based instruction: “Our curriculum incorporates 21st-century learning and play-based instruction. We want the students to come to school and enjoy it but also learn the skills they need to set their foundation.”

Superintendent Dr. Alejandro Elias underlines the district’s unwavering commitment to providing a solid early childhood foundation, recognizing its pivotal role in students’ overall success. “We firmly believe that a strong academic foundation with an aligned curriculum plays a significant role in the overall success of our students,” affirms Dr. Elias. Our goal is to set them up for success as they transition to our middle schools and high schools and continue pursuing a post-secondary education.”

Dr. Elias states the district plans to continue investing in early childhood education. Plans for a second PSJA Building Blocks Academy opening in Alamo, Texas, for the 2024-2025 school year are currently underway.

As an open-enrollment school district welcoming over 30,000 students from the Rio Grande Valley, PSJA ISD is committed to providing a nurturing environment that prepares students for success at every stage of their academic journey.

Parents interested in enrolling their children can find more information at


Cynthia Ybarra