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Special Message | PSJA ISD Mourns the Loss of Longtime School Board Member Jesus "Jesse" Vela Jr.

Special Message | PSJA ISD Mourns the Loss of Longtime School Board Member Jesus "Jesse" Vela Jr.

Special Message  
Dear PSJA ISD Family, 

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved longtime School Board Member, Jesus "Jesse" Vela Jr. 

Mr. Vela dedicated over 10 years to serving our district with unwavering commitment, passion, and heartfelt dedication to the success and well-being of our students, staff, and community. 

“Jesse was a true warrior and a champion for education. His integrity, his passion, and his intellect were inspirational to us all,” said School Board President Carlos Villegas Jr. “Our deepest condolences to the entire Vela family. Rest in peace, good friend.” 

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Vela’s leadership and vision left an indelible mark on PSJA ISD. He was not only a valued colleague but also a cherished friend to many. His contributions to PSJA ISD will continue to inspire us and shape the future of our schools for years to come. 

“On behalf of the PSJA ISD Family, our most sincere condolences to Mr. Vela’s family. We are saddened by the loss of our esteemed Board member who contributed to the success of students, staff, and community through his decisions, knowledge of education, and leadership. Mr. Vela will truly be missed by our PSJA ISD Family as he leaves a legacy of servitude,” said PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alejandro Elias. 

PSJA ISD extends our deepest condolences to Mr. Vela’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. Please join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers. In memory of Mr. Vela, PSJA ISD will continue to honor his legacy by upholding the values and dedication he demonstrated throughout his many years of service. 

 With heartfelt sympathy, 


About School Board Assistant Secretary Jesus “Jesse” Vela Jr. 

Jesus "Jesse" Vela Jr., a name synonymous with dedication, leadership, and unwavering commitment to education and community service, left an indelible mark on the Rio Grande Valley through his lifelong passion for empowering individuals and fostering a brighter future for generations to come. In recognition of his years of service and impact, PSJA ISD dedicated Jesus “Jesse” Vela Jr. Middle School in Alamo in his honor during the fall of 2023.

Proudly born and raised in Pharr, Texas, Mr. Vela's commitment to education was evident from an early age. He graduated from PSJA High School in 1966, laying the foundation for a remarkable educational journey. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Pan American College in 1970, followed by a Master of Education degree from Pan American University in 1973. His thirst for knowledge led him to pursue further studies at Baylor University, where he attained ABD (All But Dissertation) status in 1999.   

Residing in Alamo, Texas for over 50 years, Mr. Vela shared his life with his wife of 52 years, Idolina Gorena Vela, and together they have three sons—Ariel Jesus, Omar Joel, and Hiram Josue—as well as five grandchildren. Over a span of 39 years, he served as a source of inspiration in the field of education, taking on various roles such as teacher, coach, counselor, educational diagnostician, Migrant Program Director, and Federal Program Director at PSJA ISD. Through these diverse experiences, he gained a comprehensive understanding of the educational landscape, empowering him to effectively advocate for the needs of both students and educators  

Mr. Vela's impact extended far beyond the classroom. He dedicated over 10 years of his life to the PSJA ISD School Board, demonstrating exemplary leadership as President, Vice-President (three times), Secretary-Treasurer (four times), and most recently Assistant Secretary. Simultaneously, he served the community as an Alamo City Commissioner, earning the prestigious title of Mayor Pro-Tem during his tenure. His involvement in various community organizations, including the Pharr Lions Club, Alamo Economic Development Council, and the San Juan-Alamo Boys & Girls Club, showcased his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of those around him.  

Most recently Mr. Vela held the position of President at the PSJA Education Foundation, showcasing his unwavering commitment to promoting educational brilliance. Since 2013, the Foundation has successfully raised and distributed millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to students and staff within the PSJA ISD. His dedication led him to be selected as the School Board Delegate to the TASB State Convention twice and to serve thrice on the Region One TASB Legislative Advisory Council. Mr. Vela's influence also reached national levels as he contributed his expertise to advisory committees for the Education Commission of the States, the TEA Migrant Program, and the US Department of Education.  

 Mr. Vela's exceptional contributions earned him numerous accolades, including recognition by the Texas Education Agency with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his unparalleled contributions to Migrant Education. The US Department of Education also honored him for his tireless efforts in enhancing the educational experiences of At-Risk, Title I, and Migrant students. His inclusion in Who's Who among Community Leaders further underscores his influence and standing in the community.  

In every role he undertook, he exemplified unwavering dedication, unparalleled leadership, and a heart brimming with compassion. His legacy will continue to inspire generations, reminding us all of the transformative power of education and community service. 

In memory of Mr. Vela, PSJA ISD will continue to honor his legacy by upholding the values and dedication he demonstrated throughout his countless years of service.