Breakout Session Offerings

We are excited to release our breakout session schedule! Our 18 sessions have been curated for Educators, School District Leaders, Counselors, Youth Serving Program Staff, & Community Leaders. Continuing Education credits are available for eligible professionals! Our skilled trainers have a broad range of experience, expertise, and certifications. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions.

Building Relationships To Unlock Student Potential


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What Makes You Smile? What Do Age and Gender Tell Us About the Most Useful Youth-Mentoring Activities

This talk could have been titled, School-based mentoring with Latinx youth: What activities and conversations to suggest for older and younger boys and girls, when, and why? We will consider findings from a longitudinal study of school-based mentoring at CIS San Antonio (the Study of Mentoring in the Learning Environment, or SMILE). From that study, we will discuss which mentoring activities and interactions best explained (or predicted) long and short-term outcomes. These are examined separately for older and younger boys and girls to help us better understand how age and gender may be factors to guide mentors in selecting the best mentoring approach.

Facilitator: Michael Karcher, PhD (UTSA)

Getting Relationships Right

Relationships are foundational to the positive cognitive, social, and emotional growth of our youth. Research illustrates that the more developmental relationships youth have, the more positive their academic and life outcomes are. But what are the elements of a developmental relationship? Join us to learn how each of us can contribute to the health and well-being of our children and youth by expressing care, challenging growth, expanding possibilities, sharing power, and providing support. Instructors for this course have been trained in Developmental Relationships Framework through the Search Institute.

Facilitator: Melanie Awty, LMSW (CIS-SA)

“Whole Child" Project Based Learning (PBL): Embracing and Infusing Student and SEL Centered Processes

Participants will learn and experience how to blend and infuse SEL into the planning and implementation processes of student centered project based learning. Participants will hear student and teacher reflections on project based learning experiences that have fostered SEL beliefs and behaviors that go beyond the classroom.Participants will receive tools to help guide their PBL planning and implementation processes.Participants will learn highlights from The Pulse of PBL: Cultivating Equity Through Social Emotional Learning by Mike Kaechele, Matinga Ragatz

Facilitator: Carol Harle, PhD (UTSA & Northside ISD)

Utilizing Mentoring To Build Relationships With Students

This session is designed to provide professionals in the field working with students who potentially could be part of a mentoring program or i need of building a positive relationship with a caring adult. The goal of this session is to enhance your skills, knowledge and mentoring tool box with creative strategies for success in developing positive minded students.

Facilitator: Gustavo Gonzales, BA

Promoting Positive Identity Development

This session will draw on developmental science, identity theory, and positive youth development to provide guidance on how teachers and youth practitioners can promote positive identity development - a key developmental milestone among adolescents that has been connected to various positive indicators of psychological adjustment. Towards this end, the presentation's objectives are to 1) Contextualize identity from a developmental lens, 2) Provide an understanding of classical and contemporary identity theories, and 3) Offer guidance on how Academic Advisors may best promote positive identity development.

Facilitator: Alan Meca, PhD (UTSA)

Promoting Healing and Mindfulness


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Creating Safe Schools: Educator Perspective on Restorative Practices in Schools

School should be a safe space for students - physically and emotionally. However, student behavior is an ever-increasing concern for educators, parents, and other students. Restorative Practices in Schools is one strategy to create healthy environments where students can learn and grow at their best capacity. This session presents educators' perspectives on Restorative Practices in Schools implementation, training design, and best practices.

Facilitator: Rachel Vargas, Ed.D (CIS-SA)

Trauma Informed Care

Ever wonder what Trauma Informed Care means? Join us for a review of the definition of trauma and learn what it means to be trauma-informed. Participants will also learn how trauma affects the brain and the importance of attachment. Participants will be introduced to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and gain tools to create a trauma-informed classroom or office. 

Facilitator: Shelly Bosse, LMSW, MA (CIS-SA)

What should school professionals know and do about children exposed to adult intimate partner violence?

Schools provide a gateway to help for children and families suffering from adult intimate partner violence (IPV).  This session will give a brief overview of dynamics in families with IPV, including how IPV affects children and caregivers and common misperceptions. It will highlight recent research, including information from a community survey of IPV in Bexar County. Strategies and resources for supporting children and caregivers will be discussed.

Facilitators: Amy Chanmugam, PhD, LCSW Lily Casura, MSW, and Richard Harris, PhD (UTSA)

Understanding ACEs

An Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) is any potentially traumatic event that can have a lasting, negative effect on a child or youth's health, behavior, and academic wellbeing. Participants of this interactive session will learn about how ACEs impact our individual and collective health and how youth development professionals and educators can leverage existing strategies to prevent future ACEs by connecting those affected by toxic stress to resources for healing.

Facilitator: Lauren Geraghty (CIS-SA)

Food & Mood- The Relationship Between Nutrition & Mental Health

The emerging field of Nutritional Psychology has demonstrated how food can directly impact our mood. We will spend some time examining how our daily lifestyle choices affect our mental health. The session will provide research-based evidence, interactive examples, and practical strategies to incorporate mindful eating into our everyday lives.

Facilitators: Angelica Bush, M.A, LPC-S, CIMHP and Maritza  Garcia-Pulido, MS, LPC (CIS-SA)

Trauma Informed Sports and Coaching

This session discusses trauma-informed frameworks' relevance to the sports environment and how sports can be used as an intervention. It will also discuss the vital role of coaches in work and what trauma-informed coaching looks like.

Facilitator: Kemba Noel-London, PhD,MAT,ATC,CES 

Shifting Systems To Promote Equity


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No Child Left Behind: Ensuring Health Care Access and Equity for All Children

This session will introduce the current trends in health care access and equity amongst children/adolescents. Unique aspects of this patient population and how they utilize health care will be discussed to determine how to best approach their care and development. Successful health care models that promote equity will be presented along with avenues to improve our care here in San Antonio. Finally, personal strategies/aids that attendees can incorporate into their education/private practices to promote equity and enhanced care for children will be presented.

Facilitator: Joshua Knebel, PharmD (University of the Incarnate Word)

A Call to Action-Growing San Antonio's Young Talent: Promoting Equity and Inclusion in Pre-College Readiness Services for Underrepresented Minorities at UTSA

This session will discuss the pre-college student success initiatives to increase college readiness and access for underrepresented students ( BIPOC, first-generation, Pell-eligible, and students with lived experience in foster care). The presenters will discuss collaborative efforts that promote TRiO and BCFES pre-college readiness support programming and services (CLIMB, Educational Talent Search, and Upward Bound) to encourage a streamlined pipeline and collaboration within the Student Success Division at UTSA. The audience will engage in an interactive presentation, engaging discussion, and learning about innovative practices that provide equitable opportunities for upward educational trajectories for underserved populations in Bexar and its contiguous counties.

Facilitators: Arika Burford, LLMSW and John Bonner, MA (UTSA)


School-Community Collaboration to Address Mental Health Needs: Pitfalls and Recommendations

Collaboration between schools and non-school-based community providers has been identified as the best practice in comprehensive mental health service delivery and as a means to address the limitations of school-based mental health services. In this presentation, learn about common pitfalls in the collaboration process and strategies to overcome them to establish and support ongoing partnerships and provide valuable and complementary mental health services to children and adolescents in need.

Facilitator: Victor Villarreal, UTSA Associate Professor LP, LSSP, NCSP (UTSA)

Teacher Identity as Pedagogy

Identities are powerful constructs that help shape how we define ourselves and those around us. When students see themselves in a lesson, they can connect and invest in what they are learning.  Through identity, teachers can help educate compassionate and open-minded individuals who strive to understand and embrace diversity.  In this session, participants will explore how teachers can use identities as pedagogical tools to encourage students to grow, learn, and discover new ways of thinking and being.

Facilitator: Austin Bonecutter-Knight, MA (UTSA)

Reimagining Mental Health Services

SAISD has spent the last year inspecting the many layers of mental health and social services the district has available to support students and families. The goal was to adjust our practices to ensure that students receive the mental health and social service assistance they need in order to be successful in school. This required us to align our practices so that mental health staff are working at the top of their licenses. Part of this work was co-created with Communities in Schools, to ensure that all services operated in harmony.

Facilitator: Beth Jones, MA, LSSP (SAISD)

Caring for the Caregiver


Play Blast off; A launch into children’s mental health and understanding family dynamics

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …Play Blast off! Embark on an exploration of children’s mental health and the importance of purposed play in helping build resiliency for children of families of various dynamics. A play-based presentation that includes an overview of children's and adolescents' common mental health diagnoses, with a deeper understanding of this unique population's social, emotional, and behavioral needs. 

Join us for a journey into the following objectives. 
A.    Fuel Up; the common mental health needs of children and adolescents
B.    Planet Play; A deeper understanding of the needs for purposed play.
C.    To the moon and back: A quick adventure into exploring family dynamics, environmental and social factors.

Faciltators: Veronica Sandoval, MS, LPC-S, RPT and Sabrina Donatto, MS, LCSW-S (CIS-SA)

Examining Mindsets: Redemption of Pain Towards Our Growth Journey

We will highlight theoretical constructs of our experience of pain and offer the consideration of mindsets to process our experiences in a redeeming way towards the journey of personal growth. Examples will be discussed of how painful experiences in life may have us open the door to patterns and cycles that may hinder our growth.  We will then consider the options of reframing painful experiences as an opportunity in the movement towards acceptance, control, strength, and generosity.

Facilitator: Roxanna Perez, LPC (CIS-SA)