Districts across the country are trying to figure out how to support the overwhelming mental health needs of students and staff. For many districts, the systems of support that were in place pre-pandemic have not been able to keep up with the demand of students as they have returned from distance learning. During this session we will be hearing from 2 school districts about how they have organized and augmented staffing to support the mental health and SEL needs of students.

Meet the Host

Meet the Speakers

Tom Horner

Tom Horner taught for 8 years in Lake City as a health and physical education instructor. He was recognized as the Minnesota Secondary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by MNSHAPE in 2018. Tom is licensed in physical education, health education, and adapted physical education. He has earned his M.Ed in teaching and learning and holds licensure for administrative leadership for grades K-12. Tom is currently employed with the Pine Island school district as the Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, which is a new role focusing on students, staff, and families. Tom enjoys his role as a husband, father, and triathlete. He has a passion for inspiring and empowering others to live a happy, healthy, and successful life.

Cait Earle, LICSW

Cait Earle, LICSW, MSW joined the Pine Island Schools team this fall in 2021 as their first school social worker. Prior to this role, she worked at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN as a psychotherapist in several settings, including intensive outpatient programming for adolescents with severe mental health and safety concerns, as well as working in the primary care setting doing outpatient therapy with children, teens, and adults in individual, couples, and family therapy. Her goal is to support students, staff, and families in their mental health and to also navigate and mobilize needed resources to ensure each individual has all that they need to function at their best.

Julia Bantimba, MS, OTR/L, ECMHS, RP II

Julia earned her MS in occupational therapy at Boston University’s Sargent College and has been practicing as a licensed occupational therapist since 2013. Currently, Julia works for Seneca Family of Agencies as the trauma informed and healing centered services specialist for their non-public school programs. In her current role Julia provides support to staff through modeling strategies with students, clinical consultation, trainings to the
multidisciplinary team of staff and consultation to administrative teams to ensure policies and procedures are culturally relevant, trauma informed and healing focused. Julia is a certified Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics trainer, faculty mentor and presenter and graduate of the UC Davis-Napa Infant Parent Mental Health Fellowship and is trained in multiple therapeutic models. In 2020, Julia was awarded the Bruce Perry Spirit of the Child Award for her outstanding work on behalf of young
children by the Parent-Infant Child Institute in Napa, CA. 

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