Managing Back-to-School Anxiety

While back-to-school time is usually an exciting and busy time, students, parents, and teachers face new worries as the disruptions and uncertainties caused by COVID-19 continue. Worried parents can inadvertently make children and teens feel more anxious too. Join Meagan Butler and Wanda Montemayor, two former AISD Counselors of the year, for this interactive session incorporating neuroscience-based regulation skills and brain aligned strategies. They will share techniques for parents on how to manage their back-to-school anxiety, help children cope with changes to routine, and address their children's fears about going back to school.


Meagan Butler, M.Ed, LPC

Secondary Counseling Coordinator, Austin ISD

Meagan is a Licensed Professional Counselor with specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the Neurosequential Model of Education, and Trust Based Relational Intervention®. She has presented at national and state-wide conferences and was named Austin ISD’s District-wide Counselor of the Year in 2015. As a Secondary Counseling Coordinator in Austin ISD, Meagan Butler supports professional school counselors with program development, professional learning, crisis training, and critical incident response.

Wanda Montemayor, LPC/S/AT, ATR/BC, ATCS

Wanda Montemayor is an LPCS and board-certified Art Therapist and has been a public-school counselor for 14 years.  She was awarded the Austin Independent School District Counselor of the Year in 2019, selected from a group of almost 300. In addition to her duties as a wellness counselor at O Henry middle school, she runs a private practice treating individuals and groups. While she does employ traditional talk therapy, she also integrates a myriad of tools into her therapies, including Art Therapy, EMDR, animal-assisted therapy, sand tray therapy, and play therapy. Her approach offers a process that particularly focuses on reaching at risk students and clients. 

In 2018, Wanda and her therapy dog, Chango, graduated from Texas State University’s first ever class in their Animal Assisted Counseling Academy. She and Chango have been providing animal-assisted play therapy to students and clients, with an emphasis on life skills students, and she has found this form of therapy to be the most effective intervention with many high-risk students and clients.

With a focus on hand-made ceramics, Wanda is also an “epic artist”, and has lengthy experience in creating large-scale creative and lasting public art projects that inspire her.  A longtime south Austin resident, she has been creating public art in Austin for more than 20 years. She has been the art director on four city-funded ceramic mixed-media projects, ranging in size from 1200 square feet to 30 square feet: the mural at Deep Eddy, the Phoenix mural in Oak Hill, the We Are Barton Hills mural at Barton Hills Elementary, and the Nuestro Arte mural at the Town Lake YMCA. She includes her students and clients, as well as other local communities in creating of works of art.  Whether hosting self-expression clubs for students at school, or engaging groups and non-profits in and around Austin to conduct art-making events, the hand-made ceramic tiles that comprise each work of art bring personal stories and ties to each hand that creates them.  This creates a bond to these works of art, a desire to return to it, and to pass on these stories.  The public is drawn in to both the macro vision of the artwork, as well as the individual elements and messages.

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