The Needs and Joys of our (Im)migrant* Students, Families and Community Partners Session 3: School Mental Health Strategies to Support Newcomers: CBITS and Community Building Circles

Original broadcast date: June 21, 2021


This session is the third in a three-part series focused on (im)migrant student mental health.


Please note that while this program has a special focus on students who identify as Latino/a/x,  Chican@, and Mexican-American, all are welcome and much can be related to other student identities with shared experiences. 


Session 3: School Mental Health Strategies to Support Newcomers: CBITS and Community Building Circles 

The plight of newcomers (students who have recently arrived to the United States) continues to be an issue that impacts their educational journey and is even more exacerbated during the pandemic. Students' experiences vary, but they may include feelings of isolation, integration, and adapting to new cultural norms.  This session will highlight a student’s experience and what school systems can offer to support students in traditional and distance learning settings. 

The session examines shared risk and protective factors for vulnerable populations and outlines school programs like CBITS and restorative justice Community Building Circles, highlighting cultural adaptations of both models. 


To deepen our awareness about (im)migrant student experiences, we: 

  1. Build understanding of: the impact of mental health on newcomer students and its relation to their learning, adapting to the American school system, and resources to support their growth.

  2. Explore myths and misconceptions about newcomer students and build empathetic partnerships for their academic and social emotional growth.

  3. Examine the risk factors and increase support systems to enhance protective factors such as CBITS and restorative justice Community Building Circles.


Priming Resources


Session 3 Resources


View Session 1 and Session 2 of this series.



Our Learning Series and Community of Practice Faculty

Woman with long dark hair wearing a light blue topAngela Castellanos, PPSC, LCSW 

Angela J. Castellanos serves as a School Mental Health Training Specialist for the Pacific Southwest MHTTC. Angela Castellanos, LCSW, is an experienced mental health consultant and administrator with 25+ years of diverse and progressive expertise in the mental health care industry and school settings. As a licensed clinical social worker, she specializes in administering school mental health programs; mentoring industry professionals (local, state, and federal); and developing and teaching best practices in the area of Trauma, Suicide Prevention, Crisis Response and Recovery, and School Mental Health. As a direct practitioner, Angela has developed programs and services for newcomers in a school district setting.  Internationally, she has provided trauma based work in El Salvador. 


Woman with shoulder length hair wearing a white shirt in front of a buildingAlicia Arambula, MSW, ASW, PPSC

Alicia Arambula is a Latinx School Social Worker in the south San Diego region. As a School Social Worker, Arambula has developed a mental health program to address youth mental health by providing professional learning opportunities for staff, establishing systems of support utilizing restorative practices and bridging the gap for students to access mental health counseling in or outside of school. Arambula has a Master of Social Work from San Diego State University with a pupil personnel services credential in social work. Arambula has over ten years of experience serving youth and their families in various capacities such as addressing diverse needs including substance dependency, immigration, and education. Arambula is a fronteriza, a hybrid culture that exists within border regions, which directly impacts her theoretical approach in serving her community. 


Woman with shoulder length hair and crossed arms stands wearing a light blue topClaudia Gonzalez, LCSW, PPSC-SW

Claudia Gonzalez is the lead child and adolescent mental health clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center in South San Diego. She has a Master of Social Work and Pupil Personnel Services Credential from San Diego State University. She has over 10 years of experience working along the U.S.-Mexico border close to her hometown of San Ysidro. Her personal experience and work in the border region have afforded Claudia the opportunity to understand the intersection of the communities social, sexual, and family ties in both countries.




Woman with should length hair and maroon top smilesClaudia Rojas, MA

Claudia Rojas earned her BA in Sociology from UCR, an MA in Education from UCLA, and an Administrative Credential from CSUDH; she has been an educator since 2003 and has always worked at high need schools in Los Angeles. Currently, Claudia serves as a Newcomer Coach and previously she served as a Restorative Justice Teacher Advisor. From 2012-2018, she served as a founding high school principal located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. The school focused on mental and behavioral health and is a student-centered, teacher-driven school. Claudia is committed to student voice, social justice, equity and access, innovation, and community collaboration.

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