Fall Updates from the Counseling, Advising, and Student Supports Team

Texas Education Agency

Fall 2021

The Counseling, Advising, & Student Supports Newsletter

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Counselor Corner

This fall newsletter offers key updates for counselors including financial aid information related to the new graduation requirement, a profile of the 2021 Texas School Counselor of the Year, and self-care strategies to support educators through a busy season. 


Advising Updates

2022-2023 Financial Aid Applications Now Open 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Texas Application for State Financial Aid  (TASFA) are now available for the 2022-2023 award year. Starting this year, students enrolled in grade 12 must submit a financial aid application or submit an opt-out form to graduate. The opt-out form is available on the Texas Education Agency website in English and Spanish. Along with the opt-out form, more information and resources for the new graduation requirement may be found at https://tea.texas.gov/academics/college-career-and-military-prep/financial-aid-requirement. 

In addition, TEA partnered with Texas OnCourse to create toolkits for four key audiences impacted by the new requirement: students; parents; educators; and community partners. Review and download these toolkits here: https://texasoncourse.org/educators/popular-links/the-new-financial-aid-graduation-requirement/ 

Finally, FAFSA completion data for the 2022-2023 application will be available soon in the Counselor Reporting Suite, which has moved to its new URL https://admin.applytexas.org/. Students do not need to use the ApplyTX application for their FAFSA completion information to be included in the Counselor Reporting Suite. If you would like access to this tool, please learn more here: https://www.applytexas.org/adappc/html/counselor_auth_info.html.   



Student Support Updates

Student and Educator Self-care 

Self-care is the act of intentionally engaging in stress reduction activities such as mindfulness practice to lessen the effects of stress or anxiety. Research identifies self-care as crucial to overall health and well-being, especially during times of heightened stress. Self-care falls into several well-being categories: intellectual, social, physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, and safety.  

Self-care strategies are abundant in this article by Harvard Edcast. It also points out the importance of modeling self-care and mental health wellness for students. 

Some best practice examples to support student and staff mental health wellness and mindfulness are highlighted in this Communities In Schools (CIS) article sharing what some CIS affiliates have done around the country. 

TEA’s Educator Wellness document also has many ideas and resources for educator self-care. 

Student Re-Engagement Resources 

The pandemic has led many Texas students to miss a significant amount of instructional time during the past year. It will be critically important to get students re-engaged on campus with school-based instruction as quickly as possible in the new year to make up for lost instructional time.  Explore this toolkit developed by Attendance Works to guide your re-engagement work on campus. 


Counseling Updates

Congratulations to Ashley Wright, the 2021 Lone Star School Counselor of the Year! 

Ashley Wright currently serves as an elementary school counselor in Conroe ISD at Lucille J. Bradley Elementary. She has been an educator and school counselor for the past 17 years. From weekly counseling lessons, student leadership opportunities, parent education shows, and student achievement awards, Ashley brings enthusiasm and campus engagement throughout the entire school year. Ashley also influences other professional school counselors in their role and strives to create positive change in our education system. As the 2021 Lone Star School Counselor of the Year, Ashley will represent Texas in the 2022 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) School Counselor of the Year selection process and was recently named one of the country’s five finalists! For more information, visit https://www.lonestarstateschoolcounselor.org/.   

Comprehensive School Counseling Program Plans 

The CASS Team is continuing to collect best practice examples of comprehensive school counseling program (CSCP) plans that we can share as exemplars. If you have a CSCP plan that you'd be willing to share with us, please email it to stephanie.lerner@tea.texas.gov. Thank you!  

New & Noteworthy

The Texas School Mental Health website has arrived! This resource provides districts and campuses with the resources and tools needed to develop a comprehensive school mental health system. 

SB 179 addresses the use of public-school counselors’ work time and went into effect September 1, 2021. Read the full bill text here for more information and clarification.  

The 2021-2022 National Educational and Health Awareness Dates calendar is available now, shared from ASCA. 

Contentment Foundation / Four Pillars of Wellbeing- The Contentment Foundation is offering one year of unlimited access to the Four Pillars of Wellbeing online platforms for adults and students to select schools. Your school must meet various criteria to qualify. Visit the link above for more details. 


Stay in Touch

General inquiries can be directed to CASSTeam@tea.texas.gov

Alexis Bauserman, Director, College, Career, and Military Preparation  Alexis.Bauserman@tea.texas.gov

Stephanie Lerner, Counselor Support Program Manager   Stephanie.Lerner@tea.texas.gov

Sara Vercher, Mental Health Program Manager   Sara.Vercher@tea.texas.gov

Lindsey Phillips, Effective Advising Program Manager   Lindsey.Phillips@tea.texas.gov

Eric Metcalf, Student Supports Program Manager  Eric.Metcalf@tea.texas.gov

Sara Grunberger, Communities In School Statewide Director Sara.Grunberger@tea.texas.gov

Michael Willard, Advising Partnerships Manager  Michael.Willard@tea.texas.gov

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