McKay School alumnus helps Utah children accomplish their goals.
Brent Coffman, McKay School alumnus recently named Utah Psychologist of the Year, works to create hope for students, be an advocate for dreamers, and stimulate success. As he expresses it, “If you provide hope for students, they will continue to work for the future . . . When their hopes are dashed, they seek areas outside of education for their success. So my focus is always helping students to find ways to become a part of their dream.”
A Bartlesville, Oklahoma native, Coffman first became interested in the field of psychology after one of his high school friends took his own life; Coffman’s college classes and mentors later strengthened his decision to learn more about the human condition. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1991 and a master of education in school psychology in 1993, Coffman briefly held positions in the Provo and Davis School Districts before settling for most of his educational career in the Nebo District. He has spent the last 15 years in the Youth-In-Custody program as a school psychologist, earning during this time his professional counseling license and administrative endorsement. Additionally, Coffman provides crisis counseling at Mountain View and Timpanogos Hospitals and teaches classes at BYU in the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education.
In his current position in the Youth-In-Custody program, Coffman has been able to extend use of his education, training, and expertise by establishing mental health services in the community and supervising the therapists and psychologists who work with the students in the Nebo School District. “Additionally, I started training others in crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and risk assessment,” Coffman explained.
This top psychologist finds that leadership positions need to include the stewardship for allocating appropriate resources to students. He has noticed that once students are provided with the right learning tools they become more productive. As a leader he finds that teamwork is very important for inspiring hard work and implementing innovative ideas. He reflected,
My leadership experiences have led to me to realize that the school teams are the reason for my success. By recognizing [team members’] contributions and allowing them to pursue their interests, they return the favor by hard work and innovative ideas. Teams often look to my expertise to review ideas or clarify difficult situations. My relations with others are always focused on helping others become better at what they enjoy [about] their job. By doing so, I get the most out their abilities.
When he heard about his nomination for Utah Psychologist of the Year, Coffman was shocked, recalling all of his mentors who contributed to his success. He hopes that school psychologists will continue to be recognized and programs will continue to improve, motivating others to make positive contributions in their own communities.
Coffman’s career in the field of school psychology has required hard work and dedication, but he knows he is supposed to be in this position. Being able to witness the results of his work, although sometimes not immediate, reminds him that his efforts can help change lives.
“I have had many wonderful experiences and feel like my job is my dream come true,” Coffman recalled. “Seeing kids walk at graduation or become what they hoped to be is worth the effort and time spent helping them through some of life’s turbulence.”
Coffman and his wife, Christine, currently live in Mapleton, Utah with their six children.
Photo Courtesy Nebo School District. Coffman (left) standing with Mike Murray and Nancy Miramontes.