By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Schoolcraft Schools Superintendent Rick Frens recognized Megan Boynton, the district’s mental health coordinator, for making a difference for students, staff, and families in the district at an August school board meeting.
Boynton started at Schoolcraft Elementary as a paraprofessional in December, 2018. She moved to the student services coordinator position in May, 2020. Working in student services, Boynton became concerned about student mental health in early 2022. She was especially concerned by an elementary student “who faced anxieties and severe depression,” and then learned there were several more students at risk for severe depression, even suicide. She says, “it broke my heart to hear students this young struggle with their mental health.”
After expressing her concern with the administration, her student mental health coordinator role began in December of 2022. Boynton has a unique skill set: a social work degree from Spring Arbor University and training in core concepts of childhood trauma, and trauma and the effects on the brain. She has also participated in courses for crisis prevention.
“Schoolcraft is fortunate to have a team of four highly qualified staff members that specialize in social, emotional, and mental health of students,” said Matt Webster, secondary principal and assistant superintendent. “For a district our size to have a 1:250 ratio is pretty unheard of. Megan, specifically, has served the students, families, and staff this summer as three separate tragic events occurred to SCS families. Her leadership meant not only supporting the students and families during those times, but she also coordinated the communication within Schoolcraft Community Schools as every unfolded. We’re lucky to have her as a colleague and our families, I’m sure, feel fortunate to know she’s there in times of need as well.”
Boynton says her position allows for “in-house, direct care” which enables “tools and coping mechanisms.” These can help fill the gap with wait times to see an outside counselor or therapist.
Her duties are many: identifying students with mental health needs; coordinating with school personnel and family members to ensure appropriate and timely resources and services are provided; monitor overall general health of K-12 student population; assess student/client needs based upon unique social history and current situation; provide crisis management, including assessing students’ immediate and prolonged safety; coordinate and provide wrap-around services with outside agencies; maintain contact and positive relationships with mental health providers.
In addition, she leads the District Crisis Team and provides teachers and support staff with learning opportunities. When appropriate, she delivers direct therapy for student mental health needs and communicates and coordinates team meetings.
“Schoolcraft continually amazes me,” Boynton said. “I serve with four others on the District Support Team: Shelby, our school social worker, Britany, our 7-12 guidance counselor, Kelsey, our K-6 student services and Abby, our school psychologist. Each person has unique experiences, talents, and a wealth of knowledge to help our students and families.”
Superintendent Rick Frens spoke highly of Boynton. “Megan was exactly the right person at the right time for this role. We had several school tragedies this summer, and her ability to care for our students, their families and friends has been amazing. She has been able to gather the right people around the table at the right time to ensure the proper level of support is available. Our students and staff are lucky to have her on our team.”