Person of the Week
‘No Typical Day’ for Tranquilli
While everyone has had their personal and professional lives changed by the COVID pandemic, school social workers are in a unique spot to witness the affects—and to help. At The Morgan School, social worker Maureen Tranquilli has made such an impact she was selected as Clinton Public School’s 2021 Teacher of Year. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News)
Everyone knows the last year and a half have been a trying time, especially for children in school. Luckily for kids in The Morgan School, social worker Maureen Tranquilli, Clinton Public School’s 2021 Teacher of Year, is there to help.
Maureen has been a social worker in the Clinton school system for 20 years. To say she’s intimately familiar with Clinton would be an understatement. Maureen herself graduated from The Morgan School with the class of 1987. Close to 35 years later, Maureen is still giving back to her alma mater.
“I guess it just felt like home to me,” Maureen says.
For her hard work and dedication, last month Maureen was recognized by the district as its 2021 teacher of the year. Though it was formally announced recently, Maureen says she actually found out Clinton Public School’s 2021 Teacher of Year last May.
“It’s amazing. I was beyond humble and grateful,” Maureen says. “Just having someone nominate me and recognize me for the award meant a lot.”
“One thing I always say is, ‘There is no typical day’” Maureen says.
In general, Maureen is involved in different teams that address various issues teens are facing, manages a caseload of students who need counseling and more. For her, “being able to see students reach their goal and find their voices” is her favorite part of her work. Being a social worker also means helping students deal with the very real and traumatic experiences that happen.
“Over the years we’ve had loss in our community. Losing students, or watching students that have lost family, is always the hardest,” says Maureen.
Still, Maureen says see seeing the students get over obstacles when they don’t think they can be the most rewarding part of her job. In fact, Maureen says she was recently told by a student she was counseling that the time spent with Maureen made that student want to be a social worker.
A side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the societal changes that came with it is a feeling of isolation and frustration. Maureen says she has seen that, too.
“When COVID hit, I found myself being sought out more,” Maureen says.
Maureen credits the attentiveness of other staff members and parents with being proactive in noticing students who may need help.
To help the students, Maureen says that there has been regular communication with them to try and understand what it is they are dealing with and how they can be better supported with the ongoing pandemic.
“Obviously we’ve all never been through this and we need to know what the students need. I think it’s been going well,” Maureen says.
To further help with the kids mental health this year, Maureen says the school will provide time to decompress during what’s called Wellness Wednesday. Wellness Wednesday is a biweekly break every Wednesday where kids get a short break from the day to focus on other interests.
“It provides time for them to do things they like to do and connect with everyone whether its other students or staff,” says Maureen.
It’s fitting that Maureen now spends her days helping Morgan School students, because it was in the hallways of The Morgan School that Maureen herself first realized that social work was a profession she might pursue.
“When I was in high school, I was the one everyone came to talk to across all kinds of friend groups,” recalls Maureen. “I have a genuine and sincere interest in listening and hearing everyone’s story, and everyone has their own story.”
She also credits a psychology class she took at Morgan that further deepened her interest in the profession.
Maureen was first hired in Clinton in 2001 after she spent some time as a paraprofessional, also in Clinton.
“I was just continuously finding my way back to Morgan and Clinton,” Maureen jokes.
For a time, Maureen split her duties between Morgan and with the middle schoolers at Eliot but is now just in Morgan.
“I feel like being at Morgan with students who are closer to being adults it’s easier to work with them sometimes,” Maureen says.
Additionally, Maureen says it is advantageous being in one building the entire time instead of splitting it between two.
“I enjoy what I do and I like being a helper,” Maureen sums up.
Maureen grew up in Clinton and though it is no longer where she lives, she still has fond words for it.
“I love that it’s a small town where people are really invested in it,” Maureen says. “There’s a real sense of community here, she says.
In her spare time, Maureen enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, and kickboxing.