By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato High School graduate Anne (Melin) Mahoney has returned to her hometown to become the new high school social worker.
Mahoney, who graduated from DC in 1996, is filling in the position vacated by Heidi Kepley.
Mahoney received her social work degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
She comes to DC after serving as the social worker at Riverbend Academy, a charter school in Mankato, for more than five years.
Mahoney and her husband, Mike, had discussed moving closer to family. When this position became available, it became more feasible to do so.
“I wanted to stay in a school setting,” Mahoney said. “I’m good at working with students, and wanted to continue working with teens and families in the education area.”
Mahoney noted the school district’s reputation was a big part of her decision, as well.
“DC is known across the state as being one of the best schools,” Mahoney said. “Anywhere you go, people have heard of the DC School District.”
Growing up in the DC area gives her a unique perspective in working with the students here, said Mahoney, who is the daughter of Gail and Gary Stanley of Dassel and Bob Melin of Hutchinson.
“I am also well aware of the world around me, and the different challenges people have, so that will help in helping students,” she added.
Before Mahoney even started, she received a lot of calls welcoming her to the school district.
“I have never walked into a job that has been as welcoming as people here. A lot of people said this is the best place they have ever worked,” Mahoney said.
During the interview and orientation process, Kepley told Mahoney the district sets kids up for success, and Mahoney has observed that with staff as well, in the last few weeks.
She noted that DC has created a welcoming, supportive culture, and works to maintain that culture.
“A lot of time and energy is put into building relationships here. When staff feel good about their job, it creates better performance,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney enjoys helping others as a social worker. “Every day is different, and every day is a new day. You never know what you’re walking into.”
Although she does not yet know what they may be, Mahoney is sure she will have her share of challenges, “But I am ready for them. And because the staff is so supportive, if I don’t know the answer, I have lots of people to rely on for support.”
Mahoney’s husband, Mike, is a chiropractor in the Mankato area who is also certified in acupuncture.
The Mahoneys have three children: Ella, 4; David, 2; and Zachariah, 8 months.
For now, Mahoney is commuting back-and-forth from the family’s home in Mankato, but they plan to move to the DC area as soon as their house sells.