Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year 2021

Tracy Litman

The Minnesota School Social Workers Association proudly announces the selection of Tracy Litman as the Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year for 20201.  Tracy has been a school social worker for Ordean East Middle School for 29 years.  She earned her BSW from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1987 and her MSW also from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1993.  She has been a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker since 2008.   Nominator Gina Kleive, Principal, wrote, “I am honored to work alongside Tracy Litman, Ordean East Middle School Social Worker or as she would say - a teacher of a different sort.  She has dedicated 30+ years to the students, families, staff and community of ISD709.  When I say “dedicated” I mean given her all, day in and day out 24/7/365.” She also went on to say “No matter who she is collaborating with, Tracy’s genuine care for her students’ best interest is at the forefront of every interaction. She can often be heard affirming a parent during a crisis - “You know your child best. We want to partner with you.” 

Tracy’s co-worker, Ron Lake, School Social Worker, shared “Tracy’s ability to connect with and teach students is rooted in her balance of compassion and accountability.  Not only does Tracy unconditionally care for kids, she holds them to the highest of standards- because she cares for them.  Additionally, Tracy is a talented Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker answering the call to help kids dealing with mental illness, emotional and behavioral disorders, cognitive delays, Autism disorders and those experiencing abuse or trauma. When students and families experience tragedy, Tracy is one of the first people we call to help people cope - evidence of this is Tracy’s service on our Summer Emergencies Team helping kids, families, and staff deal with student drownings at the elementary, middle and high school levels.”

Tracy makes strong connections with her staff as well continuing to educate them on how to meet students' needs. Victoria Sundell, Mental Health Coordinator for Duluth Preschools, writes, “Mrs. Litman is energetic and motivational both with students and coworkers.  Students and staff alike seek Mrs. Litman out to help them process struggles and identify ways to manage stressors. She always seems to have a way of making things seem so much smaller after talking to her. She is always unwavering in her support to all who seek her out.” 

Executive Director of Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA), Sara Niemi, shares “Tracy has been a support in different capacities to PAVSA for over 20 years.Tracy was a previous board member and was active in fundraising as the chair of the Art Auction, PAVSA’s biggest event of the year.  She is a cheerleader for our organization in the community and has also helped to recruit other board members.  Tracy continues to be engaged with PAVSA as an event attendee and donor, we are so grateful for her continued engagement and dedication.”

Tracy has been honored with numerous other awards during her career; she was recognized as being an Outstanding Organizational Advisor Nominee from UMD in recognition of service to the University (1992), Tracy was given the UMD Bulldog Award: Leadership and Service to University and Students (1993), she was given the PAVSA Certificate of Appreciation and Commitment, Energy and Devotion to the Vice-Chair Position (1997).  In addition, in 2010 Tracy was awarded the Outstanding MSW Field Supervisor Award from UMD Social Work Department and in 2016 Tracy was awarded the Manley and Lillian Goldfine Gold Star Teacher Award: Ordean Middle School.  Tracy shows incredible commitment to the social work profession and her community.

MSSWA is so excited to acknowledge Tracy Litman and her dedication to the school social work profession. Her knowledge, her support for her colleagues, her commitment to students and advocacy to the families she serves makes her our Minnesota School Social Worker of the year for 2021! Special Education Teacher, Stephanie Jasperson-Aagenes sums it up best by saying, “ Mrs. Litman has come to my rescue many times when special education students have had physical and verbal meltdowns. She has been a trainer for years for the school district with CPI. She has kept hundreds of students and staff safe from various dangerous situations. Mrs. Litman is always willing to help out when needed, even when this means staying after work hours to help others.” Congratulations Tracy!

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