An Interview with the Interim Dean of Students, Mr. Clementi

Mr. Clementi, former chair of the Social Studies department, has been selected as Interim Dean of Students. Although he is new to this position, he certainly is not new to Merion. In addition to his new position, he will continue as Mock Trial Coordinator. Ricordia staff writers Justine, Eve, and Mairead interviewed Mr. Clementi for this article. 

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What’s your favorite color?

Mr. Clementi: Blue. 

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: Any particular reason?

Mr. Clementi: Blue is the color of my wife’s eyes. She’s been my best friend for 36 years.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What’s your favorite movie?

Mr. Clementi: My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life because it reminds me of the importance of doing little things in people’s lives and how in the end those little things add up to meaning more than the largest gifts we can give to each other.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What made you stay at Merion for all these years?

Mr. Clementi: I’ve done a lot of different things in my life. I’ve been in sales, I’ve been an attorney […] and there’s nothing that’s given me greater professional satisfaction than being a part of this process of seeing young women going from being Mercy girls to being women who seek justice and mercy. Being a part of the mentorship, seeing them overcome things they didn’t think they would overcome […] I’m just really proud of the education we provide grounded in the mercy tradition. 

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: How has the transition from teacher to Interim Dean of Students been?

Mr. Clementi: I feel like it’s going really well. I do a lot of things based upon reflecting and I have this feeling that while I love the classroom and love teaching, I really felt God’s calling to do something different. The thing I love most about teaching is the one-on-one relationship that I built with students. What I really feel like is the core part of my job is to make sure that I instill a climate in the building where those relationships can flourish. […] I feel really good about where we are as a community […] a lot of really positive energy in the building.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What are some challenges you have to face that you didn’t have to have as a teacher?

Mr. Clementi: As a classroom teacher your days are pretty much regulated by when your classes fall and there’s a certain rhythm to the day that I know how tasks are going to fall, and the challenge for me with this job is balancing the time demands. Right now I’m planning things that are […] two-three weeks, even months away, but at the same time, there are things in my job that I have to respond to right now and it’s a whole different time management balance.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: How is your experience being interim Dean of Students? Do you have any highlights?

Mr. Clementi: I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m really happy with a lot of the positive feedback I’ve heard from people. I do like the one-on-one interactions with students and also being a voice in terms of [how] the overall community presents itself so it’s kinda cool to be able to speak at the community resets and it’s cool to be able to plan the big events that are part of the Merion tradition like Weenie Roast, orientation, Harvest Moon, prom. […] And that I still can have those one-on-one conversations with the students and mentor students.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What things do you hope to change/improvements you hope to make this year at Merion?

Mr. Clementi: This year my goal is to really just work on communication and clarity in terms of how the school looks and how different events look, that things look professional and that there’s a level of importance to them. One of the things I really want to work on long-term is doing more leadership training and development with the different student group leaders

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What’s your favorite mercy quote?

Mr. Clementi: I say the Suscipe every morning just because I find that particularly in a new role I get anxious about things and there’s a level of risk leaving the classroom after 15 years […] it allows me to circle back and trust in that mercy tradition.

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: How do you handle being Dean of Students and Mock Trial Coordinator?

Mr. Clementi: Figuring that one out. I really really liked the idea of continuing mock trial because it’s still teaching. I miss that teaching element that’s part of Mock Trial. It’s really a question of how I can efficiently use my time.  

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: What advice would you give to all Mercy students?

Mr. Clementi: I think there is a perception out there that your life has to be perfect and that you should have everything figured out by the time you’re 15. I would tell all of you that no one in this world is perfect. Embrace a growth mindset, which is the sense that problems are not failure’s on your part, but an opportunity to learn and grow and overcome something. Embrace everything as an opportunity to grow. 

Justine, Eve, and Mairead: Who is your favorite student? (only one right answer)

Mr. Clementi: My favorite student was my daughter, class of 2016.