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Angela Zeoli helped lead Modesto City Schools through the return to in-person learning by outfitting classrooms to meet complex pandemic safety protocols, such as this custom desk shield.
Zeoli’s purchasing supported in-person learning
June 27, 2022
Name: Angela Zeoli Award: Classified Leader of the Year Title: Director I, Purchasing, Modesto City Schools ACSA highlights: member since 2019; participation in Region 7 events.
The smooth running of a district depends on those who lead it outwardly and those who keep the internal processes running. In nearly 30 years at Modesto City Schools, Angela Zeoli has supported individual school sites, IT, HR, negotiations and business, and since 2017, she has managed all purchasing for the district.
In her role as director of purchasing, she has led the district through the complex requirements of pandemic safety protocols. Schools couldn’t run without the necessary supplies, which encompass everything from cleaning materials to appliances to laptops, from PPE to sports gear and musical instruments, and even comprises cutting-edge medical equipment for a health academy program. Zeoli oversees the equipping of 34 school sites and 30 ancillary departments in MCS, tracking and fulfilling a myriad of requisitions, bids, quotes and purchase orders and upholding strict equity to ensure that all learning communities are supplied equally. When schools closed, Zeoli immediately pivoted to focus on providing 1:1 devices and expanding student connectivity.
Without the efforts of Zeoli and her team, returning to in-person learning wouldn’t have been possible. Her team outfitted classrooms, offices, staff cubicles, meeting areas, cafeterias, break rooms and all other common areas with shields, gloves, masks, sanitizers and cleaning supplies, in many cases replacing tables with desks and working with a vendor to design a custom desk shield that would provide maximum space and protection. More recently, she implemented a surplus process to dispose of outdated technology and by repurposing it generate revenue for new technology programs and purchases.
“What makes Angela stand out above her peers is her relentless dedication to the heart of what we do, students,” wrote Mike Rich, senior director of CIPD at MCS. “Whether we are looking to buy band instruments to replace damaged inventory, or we are finding the best furniture products for collaborative learning, Angela always gives of her time and energy to ensure a successful implementation.”
What’s your favorite book on leadership? My favorite book on leadership is called “A Slice of Trust” by David Hutchens and Barry Rellaford. It is a cute, very easy, short read about establishing trust in your relationships.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? Don’t take yourself too seriously and remember that attitude is everything ... stay positive even when it seems the most difficult thing to do.
What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? Take time for yourself whether in the mornings, evenings or on weekends. You’ll never be completely caught up and the work will always be there.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Network, network, network! Reach out to others in the same field as you and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They were all new at some point in their life, too!
What would people be surprised to learn about you? People would be surprised to learn I was a young world traveler. Because my single mother worked for a major airline and she loves to travel, she took me with her to see places all over the world all before the age of 17.
What made you want to become a school administrator? I fell into this position, actually. Starting in Modesto City Schools 28 years ago, I worked my way up from a secretary to director. Growing up, I always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. In fact, my preschool teacher noted in my “report card” that I regularly had a group of the other preschool children sitting in a circle around me while I “conducted a lesson.”
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to get where you are? I grew up in a poor side of town (i.e., the ghetto) and didn’t attend the best of schools. My mother did her best to try to get me into better schools which meant I switched schools a lot. In junior high, I had to take a public bus in order to attend a school several miles from home, which meant I didn’t have any school friends who lived in my neighborhood. I was also heavily bullied all through school and therefore had no desire to continue higher education when I graduated high school ... unfortunately, I couldn’t wait to just finish and never return to school! However, as an adult, I realized having a college degree is a necessary step to really get where you want to be.
What are you proudest of accomplishing? I have two things that tie for what I am most proud of accomplishing. First, I returned to school and obtained my college degree in my 40s while working full time after being a single mom and raising my daughter. The second is being recognized by ACSA to receive this award as Classified Leader of the Year. I am very proud of both of these accomplishments!
How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? ACSA keeps their members informed on a regular basis. I truly enjoy the regular emails and legislative updates, as well as the EdCal publication. ACSA also provides valuable professional development opportunities.
Angela Zeoli and her siblings.