Published: July 28, 2020

Angela Cleveland is the Program Director for NCWIT’s Counselors for Computing (ncwit.org/c4c), which provides professional school counselors with information and resources they can use to support all students as they explore computer science education and careers. She has 15 years of experience as a school counselor and received the “2017 New Jersey School Counselor of the Year" award. She is an Executive Board Member and Webmaster for the New Jersey School Counselor Association (NJSCA). 

Angela Cleveland What is your motto?

“Assume Positive Intent, but never minimize impact.” 

What has been your favorite work or personal project so far?

I love when the counselors in our workshops tell me that our program helped them to recenter and redefine their personal and professional purpose in removing barriers so every student can access opportunities.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My childhood aspiration was to be a hand model. I watched commercials, read magazines, and I was amazed at how someone could use their hands to highlight a product. So I practiced for years with fancy flourishes to highlight orange juice, shampoo, or snacks. But it felt like too much pressure to make sure my hands were in good shape and with photoshop, really anyone could be a hand model. To this day, people notice how I use my hands to showcase products!

Your coworkers can always count on you to . . .

Be positive and helpful! This is mostly through my use of technology tips about tools that help us to be more engaging, efficient, and effective. And I am always prepared with a bad pun or corny joke!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which coworker would you want to organize your rescue party, and why?

Definitely John Kelly! He would show up playing the saxophone, waving colorful flags, and with his four cats. There’s LITTER-ly no better way to be rescued! FUR real! (See above warning about the bad jokes!)

Which TV show do you never miss?

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He’s witty, smart, insightful and so caring! It’s the perfect combination of what I need to make sense of the world and also laugh! 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

10-80-10 Rule. When I first started in my career, I put together a huge program, and it was amazing! But I kept perseverating on a negative comment in my evaluations. I was talking to my school librarian about it, and she explained the rule this way: “10% of the people are going to be happy and give you great feedback just because they are generally positive people and care about you. It’s nice to hear but if you only listen to them, you don’t get constructive feedback and you get a big head. 10% of the people are going to give you negative feedback no matter how great the program is. You can give these people a free $100 bill and they will complain that’s dirty or crumbled. Focus on the 80% in the middle.” I break this rule is when it comes to hearing from those in marginalized populations whose voices have historically been silenced. I have used this advice for the past 20 years.

What do you most like to do to unwind?

I love listening to podcasts and taking walks. These days, I spend a lot of time on my patio just to get some fresh air. I hung up several hummingbird feeders, and I simply stop everything and watch them when they come by. It’s like a little pause to breathe in the wonder of them multiple times a day.