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Warehouse manager built career, well-oiled operation that keeps district running


What started as an after-school job in high school led to a long and rewarding career for warehouse manager Todd Zielke, who is now in his 32nd year with Cherry Creek Schools. Zielke’s work also led to the evolution of a central warehouse and distribution system that ensures students, staff and schools always have the essential educational supplies they need. 

As a student at Aurora’s Rangeview High school, Zielke worked evenings on a custodial crew cleaning Cherry Creek schools and other facilities, including the warehouse. The warehouse foreman at that time encouraged him to apply for a part-time job. He started the day after his high school graduation in 1985 and never looked back.

“I’m really proud to work here in the warehouse. We’ve done a lot of good things,” Zielke said.

Forklift 1.jpgZielke worked his way up from part-time to full-time, to lead warehouseman in 1998 to warehouse manager in 1999. Along the way, he learned every aspect of warehouse operations and witnessed dramatic changes in the district.

“The biggest challenge was trying to keep up with the growth,” Zielke said.

When he started, the district had 33 schools and 26,549 students, compared to the 60 schools and nearly 55,000 students it has today.

“As the district grew, I grew,” he said.

Over the years, the warehouse added staff, though the whole team is still just 12 people. They added equipment: hand trucks, forklifts and delivery trucks to handle both inter-district mail and regular deliveries of essential school supplies like copier paper, pens and pencils, Kleenex and toilet paper.

299 Foss Science.jpgZielke and his team found new ways to utilize the existing space in the 29,760 square foot warehouse, especially when the district adopted the Full Option Science System (FOSS) curriculum, which utilizes hundreds of large science kits that are stored in the warehouse and rotated to all elementary schools every few weeks.

“That was challenging, just to make that happen, to fit it in the building,” Zielke said. “We were able to do it without expanding the building.”


That was accomplished by extending the warehouse storage racks up, rather than out.

The technology the department uses has also changed. The warehouse now handles central receiving for the entire district, digitally scans packing slips for transparency and uses a web-based inventory control system. The improvements have helped the department better fulfill its mission.

“Our goal is to provide excellent customer service in a cost-effective manner,” Zielke said. “Technology has really, really helped us. It allows us to be more efficient. We’re not going to hold up learning. We’re here for the students.”

Lo res 499 Warehouse crew.jpgZielke says his team members and the teamwork and communication they display on a daily basis are the reasons for the department’s success. They are also what make it hard for him to think about retirement, which is looming in the not-too-distant future. While he’s looking forward to new challenges and more time with family, he can look back with a sense of satisfaction. Even after 32 years, he says he would do it all again.

“Absolutely. It’s a great place to work.”

Posted 10/28/2016 10:09 AM
Warehouse Manager Todd Zielke


“Our goal is to provide excellent customer service in a cost-effective manner. Technology has really, really helped us. It allows us to be more efficient. We’re not going to hold up learning. We’re here for the students.”

-Todd Zielke, CCSD Warehouse Manager

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Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

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