A Sub’s Life! From the Senate Chamber To Our Classrooms

by Aidan Therrien ‘23

Anthony “Tony” Zagami, a frequent substitute teacher at Sherwood and other public schools in and around Olney, had a lengthy career in the federal government and public service. A testament to his impressive professional life, Zagami has photographs of him with former vice president Hubert Humphery, Maryland senator Chris Van Hollen, and even President Joe Biden, to name a few.

During the 1960s, Zagami started his career of public service as a young page for the United States Senate where he got to know the Vice President, Hubert Humphrey. In 1968, when Humphrey announced his bid for the Presidency, Zagami decided to work for his candidacy. “I was just a teenager at that time, so my duties were pretty much limited to answering phones, openinging mail, stuffing envelopes with campaign literature to be mailed out to constituents, and licking a lot of stamps,” said Zagami.
He remained in Washington D.C., working in a number of positions while attending college and law school. “My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college, so I served in several ‘patronage jobs’ in the Senate in order to pay for my college and law school tuition,” said Zagami.

Throughout his 25 years on Capitol Hill, Zagami had a variety of jobs. He worked as a Legislative Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and later the Staff Assistant to the Secretary of the Senate and to the Chief Reporter of Debates. In this position, he was on the senate floor in the well, the section between the senators and the vice president. “The Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Reporter of Debates have enough responsibility,” Zagami said. “They were there very seldom. I was their representative there to keep track of everything that was going on and to report back to him.”

Later, Zagami became the longest serving general counsel of the U.S.Government Publishing Office. He is the first and only person to be named the General Counsel Emeritus of the U.S. Government Publishing Office. After his retirement in 2007, he began to support his community by working for non-profits such as the Make A Wish Foundation. He recently co-founded the National Association of Senior Advocates, an organization that protects vulnerable seniors from scams.

Wanting “to give back to society,” Zagami acted on a suggestion from his wife Erin, a longtime school teacher, to be a substitute in MCPS. “It’s something I enjoy,” said Zagami. He feels especially connected to Sherwood, where his three children Dino, Helana, and Nia graduated. “A lot of these teachers that I sub for taught my kids,” remarked Zagami.