The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Retiring Teachers Share Thoughts on Their Career


As the 2023-2024 school year comes to an end, the ACHS community has to say goodbye to wonderful teachers. They have taught and served our school community for many years and will now enjoy their retirement. 

Beth Coast

After 14 years at ACHS, ceramics teacher Beth Coast is retiring. 

Ceramics teacher Coast in Venice/ Photo by Beth Coast

Coast began teaching in 1985. She spent the start of her 39 year teaching career in Maryland, but because she had kids and lived in Virginia, she decided to teach at ACHS. Coast started the Ceramics Program at the school.

“The biggest highlight [of my career] is creating the ceramics department and watching it grow,” said Coast.  “It is such a fun class to teach.” 

She especially enjoys it when kids see their first glazed projects, as it is an exciting step for the students. 

Coast is looking forward to taking some time off and traveling with her husband, who also retired. 

“In September we’re going to drive out West and go camping for a month and hit all the canyons,” she said.

Coast will definitely continue doing her pottery. “No new hobbies, just continuing the ones I have” she said. She will do craft shows and keep having a stand at the annual Art on the Avenue in Del Ray. 

Titans will probably still see her around in school.

“I might come back to the school for testing and sub for my art department,” said Coast.

Her one request for students is to “just be kind and let people live their lives.”


James Pondolfino

James Pondolfino teaches the Academy of Finance Program. He has worked here for 15 years in the same building and even in the same classroom.

Photo by James Pondolfino

He has worked here for 15 years in the same building and even in the same classroom.

Pondolfino is a career switcher as he has worked in finance before deciding to teach. 

“If you arrive at a point in your life where you had an amazing ride [with] so many good experiences, it is too good to just let go,” he said. “I [had] to share this with somebody.”

Switching careers also came with some difficulties.

“This was a very big change. […] But with change, you accept new challenges.” 

Pondolfino is very happy he switched to teaching. He can see the impact on the students. “[Finance] is a subject you’re going to keep with you for the rest of your life.”

“Since I’m a financial planner, I’ve been putting up my retirement and setting it up,” he said. Pondolfino’s parents retired to an island in the state of Georgia and he is planning on moving there too. 

Pondolfino’s motto for retirement is: “I don’t want to work. I am on vacation. I  want every day to be Sunday.” 

Other than just enjoying his retirement, he wants to pick up old hobbies like kayaking. 

In addition to that, he wants to be active in the community. “I am going to volunteer in the theater group there [to] help them out,” said Pondolfino.

Pondolfino is not worried about the Academy of Finance. “My replacement is amazing. The academy is in good hands.” 


Leslie Jones 

Leslie Jones is a Theater and English teacher at ACHS. After teaching for 33 years, 25 of which she spent in ACPS, she will be retiring. 

Photo by Leslie Jones

Jones is from Pennsylvania but majored in theater at Penn State University and Brooklyn College. “Theater has always been in my blood and will always be in my blood” she says.

Later in 1991, Jones moved to Los Angeles after she got a job for the non-profit organization Teach for America.

Jones as a student/ Photo by Leslie Jones

Jones enjoys seeing alumni students after she taught them to catch up with them.

“Because I live here in Alexandria, [I see] them at sporting events, at the grocery store,” said Jones.

“Since I direct and produce the plays, I love it when the community comes out to see the play.” 

The shows are always very important to her and she hopes that the audience enjoys it just as much as she does. Jones wants to move away from Alexandria once she is retired.

“I’ve been here for 25 years [and] it is time for a new start in a new city,” she said. There, she wants to pursue social justice in theater by directing and producing shows. 

Jones’ favorite quote and motto is “it is what it is.”

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