Saying good-bye to our teachers

Teachers retiring and pursuing new dreams


Assistant Principal Jamie Carayannis has been at Annandale since 1973, his freshman year of high school.

As the school year comes to a close, teachers and students alike are preparing for the summer. However, every year, there are teachers and faculty members who will be saying their final good-byes.

Featured are six staff members who will be leaving AHS. They shared their memories and experiences at AHS and what their future plans hold.

Jamie Carayiannis

Assistant Principal Jamie Carayiannis walks up and down the aisles of the cafeteria, stopping at every few tables to talk to students about their day. Most students will recall Carayiannis’s energetic voice blaring through the microphone at the end of every single lunch period with signature phrase “Thanks for showing up.”

However, in three weeks, this familiar phrase will soon become a memory. After 27 years, Carayiannis will be retiring from AHS. Before becoming a part of the administrative team, he started his tenure as a Physical Education teacher. What many do not know is that Carayiannis also graduated from AHS in 1978. 

Although having a more directive role at school, Carayiannis spends most of his day outside of his office. This can be credited to his active personality and character as he also served as the coach for the baseball, football, track and wrestling teams. Carayiannis wants to continue his passion for sports and the outdoors after retiring.

“I am looking into beginning the process into becoming a football referee,” Carayiannis  said. “Possibly even a wrestling referee or a softball umpire.”

Still, Carayiannis wants to stay away from the limelight. He sees himself coaching younger kids at young clubs and having more of a low-key life after retirement. Along with coaching, he also wants to do more adventurous activities that he has not gotten the chance to enjoy such as fishing and building with wood.

“I like creating and being outside,” Carayiannis said. “I want to continue doing something with a little bit of challenge.”

One of the many in school challenges that Carayiannis was tasked with through the years is assisting in the selecting and hiring of qualified teachers. However, Carayiannis has enjoyed this responsibility. He treats this task seriously as the young teachers that he helps hire will be here long after Carayiannis leaves.

“The impact that I personally had kids is nice, but when you hire somebody else to have that impact on a school or on kids or on a program,” Carayiannis  said. “When you decide to make that hire and have them be that [impactful] person for 30 more years, that is just a cool thing to think about.”

Carayiannis is proud of the influence he has had in making a long lasting print on the future of the school, even after he leaves. The students are the thing that he will miss the most, but he knows that they will be in great hands with the teachers he works with.

He recalls the people that had impacted him in a positive way at the start of his own career; Carayiannis wants to be that person for the new teachers. He wants teachers to remember that the kids are the number one focus and that they should do whatever is the best for the kids. For his successor, Carayannis wants he or she to support their teachers.

“The closer it gets to the end, the more I think about the beginning and how it was,” said Carayannis. “I think about who has impacted me and got me started and in my last year, that is what I am trying to do.”

Along with the students, he will also miss the long term relationships he has built with other staff members. Carayannis also recognizes the changes he has undergone while here. Carayannis realized that there were more to things than the surface image. There is always a story behind a student or an adult.

“I am probably more compassionate,” said Carayannis. “I grew in a standard where things were very much black or white, everything was right or wrong.”

Carayannis has tried to maintain lively atmosphere at every location in the school, whether that is the hallways or the cafeterias. He greets almost every student and staff member in the halls and genuinely cares about their lives. Carayannis has been a significant member of the community and his impacts on the school are irreplaceable.

Patrick Hughes

After over 18 years teaching at AHS, Physical Education and Driver’s Education teacher Patrick Hughes is planning to retire. Hughes started as a special education’s teacher and advised other instructors across the district on how to include students with disabilities in their teaching. He has also served as the head coach for both the Boys and Girls varsity basketball teams before officially stepping down from coaching three years ago.

During his retirement, Hughes will be focusing on his hobbies and plans that he has not been able to completely fulfill while teaching. Many of these are outdoor activities,including camping and traveling. Hughes also plans on spending more time at his beach house, while picking up volunteer work from time to time as well.

“I am planning do a lot of outdoor adventure type of stuff,” Hughes said. “I am also planning on doing some work on my homes.”

Hughes keeps his classroom environment light and through the years, has formed a special connection to his students. The interaction with his students and staff is Hughes’s most memorable experience while teaching.

“I’m going to miss the day to day experience with kids,” Hughes said. “It’s what keeps me young.”

He now looks behind every action and tries to see the reasoning behind them. This has given him a new perspective on the lives of his students.

“When you show respect, you get respect back,” Hughes said. This outlook has earned Hughes both respect and popularity from his students. Hughes is passionate about his job and his responsibility as an instructor to inform and educate kids.

The teacher that will be replacing Hughes after his retirement will sure have big shoes to fill. “I’m going to miss having a teacher that I can joke around with,” said sophomore Zain Ghul. “He can joke back with me and no one will be upset because you know he is such a nice person.”

When asked about a piece of advice that he would give to his successor, or any other teacher, Hughes recommended to just have fun with the process and emphasized that time goes quickly while teaching. Hughes also recommended that teachers should still retain outside hobbies that they enjoy when they are not teaching.

“Just enjoy the time with the kids and the experience of it all,” said Hughes.

Ryan Smith

Like many of his own IB Physics SL and HL seniors, Ryan Smith will also be going to college this coming August. Smith will be leaving at the end of this school year in order to pursue a full time electrical engineering degree. He was accepted into George Mason University’s program this past winter and will be starting his master’s degree in the fall semester.

My decision to leave was something I thought about for years,” Smith said. “It’s just kind of at the right point in my life to switch to getting the degree that I have always wanted.”

After six years teaching, four of which were here, Smith has learned valuable lessons from his students. Smith appreciates the diversity that is offered at AHS and all the different cultural knowledge and ways of learning that his students have displayed.

The diversity and various education styles has helped Smith find his own style of teaching.

“I think mr smith is a good teacher, he really connects with his students and makes class interesting,” said junior Ingrid Guardado. “He also makes a lot of funny Star Wars jokes and puns.”

His students are also the thing that Smith will miss the most, followed by his co-workers. Smith praised his physics team and the great teamwork they have displayed year after year. One tradition that all the physics teachers work together on is the annual Physics Expo.

“The Physics Expo has been one of my most memorable moments as a teacher,” said Smith.

After physics teacher David Tyndall’s leave last year, Smith has stepped up to take over both the higher level and standard level IB physics classes. Now, for his own successor, Smith just wants him or her to enjoy physics.

“Have fun with it,” said Smith. “Do lots of labs and lots of hands on activities and make learning fun.” Casey Grandy

Math teacher Casey Grandy is choosing another teaching job that is closer to home.

The decision was not easy, but Grandy wants to spend more time with her now three year-old daughter.

Grandy’s typical commute to work takes over an hour, which has taken a tollon the amount of time she can spend with her daughter. For her next job, Grandy will continue to teach math at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School in Prince Williams County.

Grandy first started her career in teaching right after graduation from college. Grandy taught Geometry and Geometry Plus for her first four years, and this year, she taught Applied Calculus and IB Math Studies in addition to Geometry. During her five year tenure at here, Grandy has also served as the teacher sponsor for National Honor Society for the last two years.

Grandy complimented her department for treating her like family and thanks them for helping her transition from college to teaching. She hopes that they can remain in contact after she leaves.

“I was fresh from college,” said Grandy. “The other teachers here really helped me grow to be the teacher that I wanted to be and made me feel like I belonged somewhere.”

Grandy values the relationships she has made, both with her colleagues and her students. She also recalls the change in her teaching style over the years. When she first started, Grandy tried to implement strict directions that students need to follow.

However, she quickly learned that not everything about teaching can be perfect all the time.”In order to get students or anybody to do anything,” said Grandy. “I had to first love them and get them to trust me.”

She makes sure that the most important thing is that all her students realize that she is there for them. Grandy also emphasizes this exact point to the next person that will take her place at AHS.

“Start with love, start with making sure the kids know you care,” said Grandy. “The rest will fall in place.”

Francesca Mast

A teacher that is truly passionate inher work and about her students will be saying goodbye come June. Biology teacher Francesca Mast is taking off after 10 years of being an Atom.

Over the last decade, Mast has taught various biology and science courses including standard Biology, ESOL Biology, IB Biology (both standard and higher levels) and Human Anatomy and Physiology. Mastis also the sponsor for the National Science Honor Society.

After leaving, Mast will continue teaching. However, she has decided to adjust her classes and now will be pursuing a career in teaching AP Biology.

“I have an opportunity to teach AP biology and be able to compare it to IB Biology,” said Mast. “I think that it is a chance for me to grow a little bit in my own learning.”

Mast sees her time at AHS as a truly valuable one. She describes AHS as her home and that it holds a special place in her heart. She will miss the excitement of meeting a new, diverse group of students every year.

Her students have changed her life just as much as she has change theirs. This is also the view that many of her students have of Mast as well.

“Even though I didn’t like biology at first I was always excited to go to her class,” said senior Mohamed Elhag. “She helped me enjoy the subject.”

Mast also thanks her department and biology team for helping her in her teaching.

Her fellow teachers have become inspirations to her and she expresses her gratitude to all their love.

“I really appreciate their comradery and they are also inspiring to me,” said Mast. “I think I have being really lucky that I was able to work with them for so long.”

Going beyond just the classroom, Mast suggests that new teachers should become interested in the other student activities that are offered and to see their students in new lights outside of a single class.

“It [the cultural experiences] really adds to your view of students and you see them as a whole person,” said Mast.

Debbie Estes 

At the end the school year, Spanish teacher Debbie Estes will be retiring after 33 years of teaching at AHS. Estes has taught practically all levels of Spanish, including Spanish one to four. She has seen AHS transform and grow like no other faculty member.

After three decades, Estes reflected on the lessons she has learned herself while teaching and the impacts that both her fellow teachers in the Foreign Language department and the students have made on her.

“[AHS] has taught me a lot about accepting others,” said Estes. “It has also taught me a lot about patience.”

Estes cherishes the relationships she has developed. She values the sense of family and the opportunity to get along with such a diverse group of students. Her department had nothing but words of admiration and appreciation for her.

“She has been a great friend and an amazing mentor,” said Spanish teacher Bianca Mullins.

Estes plans to take care of her mother after her final year of teaching. For Estes, her students is what she will miss the most after retiring.

“They [the students] bring so much joy into your life,” said Estes. “You can be having the worst day and they can come in and pick you up.”

Estes also wants fellow teachers to get involved in all aspects of student life, not simply the times they are in that specific classroom. She wants the teachers to recognize students” hard work outside of the classroom such as in theatre, music and sports.

“Just get to see them as a whole student,”

said Estes.