Angela Cristo hangs up her cap and gown

English teacher retires after almost 20 years.


Lani Boyle, Staff Reporter - West Campus

After 19 years in education, English teacher Angela Cristo has decided it’s time to hang up her cap and gown and retire. Cristo has taught AP Language and Composition along with other classes, such as theater, throughout the past 19 years and has had a significant impact on her students and the district over the course of her career.

In fact, Cristo helped create the AP Language and Composition (APLAC) class alongside a fellow English teacher at East Campus. AP Language and Composition is an Advanced Placement English class offered at both East and West campuses. The curriculum is structured like traditional English classes, but the workload is heavier and more project-based.

APLAC is a favorite among the upperclassmen at West Campus due to the variety of classwork and the independent vibe of the class.

“I enjoy APLAC because of how different the assignments are,” said Junior Morganne Coon, who is currently enrolled in the class. “This semester we spent about two months making documentaries and I thought that was cool because we do not do things like that in other classes.”

APLAC is not traditionally set up like most other classrooms. Much of the work is provided online and meant to be done at home. Inside the classroom, there are lectures, discussions, and often some work time, too. 

The class is not very hard concept-wise but it does take a lot of effort to make sure your paper or presentation is the best that it can be,” said Coon. “Also, I would recommend it because I think it is a great class to be in. I don’t mind going everyday and overall you learn a lot and talk a lot about college and usually have great discussions among the class.”

Coon said the discussions can easily get sidetracked and become more philosophical and deeper than intended, which is part of the reason why she enjoys it so much.

Peter Kim is the only other APLAC teacher at West Campus and will be taking Cristo’s place in running the class after she retires. While it is hard to imagine a school without Cristo in it, Kim is more than qualified to keep APLAC afloat. 

Those intending on enrolling in the class should not fret, though, as Kim said he does not plan on making any significant changes to the curriculum. He jokes, however, that he will be unable to bring the same charisma to the classroom that Cristo is known for. 

“With all my classes, I always try to improve them, so minor changes are inevitable, but the major projects will still be there,” he said. “I can’t ‘wooo!’ the way Mrs. Cristo can, so there will be less of those, unfortunately,” Kim laughed.

When Coon found out about Cristo’s retirement, like many of her students, she was upset to hear about it.

“Students can tell when teachers do not care much about helping their students outside of the classroom, but Mrs. Cristo actually does,” Coon said. “She cares about how you are doing at home and in her class. She doesn’t just value your grades; she wants to make sure we’re all okay and that’s important.”

It’s hard to imagine Cristo in any other role than as a teacher, however, she did not originally start her career as an educator but always knew she wanted to be one.

“In my yearbook from high school, one of my teachers wrote in it, ‘I can’t wait for you to join the teachers and become an educator’ because I had said that I wanted to become a teacher and teach English and direct the plays,” said Cristo. “But I did not go to school to become a teacher.”

Cristo graduated from the college of Loyola with a degree in communications thinking she was maybe going to write for a newspaper or be on television.

“At some point, I realized that was not what I wanted to do, so I went back and got my teaching certificate, but I really did always want to teach even when I was little,” she said.

When Cristo was in her twenties she suffered a great loss — her mother. This has played into her everyday life greatly, even her decision to retire a bit early.

“My mom died young when I was in my twenties,” said Cristo. “I didn’t want to not have time to enjoy my life a little bit. I have friends who still have their parents and they complain about them, it makes me angry but they just forget. It’s a hard thing to go through every day.”

Cristo spoke with a notably heavy heart but is still very optimistic about her future and her plans with her husband. They have plans to spend 10 days in the Southern region of Italy in September.

“I love traveling!” said Cristo. “When I was young, I backpacked through Europe and studied abroad and I have been to most places in Europe.”  

When talking about her future travels and plans, Cristo couldn’t contain her excitement. Cristo isn’t quite sure what her future will hold, but is open to different opportunities, possibly even writing a book. 

“My husband and I are going to get a convertible and travel around the country and I want to do something creative,” she said. “I like change, so I’m open to doing a new job or creative endeavor.”

Cristo’s students can vouch for the fact that she brings the same energy and optimism that she uses to talk about her upcoming travels to her teaching and classes. On a few occasions, Cristo’s classes would get sidetracked into off-topic-whole-class discussions. Even the kids who rarely participated included themselves.

Whether it was discussing college or just telling life stories, there was never a dull moment. It was these discussions that Cristo said she was going to miss the most.

Really it’s not just about the lessons,” she said. “It’s about the relationships I have with kids and some of the conversations we have had in class that were not even about what we were teaching. I think that’s what I will miss the most, engaging with young people because they do kind of inspire you and keep you thinking.”

She wishes the best for her current students as she departs from West Campus and wanted to leave them with a message.

“The biggest lesson that I have learned in life that took me a long time is that the easy thing is not always the right thing,” she said. “So don’t just say something is easy so you’ll do it. Sometimes things are more difficult, especially with relationships…You have to build those relationships. Know who is important in your life. I think that is the most important thing — build the correct ones and know who is good for you.”