J.P. Taravella High School Loses Athletic Director to COVID-19

jason Stein taravella

Jason and Michele with their daughters. {Facebook}

By: Jen Russon

Jason Stein, a veteran faculty member at J.P. Taravella High School, has died from complications of the coronavirus at the age of 46. His education career spanning over 15 years, the bald and burly athletic director led many teams to victory and won over many hearts.

“Jason was one of the finest, most genuine human beings that you will ever come across. He always made you feel better when you were in his presence,” said longtime friend Mark Montimurro.

A softball coach at Coral Springs Charter School, Montimurro was among many in the Coral Springs and Parkland communities to not only mourn Stein’s loss but express their shock.

Michele Wajser Stein, Assistant Principal at Coral Glades High School, shared updates with Taravella Staff, indicating her husband’s condition appeared to be improving since his hospitalization in July — he had been taken off a ventilator and was breathing better.

Instead, on August 20, with his wife and two daughters by his side, Stein passed away.   

“None of this makes any sense, but his big heart and compassion always did, and I am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to coach soccer at JPT,” said Kathy Fitzgerald, a fellow teacher at Taravella.

Fitzgerald added that her late friend always looked out for the coaches, athletes, and students.

“There is going to be a big hole here without him,” she said.

Named athletic director at Taravella in 2011, Stein had a reputation at the home of the Trojans for being someone you’d want to go into battle with.

“I knew that not only would he be fighting for the right cause, but he wouldn’t leave me behind if I got hurt, and he knew I wouldn’t leave him behind if he got hurt,” said Shawn Cerra, Director of Athletics and Student Activities.

When Principal Mary DeArmas broke the news of Stein’s death, she announced a memorial tribute for Coach Stein would be delivered via Zoom on Thursday.

At this time, funeral arrangements are pending and will be shared with Taravella students, teachers, and families when Coach Kristen Zanleoni, a close family friend, has more information.

Check back with Coral Springs Talk for those updates.

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