Popular Mercer Island Teacher Dies From Apparent Heart Attack

Jesse Jaramillo suffered a coronary attack Wednesday and later died Friday, Island Park Elementary Principal David Hoffman said in a letter to school parents and staff.

Update, noon Monday, Aug. 20:

President Tani Lindquist commented on the unexpected passing of P.E. teacher Jesse Jaramillo yesterday by phone. Here's the heartfelt and emotional message in full:

"I'm just devastated about the news about Jesse. He was one of the few PE teachers on the Island and he was a good friend. I would say that the Island Park staff and everyone who has worked with hims are just in shock, and just devastated by the news.

He offered the () district a lot. He's the one who brought dance education to our district. He helped mentor me in learning how to teach kids dance, and was just really active and fun. He snowboarded, as well as dancing, and was a prankster and had a fun sense of humor. He was a really great educator and a great person to be around. It certainly is a loss to the Mercer Island education community and, um, just a loss to all of his friends, too."

He'll definitely be missed."


Original Story: Popular Island Park Elementary P.E. teacher Jesse Jaramillo died Friday, two days after suffering an apparent heart attack. 

In a letter to staff and parents, Principal David Hoffman called the loss "tragic."

Hoffman wrote: 

Dear Island Park Community, 

It saddens me deeply to inform you of the passing of Island Park's beloved P.E. teacher, Jesse Jaramillo.

I was informed that Jesse suffered from coronary arrest on Wednesday and passed away Friday afternoon. I can only imagine the incredible shock and immense grief that those who knew and loved Jesse must be feeling upon receiving this tragic news.

I know I speak on behalf of our entire learning community when I say that we have lost a beloved, talented, kind, and kid-centered teacher, colleague and friend.

From all I have been told, Jesse was a gem of a person who was completely devoted to his work with children. I know we will reach out to each other for solace and strength. There will be many opportunities for remembering and honoring Jesse.

I am working with district personnel to have counseling services available, if needed. In the next few days, our school web site will provide information regarding opportunities to honor Jessie and links to sites that share information about how to grieve with children. I am confident that, together, we will gently navigate the proper course that both honors Jessie's memory and ushers in a new school year filled with hope and promise.

Our children need that, and Jesse would want no less. I apologize for the impersonal nature of this notification, but wanted to make sure that you were notified in a timely and respectful fashion. 

My thoughts are with the entire Island Park learning community and know that all of our thoughts and prayers are being directed towards Jesse's wife, family and friends. 

Respectfully, David Hoffman

Principal, Island Park Elementary 

Mike Lewis August 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
That's exactly what everyone is telling us, Anne. He was loved by his family, students, staff, teachers and administrators alike. -- Mike Lewis, Patch Regional Editor
Gail Steinitz August 20, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I was Jesse's co-director and co-founder of Co-Motion Dance and his friend and colleague for 34 years. Besides our professional concerts we travelled the entire state creating dance education programs and teaching and performing in about 2000 school and I can honestly say he was loved by all! He was devoted to the well being and education of children. He was an excellent teacher with high values and dignity and taught with a lot of joy and humor. He loved teaching on Mercer Island. He loved the students,teachers,administration and parents' support. I know his legacy of respect, dignity and love of learning with joy will live on. Gail Heilbron
Stella August 20, 2012 at 03:11 AM
No one could match his kindness. He touched my heart so many times, you wouldn't believe it. I used to ask him, "What are we doing in P.E. next?" He ALWAYS said, "Ask me tomorrow." or whenever the next P.E. class was. :'( He was always my favorite teacher and no one could replace him. ~Stella Sisson
Theresa August 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM
I am so sorry for your loss. I knew Jesse from North Texas. A long time ago. I know you had a long association with him. He was a remarkable fellow. I am saddened today when I heard this news (through Melanie Kanna). Thoughts and prayers to all. So sad. (Not sure if you remember me from Seattle dancing days...but I remember you and your dancing with Jesse) Theresa Knox
Julia Hensley August 27, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I am shocked and so very sad to hear of Jesse's passing. He was my first modern dance teacher and along with Gail Heilbron introduced me to a new world of movement. I had lost touch with him but remember fondly the many hours in the dance studio, his remarkable teaching and the gift of movement he helped to unlock for me and I know for so many others. I know he must have been amazing with kids and I am so sorry they have lost this amazing teacher and person in their lives. Warm thoughts and condolences to all who knew Jesse.


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