HomeEditors' PicksBeloved CHS coach and teacher honored with scholarship

Beloved CHS coach and teacher honored with scholarship

Published May 10, 2024

BY SHAYLA DUTTA

Many students at Carmel High School come and go. Some who are particularly inspired–or particularly troublesome–leave behind a legacy that lasts beyond their four years here. A select few return as teachers or staff. But it takes a unique level of devotion and generosity to create an impact that lasts more than 60 years past one’s graduation.

It’s a feat that might only be attributed to former CHS student, teacher and coach Jeff Wright.

In addition to teaching, Wright (center) served as a coach for the CHS football team for many years. (courtesy of KIM WRIGHT)

Known to most as Coach Wright, the 1964 graduate returned to his alma mater in 1987 to begin a teaching career that lasted more than three decades and created change in the lives of students and colleagues alike. So much so that Wright even officiated the weddings of several current CHS teachers.

“Jeff Wright was very friendly and genuinely interested in students,” recalls CHS dance teacher Kristine Tarozzi. “He always made time to talk to students and staff alike. He was truly a fan of CHS.”

Wright, who taught health and history in addition to coaching football and girls’ soccer, as well as mentoring teachers who came to CHS after him, passed away Dec. 24. In honor of his life, the Carmel High School Red Cross club hosted a blood drive earlier this semester in his name. Now, the Carmel High School Foundation plans to develop a scholarship fund specifically for students who first attend Monterey Peninsula College and transfer to a four-year college, as both Wright and his wife did.

According to CHS English teacher Dale DePalaitis, the teachers on the CHSF board thought it would be a fitting way to honor someone who had such a marvelous impact on this community.

“He was one of the teachers that wanted to connect students with the content,” says CHS teacher Bridget Randazzo, who had Wright as a teacher, colleague and wedding officiant. “But he really wanted to get to know every student as well. In that sense, he really was a role model for me, for moving into being a teacher of building relationships.”

Jeff and Kim Wright chaperoned many CHS proms together and dressed for the occasion. (courtesy of KIM WRIGHT)

That sentiment is shared by CHS English teacher Lillian Owens, who also had Wright as a health teacher. The instructor fondly recalls the lengths to which Wright would go to drive home a lesson, such as taping a Twinkie to his whiteboard for years to illustrate the dangers of processed foods. Wright’s special ability, according to Owens, was the way he connected with his students.

“I watched him remember others in a way that was so very genuine,” Owens says. “People need people like that in their lives, especially in high school, when it’s so easy to feel unseen at times. It takes an artist to see and know and truly remember 100 or more students per year. Coach Wright had that magic.”

Several times, Wright got to see the students he mentored in high school return as colleagues and friends.

“I first had Coach Wright as a health teacher,” Randazzo explained, “and so having that relationship transfer over to my work life was really special.”

Whether they counted him a close friend or a distant acquaintance, those who knew him all agree on one thing: No one loved Carmel High School more than Jeff Wright.

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