Princeton Public Schools Athletic Director John Miranda passed away suddenly on Sunday, August 28, 2016.
Miranda, a veteran Marine of the Gulf War and part of Operation Desert Storm, started as a business education teacher at PHS after returning from multiple tours of duty in Iraq in 1992. He taught Word Processing, Integrated Computer Applications, Web Page Design, and Personal Finance.
From there he went on to serve as the head coach of PHS’s baseball team from 1996 to 2004. However, he was not able to coach in 2002 because he was called again to duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom. After his return, he was eventually promoted to Athletic Director for the district from 2005 until his death in 2016.
Among PHS students, faculty, and staff, Miranda is remembered for his engagement in and passion for both high school and middle school sports. His lifelong learning, having applied to a doctoral program at Temple University while coaching at PHS, coupled with his generosity and sense of humor were uniformly appreciated.Many in the Princeton community and beyond are deeply saddened by the news of Miranda’s death, as well as shocked by its suddenness.
Physical Education teacher Matthew Wilkinson, who had known Miranda for over 20 years, first met him when the he was a business education teacher in 1992.
“I was out working on my farm, and my wife walked out and told me that he’d died,” Wilkinson said. “[My reaction was] shock. I mean, he was one year older than I am.”
Paul Cooke ’18 met Miranda in 2014 through the baseball team, as Miranda attended many of its games and practices, even after he stopped coaching.
“I heard on the first day of school [that Miranda had died],” Cooke said. “I was sad because he was a great man, and he was pretty vital to the PHS atmosphere.”
Furthermore, PHS faculty also remember Miranda as a kind, engaged, and effective leader who was deeply involved in all aspects of the athletic department, as well as a friend to students and teachers alike.
“He was always a very upbeat person, always had a smile on his face. He always put a smile on my face. If he ever saw I was looking glum, he’d ask what’s going on,” said Business Education instructor Lisa Bergman. “His favorite thing was, he would say, ‘So what did you have for dinner last night?’ If I looked a little tired, ‘You’re looking tired today, what did you have for dinner last night?’ And if I said something like leftovers, ‘You see, that’s why you look so tired!’ But he tried to just say something fun, something nice, try to cheer you up.”
“And he was supportive of not only people, but what they found enjoyable,” Wilkinson said. “He had a distinct love for baseball, but he understood [that] everybody had love for [every] sport.”
All around, Miranda’s legacy is seen by students and faculty in the small acts of kindness most memorable in their stories of him.
“I remember in my freshman year, we were coming off a really tough loss in the Mercer County Tournament,” Cooke said. “He actually came into my Spanish class and pulled me aside and told me, ‘Don’t worry about it; get the next one.’ So [I remembered] just how friendly he was and how he made everyone feel more respected.”
“He and I stood on the front lawn together during the new student orientation picnic, talking with excitement about the upcoming school year,” said PHS Principal Gary Snyder. “I will remember him for his love of PHS athletics, his devotion to his family, and for his service to our country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.”
Miranda is survived by his wife and three sons, all of whom are PHS graduates.