Teacher Jason Picetti dies after four-year battle with ALS


Jason Picetti, who taught math at La Entrada School in Menlo Park until illness forced him to retire, died peacefully early this morning (Oct. 13) at Kaiser hospital in Santa Clara, with his wife, father and brother-in-law by his side, according to a close friend. Mr. Picetti was 42.

A celebration of his life is set for Saturday, Oct. 22, in the La Entrada School gym, according to his friend Robin Tobias.

Mr. Picetti had declined intervention for pneumonia when he was admitted to the hospital earlier this week, Ms. Tobias said.

Mr. Picetti, whose story was told in an article in the March 31, 2009, edition of the Almanac, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in February 2008. ALS is a neurogenerative disease affecting the nerve cells that control muscle movement.

The diagnosis sent the La Entrada School community, as well as his circle of family and friends, into a tumult of disbelief and sorrow. Married less than two years to fellow La Entrada teacher Fehmeen Khan, the man who had never taken a sick day off from the classroom seemed the most unlikely candidate for a fatal illness.

The couple had a daughter, Emma, who shared a birthday with her father. Emma is now 3 years old.

Mr. Picetti's last year of teaching math was 2008. His students' learning experience went far beyond algebra. They were given a lesson in courage, which Mr. Picetti taught them by example.

In 2009 he accompanied his wife, a sixth-grade teacher, to school most days, spending much of his time in Room 25, where teachers come to visit and play cards on their breaks and former students drop by to talk.

He also started a blog "The Adventures of ALS Boy." He posted his last entry on Oct. 4.

On the blog, Mr. Picetti described himself in this way: "In his days prior to wearing the cape and cowl of the Amazing, Inspiring and Adventurous ALS Boy, Jason Picetti's not-so-secret identities included weekend warrior rock star, enthusiastic and motivating middle school math teacher, and all-around decent guy.

"While still a decent guy, he has been battling the evil forces of ALS since being diagnosed in February of 2008. Never one to shy away from a good fight, Jason has been combining the healing forces of western medicine, alternative medicine, a positive and never-give-up attitude and mindset, and the love and prayers and support of his incredible family and friends to win the toughest battle of his life."

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Like this comment
Posted by Val Herman
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Mr P was greatly loved by so many students, his colleagues, friends and of course, his family. My two older boys had him for math-with Mr P they found not only a great teacher but a true friend. Jason-Rest in Peace.

Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Pont
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Although my children never had the privilege of taking math from Mr. Picetti, they both love Mrs. Picetti. Her bravery these past four years has also been truly inspiring. We are thinking of you Fehmeen.

Like this comment
Posted by Roseanne
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Jason is a true inspiration, as is his wonderful wife. He will be missed greatly.

Like this comment
Posted by Ongko family
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Two of our children were both in Mr and Mrs Picettis' classes many years ago. My children had fond memories. We wish all the best to the Picetti's. It's been 2 years since we moved to Singapore......Mr P you will always be remembered! RIP

Like this comment
Posted by John R.
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2011 at 1:58 am

I went to school with Jason from K-12. I remember him playing 'The Entertainer' on the piano for a talent show in the fourth grade at Allen Elementary which made me take up piano lessons so I could be like him. He was everyone's friend and always had a smile on his face. So sorry to hear that something like this happened to such a nice guy.

Like this comment
Posted by Galvin Family
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

While our children never had Mr Picetti as a classroom teacher, they learned so much from his valiant fight against this awful disease. Jason leaves an incredible legacy, an incredible wife and daughter behind. He will be missed dearly but always remembered.

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