I had lunch today with a former student, David Stoughton, from my first year as a teacher. David has turned his high school landscaping business in Maryland into a burgeoning real estate enterprise in the Triad area of North Carolina. He started it out in his parents’ garage of course.
Our lunch was in the oldest building in downtown Greensboro, which he owns, at the Liberty Oak restaurant, rated one of the best in the South by Southern Living magazine.
The owner of Liberty Oak is from Italy. I met him today as well.
Many years ago he was driving a cab in Italy and his passenger was an American businessman from Greensboro, North Carolina, who was gregarious and loquacious about his love of his hometown.
“Eddie” Gramisci was sold and somehow made it to Greensboro where he cleaned the bathrooms at New York Pizza, a local chain.
He now owns all of the New York Pizza places in the Triad, as well as Liberty Oak. He also owns other restaurants from the Piedmont to Myrtle Beach. Eddie also owns Ferraris… So these things still happen.
I taught David Trigonometry. I came in mid year to teach at my old high school. I was back from Austin, TX for the holidays and wasn’t going back. A teacher had unexpectedly left mid year and the Headmaster asked if I wanted to finish the year out teaching math. The Headmaster was my uncle, who had been my math teacher and basketball coach when I was in high school.
I taught for the Spring term and I loved it. Coached some baseball too.
On one of my first days in class I was checking homework. When I got to David, his books were closed and he said, while rising up out of his chair to tower over me at 6’8″ (it’s all blurry to me once someone is 6’3″ or more), “I didn’t do my homework. What are you going to do about it?”
Not only is he tall, but he is as strong as an ox. Legend has it that he actually once saved a guy’s life, stopping at an accident scene and lifting up a car to allow others to drag the guy out.
In a split second every tactic I had ever witnessed a teacher use to assert authority flashed through my mind. Nothing would quite fit this moment. Then David smiled and said, “just kidding, here it is.”
And there it was.
I remember talking to his parents at a parent teacher conference about this moment. They were kind of embarrassed, but I went on, “so then I checked his homework and he doesn’t use any of the steps I show in class but he gets it right, and I can follow his steps and they make sense. It’s really neat and methodical but it’s like his own kind of poetry.”
“Yes, that sounds like David.”
And as he smiled and joked at lunch today I remembered that first challenge. Such a cheerful guy, who is writing his own entrepreneurial poetry.
After lunch he took me over to another office building on the main corner of downtown Greensboro. As we walked in it dawned on me, “wait, you own this too?!”
“Shhhhh!,” he said, “everyone just thinks I’m a maintenance guy.”
It was a good lunch.


One thought on “Lunch

  1. WOW!!!

    Madlyn G. McPherson Sixth Grade English Language Arts Burleigh Manor Middle School Ellicott City, Maryland 21042 ________________________________

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