Teacher: Greg Sanders owned up to his mistake

Greg-SandersBy Vinny Pezzimenti

In the aftermath of sharing “The Mystery of Greg Sanders” piece, we’ve received tremendous feedback from alumni, supporters, classmates, teammates, and others who knew Greg during his time at St. Bonaventure.

I even spoke with Jim Baron and Essie Hollis after finally catching up with Greg. I will share a few of their thoughts later this week.

Yet, my favorite reaction to the Sanders’ articles was contained in an email I received the other day. It was from Wendy Speroni Smith, who was Greg’s supervising teacher when he student taught at an Olean elementary school.

She wrote:

He was a student teacher in my third grade class. I specifically asked for him as I felt he would be such a role model for my students. Trust me when I say I was not disappointed.

He reached out to all the students but really connected with the students that did not have the best of home situations. He always was energetic, professional and, if you remember, dressed to the nines.

He was with us the first semester of the school year. He got all the students front row seats to a game and acknowledged them throughout the game. What a thrill it was for all of us.

My point in writing this is that when he stole those pants he let many people down and my students were crestfallen. Remember, he was the closest thing they had ever come to a celebrity and they had so many questions.

He was no longer student teaching with me but I called him and asked him if he would come back to my students and talk to them about the incident. I was not sure that he would, but to make a long story short he did come back.

He answered all of the students’ questions and accepted full responsibility. The lessons that he taught in the first semester did not even come close to the lessons he taught that day. He talked about mistakes and facing consequences. He talked about owning up to mistakes and learning from them.

I was not sure how he would react to my request, but in the end he did not disappoint. I know that my kids learned a lot, but honestly it took a special man to own up to his mistake and to face one of the groups of his life that heralded him as a hero.

I was very impressed with his honesty to them and his humbleness. That is a word that was not often used to describe Greg.

She concluded: “If I have a vote I do feel that his jersey should be retired. He was a wonderful role model for my students.”


Categories: Editorial


  1. I can’t understand how the school has turned their back on him. Last week it was a “real mystery” to his whereabouts. It took Vinny like 2 days to find him. I don’t think there was any real effort and that’s a shame.

  2. wendy speroni smith talked about greg’s honesty and humbleness…i can’t think of a more appropriate place than the oldest franciscan university in the u.s. to honor those traits…time to retire greg’s number…and to read wendy’s letter before hoisting his number to the rafters…

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