Former Guilford Co. teacher talks about 2007 attack and recovery

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A former Guilford County teacher says he can relate all too closely to the Dudley High School teacher who was attacked Wednesday.

In 2007, a 15-year-old special education student attacked Rocky LaRocco, dislodging his eye and breaking two ribs and knee cap.

LaRocco remembers the assault like it was just yesterday.

“I couldn’t see anything in either eye. I tried to grab for his t-shirt and couldn’t get it. Then his weight and mine shifted left. I heard and felt my knee snap,” said the former teacher.

LaRocco retired from his 23-year education career after the attack.

Through physical therapy, he slowly regained comfortable movement, but realized he needed to get in better shape. Rocky weighed 300 pounds at the time.

“I was slowly dying. I was diabetic on insulin, I was on Zoloft for depression, had high blood pressure, the works. All because of that extra weight,” said LaRocco.

In a way, he feels, the physical therapy as a result of the attack saved his life.

Not wanting to be tied up in the education system any longer, Rocky started a gym in Jamestown. He targets older clients but welcomes anyone who wants to get fit. He now openly uses his traumatic experience to inspire others.

Rocky admits he is disgusted but not surprised to hear of Wednesday’s attack at Dudley High School.

“These days, students pretty much, they can get away with anything. And they know it,” said LaRocco. “When I went to school you had respect taught to you at home and consequences for them. Then at school you’d get in trouble also. We’re just not serving students in the right way anymore.”

LaRocco hopes Dudley High teacher Wole Ajala can forgive and move on like he has.

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