He started in a segregated school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was teased by the other kids because he was a teacher's pet. They didn't realize that was Thomas's way of trying to get extra help from his teachers because he wasn't learning to read. Following desegregation, Thomas was bussed for his final elementary, junior high and high school years. The white kids accepted and befriended Thomas. Well, at least those who didn't mind his being the teacher's pet. He played sports and was popular in school, but that didn't help his reading. Neither did special education. He didn't get to finish high school because he was drafted and sent to Vietnam as a member of the Army's highly honored 101st Airborne Division. His work there didn't require him to read. That was a good thing because he couldn't. Neither did the several jobs he worked diligently over the following decades. Of course, he was stuck in those jobs because he couldn't pass a test to get a promotion. Thomas likes to say, "You can be a good jockey, but you need a good horse and education is that horse." He got an education. He was just never taught to read.