After years of chasing a music career, Topher Sisson packs...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

October 06, 1991|By Mary Corey

After years of chasing a music career, Topher Sisson packs 0) his bags, heads home

What happens to a musician who debuts at a strip joint on the Block?

If you're Topher Sisson, you move to California, sell a few songs to A&M Records and perform with Toni Childs. Then a dozen years later -- after spending too many nights "sleeping in Motel Sixes next to drummers that snore" -- you decide it's time to come home.

So that's where Mr. Sisson is now, leading a double life of sorts as manager of the family-owned Sisson's Restaurant and Brewery while continuing to write music and play the guitar in the studio of his South Baltimore home.

"I'm still trying to get that song I was after when I was 8," says Mr. Sisson, 36.

The transition hasn't been easy, especially since he's faced an image problem. People keep referring to him as "the other brother" of Hugh Sisson, the high-profile general manager of the restaurant.

But Topher (short for Christopher) doesn't seem to mind: "He's a businessman. I'm just a songwriter."

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or call (301) 332-6156.

It was a personal honor that Eleanor Matthews received last month from the National Council of Negro Women, but to hear her talk you'd think she was standing in for the entire teaching profession.

"It was great of the council and Shell Oil [a sponsor] to recognize my profession," said the French teacher and head of the foreign language department at Western High School. "Not many do recognize teachers these days."

Ms. Matthews was chosen from more than 100 nominees to receive the NCNW's second annual national "Excellence in Teaching" award. The award, presented last month at the National Black Family Reunion Celebration in Washington, Acarried with it a $5,000 check and cited Ms. Matthews for "inspir [ing] a high level of achievement among African-American students."

A Baltimore native who has taught for 10 years at Western, Ms. Matthews, 47, grew up in Hoes' Heights, a neighborhood just a stone's throw from Western, and now lives in her childhood home.

The biggest problem she sees today in city schools is large class size. But she thinks the right attitude in teaching can overcome ++ this.

"We have to educate the whole child," she emphasized. "I believe in first the child, then the subject matter. Being a teacher is a lot more than just teaching a subject."

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Randi Henderson

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