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Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Just a Thought" Column in La Prensa of San Antonio, 1-13

Just a Thought: Memoirs of a “Dumb Kid” pt. 2
By Steve Walker

In last week’s debut column, “Just a Thought” I shared many of my memories growing up labeled a “Dumb Kid.”  I also pointed out that was not unique to me, since I discovered many of my former students and their friends suffered the same indignation I experienced growing up.

I address the problem because it is a serious issue many young people are forced to deal with growing up that sometimes has serious and deadly repercussions. With all the recent shootings of elementary school students and other schools around the country, it is obviously a problem. I would point out being called names and suffering putdowns like I suffered does not automatically translate to crime and retribution on others. Sometimes it causes us to reevaluate and use the experience as a learning situation for good.

I reiterate that baring my soul is a healing process on my own history of suffering, rejection and verbal putdowns. I feel comfortable sharing my pain with others that they may realize they are not alone in this.

In my 26-year teaching career which I alluded to last week, I mentioned that I encountered many students and others coping with the same affliction of low self esteem and rejection. It appears to be universal.

What is particularly sad is that many of the negative comments made to them and me were not necessarily from people who didn’t like us. Many well intended individuals say things all the time that they do not think are negative and have no clue that they are wounding someone they actually care deeply for in this world.

Many seem to believe that they are protecting us from disappointment rather than hurting us. Well intended but hurtful just the same. For the record this is simply a historical narrative, not a pity party.

When I was in grade school at a local Catholic School where I attended three and a half years from 1956-1960, I was stood up in front of the class one day by the well-intended nun who was my teacher. As an 8th grader, the Sister asked the class to pray to St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases for me.

She actually said, “Let’s pray for Steve to St. Jude. He is a hopeless case.” That made my day I can assure you. It will live in my memory until the day I die. When I am really old (optimistic) I may forget most everything but not that incident! I will also admit to this day, St. Jude is not my favorite saint! That one still smarts even as I write this recollection. Ouch!

But I got over that one until as a junior in a public school in Massachusetts; the counselor informed my father I wasn’t smart enough to graduate high school! Surprisingly, I over came that one as well. As a poster boy for low expectations, I have done exceedingly better than predicted.

As a college graduate with a Master’s Degree, I served 30 years in the Army Reserve, was elected to the Balcones Heights Council for eight years and the President of the Harlandale ISD Federation of Teachers. And the best of all, I am a columnist for La Prensa!

I only share my experience to encourage others who have suffered the same fate. I believe it is not where we start but where we end when all is said and done.

As always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace. His La Prensa column “Ask the Judge,” ran for two years.

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