HARRISON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – On Tuesday, Robert Walker, a Harrison County Schools Safety and Wellness Coordinator was one of two inaugural winners of a new award for school support staff.
He was emotional while accepting the award, and even said his students saved his life. WTVQ sat down with him to learn why.
Walker says his students saved him from himself and a life of crime after years of not believing he was good enough to succeed.
“I had a lot of anger in me for years,” Walker said.
He said when he was in sixth grade, his middle school teacher in Harrison County used corporal punishment on him often, and even told him he would never go to college because he used to fail spelling tests and seemed to have a bit of a behavioral problem.
“I didn’t care for school because it was hard for me,” Walker said. “I couldn’t understand why my brother and sister could read something one time and it takes me three or four times to get it right.”
Much later, after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with two degrees and coming back home to work for Harrison County Schools, Walker realized what the issue was all those years.
“I saw some kids being tested,” Walker said. At the time, I didn’t know what they were doing.”
He found out it was a diagnostic test to check for learning disabilities.
“And I thought maybe I should get something like that done with me because I know something’s not right,” Walker said.
He took the test and discovered he has ADD and dyslexia.
“I just needed to know I wasn’t dumb,” Walker said, with tears in his eyes. “I knew something was wrong.”
Walker ran into his former teacher one day at work and she remembered him well.
“I said, ‘not one time did you take the time to ask me what was going on at home,’” Walker recalled. “‘I could have been a lawyer or a doctor, but you didn’t take the time out to get to know me.’”
Walker says that moment changed both their lives – allowing him to heal, and her to seek redemption.
The teacher has since died, but Walker says he’ll never forget the tough lesson she taught him – never give up.
“A lot of kids if you tell them they aren’t good enough, they may not do like I did,” Walker said. “They may not care if they prove you wrong. I’m here to tell every kid they can do it.”
Walker says it warms his heart that after working for the district for 23 years, former students still text and call to remind him of his impact.