We needed… a school psychologist

That was probably when I also was group director of the class of ‘91, or at least half it, but when they were in 6o, Primero Bachillerato… oh what a difficult age to go through.   They were only 11 years old right?   We are talking about Freddy Sanabria, Uri Szapiro, Oded Gutman, Marky Rausch, Judith Saye, Nattan Nisimblatt, Jonathan Guberek… and well, you get the idea.

I will tell my father to throw you out of the school!

One day Jonathan was upset with me.  Perhaps he had failed a quiz or an exam.  “I am going to tell my father (who was on the Junta) to throw you out of the school!”

“Please tell your father that I want to speak with him,” I told him.  Whether he did or not, I don’t know, but I never heard another word about it.  Later on we made peace, and Jonathan’s parents asked me to give him private classes at home.  And now, Jonathan is another success story with a heart of gold.  You can be sure I also made a point to go to HIS wedding, not in Minnesota. In Barranquilla. God bless all these ladies who grew up to marry my students!

School Psychologist

So my solution was to take the student with the most difficulties for any given day to the office of the school psychologist, Martha Amaya de Castro.  I got to know Martha rather well because I was in her office EVERY DAY with somebody.  One day, it was Freddy.  Another day, Judith (not because she was misbehaving.  I think the others were bullying her). Another day, Jonathan.  Another day, Uri?  Marky?  I lost track.  Don’t get me wrong.  You must understand that I was not the person in need of psychological attention! At the age of 11, these kids were going through a rough time!

There was a student from another class, our good friend Sandra Reines, who would also visit Martha Amaya’s office every day, not because she needed any special advice, but because she needed to smoke a cigarette! Martha began to get frantic.  What if they find out??  They will fire me! (They didn’t).

June, 1986, last Friday of the school year.  Major shakeup in the school, and I lost half of my teachers, the school lost half of its teachers, a day after left Colombia for my vacation in New York.  Martha Amaya kept her job.  I heard about the turnover from two of my former students, Leon Camhi and Luis Brandwayn, in the offices of the New York Times in New York!  We were getting a tour of the institution.

Why was it important?   I was on my way to Israel!