March 2019: Once the Patient, Now the Teacher

tags: Center for Brain Injury Recovery Schools and Education

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Today I am joined by Dr. Beth Slomine, co-director of our Center for Brain Injury Recovery at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Dr. Beth Slomine: I first met Amy when she first came to Kennedy Krieger Institute for inpatient rehabilitation, right after brain surgery. She’s a young woman who always wanted to help others. Amy began to struggle academically in high school. There was no clear reason for these difficulties and Amy just worked harder, graduating high school and beginning community college with the goal of becoming a teacher. In the fall of her first semester in college, 9 days after her 18th birthday, Amy was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required immediate surgery. She slowly recovered with therapy, but she was still struggling with organization and planning.

A photo of Amy Dykes

Amy had always been involved with 4H and while working on organization and planning an outpatient speech therapy, she created a 4H project on brain tumors to help others learn about this very rare condition. Amy never let go of her dream and persisted in school, continued to recover and eventually earned her teaching degree. She taught at a local public school for two years and then an opportunity opened up to teach children with disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Amy jumped at the chance. Amy believed that she would not be where she is today without the comprehensive support she received through her rehabilitation treatment at Kennedy Krieger.

As a teacher, Amy uses her experience from brain trauma to recovery in her teaching every day. She remembers the interdisciplinary team that surrounded her throughout her recovery and she carries that philosophy into her classroom, where she strives to create the same level of support and encouragement for her students as well. Amy inspires me by her persistence in working towards the goal to be a teacher, despite the adversity she experienced as an adolescent and by the commitment to transform her own experience to compassionately and skillfully help children in need.

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Inspiring moments is produced by WYPR by Kennedy Krieger Institute. I am Dr. Jacqueline Stone.