Alabama Teacher Returns to Work Following Rehabilitation for Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
Charles Miller, 27, of Oxford, Ala., returned to the classroom in January 2014, once more teaching science to seventh graders at Oxford Middle School. It’s a dream that didn’t appear likely when Charles crashed his motorcycle on July 6, 2012.
He spent five weeks on life support with an incomplete T-6 spinal cord injury, broken bones and internal injuries, such as punctured lungs. Eventually, Charles began breathing on his own again. One of his student’s parents knew about Shepherd Center and helped get Charles admitted at the hospital for rehabilitation.
“I could talk forever about the people who worked with me at Shepherd Center,” Charles said. “They didn’t just heal my body; they got my mind right. It really is total rehabilitation. They keep you motivated, but they also make you feel comfortable being there. It’s like the people who work there aren’t at work! They laugh and joke. It’s like being at their home.”
Along with his wife Shametra, Charles’ students have also kept him driven, he said. Charles decorated his room at Shepherd Center with the hundreds of cards he received from students at his school. “Even last Christmas, I decorated my tree with lots of those cards,” Charles recalled. “In hard times, I still go back and read those. I’m telling you, the love of a child is unconditional.”
Now, he’s back for his fifth year of teaching, sharing the wonders of science with a new class of students. “As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world,” he said. “It taught me what’s important. It’s brought me closer to my family, and this community has just shone through the rough times. It’s been life-changing in far different ways than I first anticipated.”
Written by Phillip Jordan
Photos Courtesy of Charles Miller
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.