PE teacher affirms her mantra as she returns from stroke

Do Better. Be Better. Smith familyBy: Skylar Starbeck

Last year, physical education teacher Jamie Smith suffered an abrupt stroke, and as she was recovering in the hospital, she was pregnant with her fourth child. Her child is currently healthy and was born on April 7. The new addition to the Smith family makes a total of four daughters at home, and Smith lives in a strong manner to influence her daughters with her story.

As her recovery process continues, she strives to compete with herself to get better. With school support, Smith’s road to recovery has made her endurance to get stronger even greater. She said she is so grateful to have such a strong support system on her back. With many friends and families encouraging her, Smith is back at the high school teaching physical education.

One class she specifically teaches, cross training, is an intense workout of cardio, kickboxing and strength exercises. Smith loves the intensity of the class and is still able to demonstrate technique while teaching. She always encourages students to better themselves to get stronger. The dedication she has is as if she never had a stroke, and students have noted her passion to teach others is so incredibly inspiring.

Smith said, “I have had a very positive outlook on my situation. I will never deny that it has been very scary and incredibly challenging, but I made a choice in the ER after we were told I was hemorrhaging that I was going to fight and NEVER let my stroke define me. My goal has been to always learn from every hard moment I have and come out better on the side of it. I fear being pitied, so I have striven for my experiences and my condition to be viewed in a positive light. I realize that begins with me. People have responded to my honesty and positivity.”

Before her stroke had happened, Smith was in great shape and very healthy. The stroke was a shock to herself and others. She attended Next Level Fitness, which is an intense workout program where she has picked up on teaching cross training, but the recovery from her stroke has been an even greater teacher.

“This experience has completely changed me. I may not like the physical changes, but I love how I have grown spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I am not perfect; I still get caught up in things I shouldn’t, but the difference is that I am able to realize much quicker that life is about way more than what I am stressing about. I have learned to be more compassionate, understanding and giving,” Smith said.

“Much of that I credit to my support system, or my army, as I now call them. There are so many good people in this world; people who work very hard to believe in the good and be the good in this world. I am blessed to know many of them. I would not be where I am today without all of them. It is ironic to me that I get praised for the ‘Do Better.  Be Better’ motto when it was inspired by the people in my army.”

During her hospital time, she would write Facebook posts about her process. Her friends and family then encouraged her to create a blog. Smith’s blog is called “Do Better. Be Better.” She has big intentions for herself and shows that through her many blogs. She wanted to share how strong she was and also how tough her battle also was. She encourages that the community goes and checks out her blog to inspire others.

“I am motivated to stay healthy because I very clearly understand that being so saved my life and gave me a leg up in my recovery process. I realize that diseases do not discriminate; it could happen to any of us, whether you take care of yourself or not. So, why wouldn’t I want to give myself the best shot I can at making sure that I survive it?” Smith asked.

“Life can change in an instant. Sometimes those changes are in your control and sometimes they are not. However, you ALWAYS have the choice as to how you respond. You CAN rewrite your own story. It is absolutely amazing where life can take you if you are willing to fight for the story line you dream of living.”

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