Teachers Heroes

Anne Sullivan

by Regina from San Diego

Anne (
Anne (

"Triumph over a dark and sordid environment and terrible poverty". This is how lauded by The New York Times, Anne Sullivan was recognized for liberating her spirit and bringing light to one in a double prison of darkness and silence. Sullivan, a poor orphan girl who suffer a menacing and threatening childhood accomplished what no one believed to be possible; teaching a blind-deaf child (Helen Keller) to speak and complete her education. It's undoubtedly Anne’s incredibly moral strong character and courage; which helped her overcome her menacing childhood, the most prevailing trait that makes her indeed a deserving hero. Anne was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Growing up, she was subject to poverty and physical abuse by her alcoholic father. At the age of five, she was struck by trachoma, affecting her vision to almost leaving her blind. Soon after her mother died, she was sent by her father to an orphanage in Tewksbury with her brother Jimmy; where he died three months later from tuberculosis.

Anne Sullivan with Hellen Keller
Anne Sullivan with Hellen Keller

Sufferer was always part of Anne's life; impaired vision, and some trauma caused by her early life experiences, but with courage she always stood up to her own suffering and exceeded her personal limitations: “Unexpected good has filled the chinks of frustration in my life. But at times melancholy without reason grips me as in a vice” (Sullivan). Despite everything, Anne wanted to receive education; she had a strong desire for knowledge and to accomplish greater matters in life. But it wasn't until the age of nine when the inspector of the Tewksbury house came; she threw herself at him and pleaded to attend school. Facing the challenge of a new school, Anne had some hardships adapting to her new school. She went through very difficult and challenging times trying to fit in due to her lack of social skills. At times, girls made fun of her for not being able to pronounce the simplest words. Anne was frightened, but this made her mature and more determined to succeed, putting extra amounts of hard work to her studies. “Very much of what I remember about Tewksbury is indecent, cruel, melancholy, gruesome in the light of grown-up experience; but nothing corresponding with my present understanding of these ideas entered my child mind.” (Entering Tewksbury Almshouse). Her astonishing moral strong character and her determined commitment to succeed her apparent obstacles, demonstrated the greater power of success over failure.

All her effort and hard work paid off eventually when she graduated as class valedictorian in 1886 from the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Sullivan definitely became a true and compassionate pioneer of education: “I have endured much physical pain, and I can feel real pity for anyone who suffers. The misfortunes of the disinherited of the world rouse in me not only compassion but a fierce indignation”(Sullivan). After her formal education, she began teaching Helen Keller. Serving as her lifelong teacher Anne continued to assist Helen by accompanying her on various lecture tours and worldly travels. Anne demonstrates throughout her entire life that having impaired vision or any physical body disadvantage does not keep you from achieving your dreams.

Toward the end of her life she received recognition from Temple University, the Educational Institute of Scotland, and the Roosevelt Memorial foundation for her tireless teaching and commitment to Helen Keller. It's Anne’s incredibly moral strong character and courage, what helped her overcome her menacing childhood, undoubtedly one of the most prevailing heroic traits she possesses. As Anne wrote: "I doubt if life or for that matter eternity is long enough to erase the terrors and ugly blots scored upon my mind during those dismal years from 8 to 14”(Sullivan). She believed in something bigger than her disabilities, further than her terrifying past, she believed in success and standing up firmly to achieve her dreams. Most importantly Anne Sullivan had the courage to make it happen; she achieved her goals and dedicated her life to the improve the life of others. Through small, selfless acts of will, Anne Sullivan brings together the traits of a complete and deserving hero.

Director of Tewksbury House (
Director of Tewksbury House (

Works Cited

Anne Sullivan Macy. AFB American Foundation, n.d. Web. 31 Mar 2011.

“Anne Sullivan Macy." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 20. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.

“Anne Sullivan Macy." World of Health. Gale, 2006. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.

Women in History. Annie Sullivan biography. Presented by Lakewood Public Library, 3/31/2011. Web. 31 Mar 2011.

Annie M. Sullivan. 2002-2009© AMS Foundation, Inc., n.d. Web.

Page created on 4/29/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/29/2011 12:00:00 AM

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