Teachers Heroes

Annie Sullivan

by Katelyn from San Diego

"The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me." – Helen Keller
Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller (
Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller (

A young adult teacher, Annie Sullivan dedicated her life to assist her blind, deaf, and mute student, Helen Keller, strive towards becoming successful in her future. The life of Annie Sullivan was inspiring because she helped Helen Keller succeed even though Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and mute. When Sullivan was by Keller’s side, Sullivan changed how Keller interacted with the world around her. An influencing hero and teacher changed her student’s life due to her presence as Keller’s role model, dedication, and reliability.

Annie Sullivan as a young girl  (
Annie Sullivan as a young girl (

Sullivan was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. As a young a child, she faced hardships in her family and had to deal with her eye infection that left her partially blind. At a young age, her mother passed away from tuberculosis. When she passed away, Sullivan was left alone with her father, an abusive, drunk man. Later, Sullivan and her brother were sent to the county poorhouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. During their stay, Sullivan’s brother, Jimmie, died from tuberculosis hip. Sullivan was left alone at the poorhouse, but later she wanted to go to school. During the time she went to school, she underwent eye surgery that gave back some of her vision. Sullivan entered Perkins School for the Blind. When Sullivan grew up to a young adult, Michael Anagnos, Director of the Perkins School for the Blind asked Annie if she was interested in working for the Keller family in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Annie was interested, so she traveled to Tuscumbia by train. There, she met the Keller family and her student, Helen Keller. Sullivan assisted Keller from the day she arrived to the day she died on October 20, 1936 in Forest Hills, New York. By staying by Keller’s side, Sullivan opened a path to success for Keller.

Sullivan and Keller working together as one (
Sullivan and Keller working together as one (

The dedication of learning the outside world unlocked many accesses to being able to successfully achieve many accomplishments. As soon as Sullivan arrived to Keller’s house in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and found out that Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and mute, Sullivan began teaching Keller finger-spelling. "She went straight to work teaching Helen how to read, write, speak, and most importantly, how to understand the world around her" (Sarah from Montvale). The day of Sullivan’s arrival, Keller soon started to learn finger-spelling and began to understand that every object around her has a meaning and a name. After a short period since the day Sullivan arrived, Sullivan and Keller went to live in a cottage on the Keller’s property. After many weeks, Sullivan was successful in teaching Keller to learn and understand that every object has a meaning and a name. "In 1900, Keller entered Radcliffe. Sullivan attended classes with her, spelling the instructors' lectures into Keller's hand and reading textbooks to her for hours, despite her own poor eyesight" (Jennifer Mossman). When Keller was successful in learning finger-spelling, she attended school. Sullivan went to classes with Keller and helped Keller succeed in school by finger-spelling in Keller’s hand everything that was going on in the classroom. Not did only Keller learn finger-spelling, she was also taught to speak as well. This shows Sullivan’s dedication and courage to put in her time to help and teach Keller so that she could be successful in her future.

Young Keller and Sullivan  (
Young Keller and Sullivan (

Sullivan was a good role model for Keller while teaching her to interact with the world around her. Sullivan taught Keller dedication in learning finger-spelling and speaking. If it weren’t for the dedication to learn, Keller would not have achieved the same success that she had. Keller wouldn’t have successfully gone to school and graduated. "She found Keller to be a spoiled and temperamental child, subject to tantrums… Sullivan taught Keller to obey…" (Jennifer Mossman). As soon as Sullivan found out that Keller wasn’t taught good manners and that she was wild and spoiled Sullivan taught her obedience, even before teaching Keller finger-spelling. “Anne saw the need to discipline, but not crush, the spirit of her young charge. As a result, within a week of her arrival, Anne had gained permission to remove Helen from the main house and live alone with her in the nearby cottage where she could teach Helen obedience” (Regina Genwright). Sullivan thought that Keller had to be taught with obedience and discipline. Sullivan wanted a place where she could teach Keller without the distractions of her family members. Because Sullivan was a good role model to Keller, Keller was able to succeed in life.

Together (
Together (

Since the day that a dedicated and courageous teacher, Annie Sullivan, arrived at the Keller's house was the day that started Helen Keller, a blind, deaf, and mute child, began on her journey to being successful in her life. Sullivan taught Keller discipline and obedience and to interact with the world around her through finger-spelling. Ever since Sullivan was able to be by Keller's side, Keller successfully went to school and graduated. Sullivan inspired us because it takes a lot of courage to discipline a young child who has vision and hearing loss. Sullivan’s heart and deep dedication of teaching Keller obedience and finger-spelling changed Keller’s life completely. Sullivan’s courage and willingness to teach Keller and stay by her side all throughout her life is amazing. Annie Sullivan's dedication, courage, and her willingness to be Keller’s role model brought Helen Keller into the hearing world and towards accomplishing her goal.

Works Cited

“Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker.” American Foundation for the Blind. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. .

“Annie Mansfield Sullivan Macy.” The My Hero Project. N.p., 2010. Web. 17 May 2010. .

"Macy, Anne Sullivan (1866–1936)." Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Ed. Anne Commire and Deborah Klezmer. Vol. 2. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 2007. 1188. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 May 2010.

"Macy, Anne Sullivan (1866-1936)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Ed. Jennifer Mossman. Vol. 20. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. DEL NORTE HIGH SCHOOL. 19 May. 2010

Page created on 5/26/2010 10:21:22 AM

Last edited 5/26/2010 10:21:22 AM

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