Teachers Heroes

Anne Sullivan

by Dayna from Dublin

To me, one of the characteristics of a hero is persistence. Annie Sullivan was persistent through all of her frustration with Helen Keller and all of Helen’s tantrums. Annie was also willing, she wanted to help Helen and wanted Helen to succeed. She was giving, she devoted most of her time to helping Helen and was sad when they had to leave each other. Annie was friendly, after days of Helen fighting her, she still tried to make friends with Helen. Annie was also caring, she grew to care very much about Helen and Helen cared about her. These are all the traits of a hero to me.

Like Helen, when Annie was a girl, she was filled with loss and anger. She lived with her father and her mother in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Her parents were kind, funny, and had lots of stories to tell. Most days, after dinner she would sit on her father’s lap and listen to him tell stories.

When Annie was 3 years old, her left eye started to itch. The more that she rubbed it the more it became sore and damaged. Annie’s family had no money to pay a doctor and just hoped that her eyes would heal on their own. After 2 years, her parents took her to doctor. They found out that it was trachoma (Trachoma is an eye infection caused by bacteria that can cause blindness). The doctor gave them some medicine for Annie’s eyes, but it didn’t help. After that, her mother developed tuberculosis (a sometimes deadly disease caused by a bad cough). During this time, her mother had a baby named Jimmy. Jimmy had a disfigured hip. As Annie’s mother got worse and worse she had another baby, Mary.

After Annie’s mother died, she and her 2 siblings lived with their father, but her father’s drinking problem got worse. The 3 kids had to move in with their aunt and uncle. After a while, the relatives didn’t want the child with the bad eyes and horrible temper, or the one with the bad hip. They only wanted the healthiest one, Mary. Annie and Jimmie were sent to the poorhouse. They were the only kids at the poor house. As time went on, Jimmies hip became so bad that he couldn’t even get out of bed and Annie’s eyes were getting worse still, she was almost completely blind.

Annie still wanted to go to school. One day, an old lady told her about a school for the blind. When a group of important people came that were connected to the school, she begged them to let her go to the school. They let her come. Some of the kids in her kindergarten class made fun of her because they were 6 years old and she was 14. She was just learning the same things they were! For once, Annie actually wanted to go back to Tewksbury. It was her home.

Annie was a quick learner. She learned to read raised print and Braille. She was catching up to the students her age now. She got angry a lot. One day she got very mad at a teacher and stomped out of the classroom shouting that she’d never come back. Then, a teacher came to give Annie lessons and manners. It worked. She learned to control her temper and speak kindly. She came to be one of the best students of the school and started helping out the younger students.

Annie spent that summer worrying about how she was going to support herself and what she was going to do with her education.

Then, Annie got a letter asking her to be a teacher for the Keller’s daughter. Annie didn’t know if she wanted to take the job and leave an older lady named Laura Bridgman there. Laura was her friend. As Annie read books on teaching, she realized that it would be very hard to teach a blind, deaf, and mute child. By 1887, Annie felt ready to teach Helen Keller.

Annie Sullivan was only 20 years old when she took on the task of educating Helen Keller. Annie was not in a good mood when she got off the train in Tuscumbia, Alabama. James Keller came to greet her when she got off the train. She wasn't happy when she heard that Helen was at home waiting. Kate Keller and Annie liked each other right away. Annie felt confident because she already had a friend in Mrs. Keller.

She and Helen had many fights, but Annie never gave up with Helen. She taught Helen to read sign language by feeling which letter they were making with their hands. She eventually became Helen's friend and taught her to have manners. They suggested that Annie and Helen move into the guest house that was on the property so that Helen could focus more. Annie taught Helen to dress herself and other things on her own.

Annie Sullivan was a successful person, considering that she was nearly blind herself. She became known as the “Miracle Worker.” Annie is a hero to me and many other people, especially Helen Keller.

Page created on 6/7/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/7/2006 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Anne Sullivan - Braille Bug website