Teachers Heroes

Anne Sullivan

by Nicole from Selden

“People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.

My hero is Annie Sullivan. Annie Sullivan certainly was a "Miracle Worker". She was a very strong, patient and determined woman. Even after suffering tremendous loss, Annie didn't give up. She went on to become not only a great teacher, but a devoted friend to Helen Keller. Anne Sullivan is someone I admire. She proved that with a lot of hard work, you can accomplish anything.

Ann Sullivan was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Her parents, Alice and Thomas, were Irish immigrant farmers. Annie suffered from an illness when she was five years old that left her nearly blind. Her mother died a few years later. An aunt took care of Annie's younger sister, Mary. However, Annie and her brother, Jimmie, were abandoned by their father and were sent to a state orphanage in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

The conditions in the orphanage were harsh. Fires, rats and sickness surrounded the children. Jimmie had tuberculosis in his hip and it became very difficult for him to get out of bed. He later died with his older sister Annie at his side. This event only made Annie more determined to escape the "retched prison".

Annie’s wish to leave the orphanage was granted on October 7, 1880. She entered the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind in Boston. Annie learned the manual alphabet which would prove to be very helpful later. She studied hard and was named valedictorian of her class. At 21, Annie was offered a job to teach a seven year-old blind-deaf and mute Helen Keller.

On March 3, 1887 Annie arrived at the Keller’s home located in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Immediately, Annie began teaching Helen the manual alphabet. She spelled out word after word. It took patience and work before Helen finally understood each word had a meaning. After learning hundreds of words, Annie then taught Helen to read Braille. When Helen wanted to go to college, Annie was at her side. In 1904, Helen graduated from Radcliffe College with honors. What an unbelievable accomplishment for both Helen and Annie.

Helen and Anne, 1895 (Perkins School for the Blind History Museum Website)
Helen and Anne, 1895 (Perkins School for the Blind History Museum Website)

Annie married John Albert Macy on May 2, 1905. He was the editor of Helen's autobiography, "The Story of My Life". Although they never officially divorced, the marriage was over by 1914. In 1917, Helen and Annie moved to Forest Hills, New York. The rest of Annie's life was spent lecturing and touring around the United States with Helen. Annie and Helen worked for the American Foundation for the Blind to raise money for the foundation.

In 1927, Nella Braddy wrote Annie's biography, "Anne Sullivan Macy". It was published in 1933. Annie's health and eyesight declined. Annie died on October 20, 1936 at the age of 70. Helen was at her side, holding her hand.

Page created on 9/1/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/1/2006 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 - White House Dream Team
Anne Sullivan - Teacher to Helen Keller