44Anne Sullivan, was an American teacher, best known for being the instructor and lifelong companion of Helen Keller. At the age of five, she contracted trachoma, a highly contagious eye disease, which left her blind and without reading or writing skills. She received her education as a student of the Perkins School for the Blind where upon graduation she became a teacher to Keller when she was 20. Lets check out some facts about this amazing role model of a teacher!
1. Her full name was Johanna Mansfield Sullivan Macy.
2. She was born on on April 14, 1866.
3. She was born in Feeding Hills, Agawam, Massachusetts.
4. She was the oldest child of Thomas and Alice Sullivan.
5. Her parents were impoverished immigrants who moved to the United States from County Limerick, Ireland, during the Great Famine.
6. When she was only five years old she contracted a bacterial eye disease known as trachoma, leaving her nearly blind.
7. Her mother died when she was eight years of age.
8. Her father abandoned her and her siblings two years later.
9. She and her younger brother James, were sent to an overcrowded almshouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
10. Her brother died two to three months into their stay because he suffered from a weak hip ailment.
11. Sullivan lost her sight at a young age and therefore had no skills in reading, writing, or sewing.
12. During an 1880 inspection of the almshouse, she convinced inspector Franklin Benjamin Sanborn to allow her to leave and enroll in the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston.
13. She began her studies in Perkins School for the Blind in Boston on October 7, 1880.
14. While there, she befriended and learned the manual alphabet from Laura Bridgman, a graduate of Perkins and the first blind and deaf person to be educated there.
15. During that period of time she had a series of eye operations that significantly improved her vision.
16. When she was just 20 years old she was the valedictorian of her class.
17. She graduated in June 1886.
18. She began her work at the Kellers’ home on March 3, 1887, in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
19. As soon as she arrived there, she argued with Helen’s parents about the Civil War and over the fact that they used to own slaves.
20. She bonded with Helen very quickly.
21. She altered her tutoring methods by teaching Helen the vocabulary based on her own interests.
23. She would spell out each word out into Keller’s palm
24. Within six months this method proved to be working when Keller had learned 575 words, some multiplication tables, as well as the Braille system.
25. In 1888 she took Helen Keller, after being granted permission by her parents, to Boston Perkins School for the Blind and stayed with her there.
26. Keller became a public symbol for the school, helping to increase its funding and donations and making it the most famous and sought-after school for the blind in the country.
27. Keller’s education resulted in a degree from Radcliffe College.
28. On May 3, 1905, Sullivan married Harvard University instructor and literary critic, John Albert Macy.
29. The couple separated in 1914 but was never officially divorced.
30. She never remarried.
31. In 1932 Keller and Sullivan were each awarded honorary fellowships from the Educational Institute of Scotland.
32. They also were awarded honorary degrees from Temple University in Pennsylvania.
33. She was also awarded with an honorary degree from Harvard University.
34. In 1956 the director’s cottage at the Perkins School was named the Keller-Macy Cottage.
35. By 1935 she had gone completely blind in both eyes.
36. On October 15, 1936, she suffered a coronary thrombosis and fell into a coma.
37. She died five days later on October 20 at age 70, in Forest Hills, Queens, New York with Keller holding her hand.
38. Sullivan was cremated and her ashes were interred in a memorial at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
39. When Keller died in 1968, her ashes were placed in the Washington National Cathedral next to those of Sullivan.
40. She was the first woman to be recognized for her achievements in this way.
41. Sullivan is the main character and portrayed by Teresa Wrigh in the movie The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson.
42. After that, it moved to Broadway, and was later produced as a 1962 feature film. Both the play and film featured Anne Bancroft as Sullivan.
43. Patty Duke, who played Keller on Broadway and in the 1962 film version, later played Sullivan in a 1979 television remake.
44. Roma Downey portrayed her in the TV movie Monday After the Miracle (1998).
45. Alison Elliott portrayed her in a 2000 television movie.
46. Alison Pill played her on Broadway in the short-lived 2010 revival, with Abigail Breslin as Keller.