Heroine: a woman having the qualities of a hero; a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities; the central female figure in an event or period.
At a young age Anne Sullivan developed effective ways of teaching blind and deaf students, and is especially known as the teacher of Helen Keller.
Born in 1866 to poor parents, Anne Sullivan knew the devastation at an early age of losing her mother, and her two siblings who were sent away to relatives. Eventually she was sent to the county poorhouse where her brother died. Despite living in an orphanage and contracting a disease which impaired her eyesight, she received many operations at Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, which improved her vision and gave her a greater sensitivity to the blind. While there she became a model student, and graduated, valedictorian.
Anne then went to work for the Kellers, teaching their daughter, Helen, how to read, write, talk, and understand the world around her. After years of effort, Anne Sullivan’s pupil, Helen Keller, went on to Radcliffe College and graduated cum laude, publishing her first book in 1902 entitled,
The Story of My Life
Eventually Anne and Helen traveled to Hollywood to film a movie based on their lives. Both enjoyed the entertainment industry and found that they were natural “hams” even performing in vaudeville shows. Through their efforts they raised two million dollars for the blind through the Helen Keller Endowment Fund.
On October 20, 1936, Anne Sullivan died in New York. Helen was at her side. Arrangements were made for another woman to accompany Helen who lived many more years. But no one could take the place of her “Teacher.”
Quotations by Anne Sullivan:
I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.
I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of the child.
Children need guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.