TURNING STONEchoice Model – Annie Sullivan

March is Women’s History Month and the National Women’s History Project selects a theme each year because, hey, women like to add detail and accessories. While searching through their archives, I came across 2012’s theme – “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”, and although it is so last year, education and empowerment are timelessly relevant! The NWHP honored a group of women, who were pioneering teachers and advocates to advanced learning. One of the honorees embodied both distinctions despite having only one student her entire teaching career, Annie Sullivan.
I was well aware of Sullivan; the first person to successfully teach a deaf-blind and mute child, Helen Keller. I even recall the movie, “The Miracle Worker”, rightly named for the tremendous effort and compassion it took to reach Keller, and the accomplishments that followed. What quietly inspired me was Sullivan’s personal journey, prior to meeting Keller.
Annie Sullivan was no stranger to adversity. By age four she was legally blind, by age 9 she was orphaned after her mother died of tuberculosis, and her father abandoned the family. She and a brother were sent to the poor house where he died a few months after their arrival. Tragic events weaved the tapestry of Sullivan’s childhood; yet, she found an interest in learning while being read to by prostitutes. Understanding the opportunity education would give her, she requested to be sent to school. Her experience at the Perkins Institution for the Blind was a tumultuous transition, having difficulty with authority figures and lagging behind in social graces, keeping her isolated. Nevertheless, her thirst for knowledge and her ability to adapt pushed her educational endeavors forward. She claimed, “Gradually, I began to accept things as they were, and rebel less and less. The realization came to me that I could not alter anything but myself…”
Annie Sullivan is an exemplary TURNING STONEchoice model. She understood she could not control life’s events, but could control her responses. She chose to live a full, and purpose filled life, regardless of the circumstances, making self-empowering choices that eventually not only benefitted her and Keller, but generations of teachers and students that would emulate her teaching model. If not for her awe inspiring choices as a young child there would be no Miracle Worker.
Please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com for more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process.
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice