Helen and Me
The story of Annie Sullivan Macy and her work with Helen
Now students will have the opportunity to meet Annie Sullivan
the strong, heroic woman of the 19th century who made the art of
teaching her life's work.
At the age of nine, Miss Sullivan was an orphan, legally blind
living in an almshouse in Tewkesbury, Massachusetts. It was these
hardships that prepared her to transform the life of a young blind and
deaf girl named Helen Keller. It was Miss Sullivan's gift of language
that enabled the child to bravely walk through life and conquer the
impossible. From the spelling of Helen's first word, W-A-T-E-R, to
Helen's graduation with high honors from Radcliffe University, Annie
Sullivan worked as her Teacher by her side. Together they inspired
Mark Twain once wrote in a letter to Helen, "You are
creature. You and your other half, Miss Sullivan that is. For it took
the pair of you to make this perfect and complete whole."
In telling this story through story, music, and comical join-in reenactments,
the inspiration continues. With the help of Anne Pasquale as Miss Sullivan,
students will follow the path of Helen and Teacher. Students will put themselves
in Helen's shoes and learn what it meant to be as severely handicapped as she.
They'll also learn how Annie's miraculous gift of language changed the quality
of Helen's life forever.
- To have students become aware and tolerant of those who are
blind and/or deaf.
- To have students understand the necessity of perseverance
in the face of adversity.
- To highlight the role of women in society.
- BELL, ALEXANDER GRAHAM
- The man credited with the
invention of the telephone, whose wife was deaf. It was Mr. Bell who
initiated the union between Helen and Teacher.
- Someone who does not possess the ability to see.
- A system of reading and writing for the blind,
which uses raised dots to denote symbols and letters, and can be
understood through the sense of touch.
- Someone who does not possess the ability to hear.
- DR. ANAGNOS
- The director of Boston's Perkins School For
The Blind in 1880.
- KELLER, HELEN
- The famous deaf and blind pupil of Annie
Macy, and daughter of Captain and Kate Keller. Because of Annie's
teaching, Ms. Keller becamse a widely-read author, lecturer,
international advocate for the blind, and a source of inspiration for
- PERKINS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND
- The school Annie Sullivan
the age of nine. Perkins gave her several operations, which restored
her sight, and a formal education.
- POTATO FAMINE
- The terrible plague that forced Thomas
and Alice Sullivan, Annie's parents, from their homeland in Ireland. It
was this disease that was said to have caused Annie's mother's early
death and led to Annie's childhood blindness as well as her brother
Jimmy's crippling tuberculosis.
- THE SENSES
- The ability to see, touch, taste, smell and
- SIGN LANGUAGE
- A means of communication based on a
series of physical gestures. It was the language's manual alphabet that
Annie employed as the primary tool in instructing Helen, by spelling
into her hand.
- The Boston almshouse where Jimmy and Annie
lived as children.
- TWAIN, MARK
- The famous nineteenth-century author who
wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,
and who befriended Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.
Questions for Discussion and Classroom Activities
- Have one person pretend to be deaf and blind. Now hold a
conversation with a normal student. Perform simple classroom tasks.
- Imagine what Helen Keller's life would have been if she
had never encountered Annie Sullivan. Do you think she would have had
many friends? Had as many interesting hobbies? How would she have
- Make a list of many hobbies and activities you enjoy every
day. If any or all of the following are on your list - biking,
swimming, horseback riding, canoeing, mountain climbing, singing,
foreign languages - you have a hobby in common with Helen Keller. What
would you need to do in order to enjoy these same activities if you
were blind and deaf like Helen?
- The art of teaching is not easy. Select one of your hobbies
from question 3. Now turn to a neighbor and try to instruct them in one
of its aspects. Think of different ways to instruct your student -
pictures, modeling, verbal examples, etc. Now imagine your student has
a handicap - a broken leg, a hearing problem, etc. How does this change
Braddy, Nella (Henny). Anne Sullivan Macy.
Costello, Elaine. Signing: HowTo Speak with Your Hands.
New York: Bantam Books, 1983
Hurwitz, Johanna. Helen Keller: Courage In The Dark.
(A Step into Reading book: Step 3) New York: Random House, 1997.
Keller, Helen. The Story Of My Life.
Keller, Helen. Teacher: Annie Sullivan Macy.
What they say about...Helen and Me
"Anne Pasquale is a fine actress and a great teacher!" - Elizabeth Kaplowitz, Director, LAB School for gifted children
"It was wonderful, a gift that my kids will never forget." - Angela Giufredi, teacher for the hearing-impaired, and recipient of the President's 1998 Teacher of the Year award
"A pleasurable and informative work." - John
(actress & playwright
is presently a member of The Actors Studio. She trained at LAMDA and
the New York School of the Arts. She has appeared on TV in: As
The World Turns
and Search for Tomorrow
In Great Britain she performed a range of roles from Viola in Twelfth
to Sarah Goddard, a turn of the century Rhode Island
feminist. Some of her New York stage credits include: The New
Dramatist's Three Sisters
, Lincoln Center’s A
View from the Bridge
, Theatre of the Open Eye’s Birdbath
The 78th Street Theatre Lab’s Ruffian on the Stair
and Paradise Lost
at The Actors Studio. In
addition, Ms. Pasquale creates and tours her repertoire of Living
for audiences of all ages in venues along
the East Coast. Recent appearances include: Nellie
at The NHHC Chautauqua, Liberty Belles
Yale University Museum and Deborah Sampson
John Jay Homestead.