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A Success Story: Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan
by Pamela Wright

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If you are frustrated or discouraged in your dealings with school personnel who have low expectations for your child, you need to learn about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.

After an illness when she was nineteen months old, Helen was left deaf and blind. She could not speak and developed severe behavior problems.

Helen's mother began to search for help. She contacted Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf children. Mr. Bell referred Mrs. Keller to the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts.

The school sent Annie Sullivan, a teacher and former student (who was also visually impaired) to work with Helen.

"The most significant day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me. I am filled with wonder when I consider the immeasurable contrast between the two lives which it connects." - The Story of My Life

Anne Sullivan was a skilled, dedicated teacher. Because of Anne Sullivan's patience, persistence, and high expectations, Helen learned to speak, read, write -- and sing!

Helen became an excellent student. After years of studying with Anne, Helen attended the Perkins School. In addition to learning to read English, she learned to read French, German, Greek, Latin and Braille.

Helen spent several years preparing for college before she entered Radcliffe College in 1900. In 1904, she graduated from Radcliffe cum laude.

Helen Keller was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.
Helen Keller

While she was a student at Radcliffe, Helen wrote an autobiography, The Story of My Life (1902) with the help of John Albert Macy, her editor. She wrote fourteen books and many articles during her life.

Helen Keller was an activist and a feminist who campaigned for the right of women to vote. She was a lecturer and public speaker and traveled to more than 30 countries. Japan was one of her favorite countries.

On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.

Helen Keller died in 1968. She was 87. Shortly before her death, she told a friend,

"Through these dark and silent years, God has been using my life for a purpose I do not know. But one day I shall understand and then I shall be satisfied."

Sources: Wikipedia; Perkins School for the Blind; Answers.com

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