I’ve always been inspired by Anne Sullivan, the teacher of Helen Keller. Recently I learned more about the overwhelming challenges she experienced in her young life:

  • At the age of 5 she contracted trachoma which left her partially blind and without reading or writing skills
  • At 8 her mother died of tuberculosis
  • At 10 her father abandoned Anne and her siblings
  • She was sent to a run down and overcrowded almshouse where her brother died 4 months later
  • She had two unsuccessful eye surgeries
  • Her almshouse was investigated for sexual abuse and cannibalism
  • At 12 she was housed with single mothers and unmarried pregnant women

Upon graduating from Perkins School for the Blind as valedictorian, Anne addressed her classmates, “Duty bids us go forth into active life. Let us go cheerfully, hopefully, and earnestly, and set ourselves to find our especial part.”

Anne certainly fulfilled her ‘especial part’ as she nurtured and brought forth the incredible gifts of Helen. But what if Helen never had Anne for her teacher? What if Helen, what if our students, and what if we have a power inside ourselves to do significant things, but never are aware of that power? Anne’s influence on Helen reminded me that as educators we are in the business of power awareness. Our ‘especial part’ is to help students become aware of power that resides within themselves.

One of my favorite stories that illustrates this is “Hope for the Flowers.” It’s a story about two caterpillars named Yellow and Stripe who become friends. Click here to hear Paul tell the story, “Hope for the Flowers.”

The word ‘education’ comes from the Latin word ‘educere’, which means ‘to draw out’. Anne and the gray-haired caterpillar were true educators. They were in the power awareness business and drew out the power that resided in their students.

During these uncommon and challenging times, as we approach the beginning of the school year, take a moment to identify:

  1. Who has been your Anne Sullivan or gray-haired caterpillar?
  2. Who needs you to be their Anne Sullivan or gray-haired caterpillar?

Like you, Top 20 Training is in the power awareness business. We are committed to helping students and adults become aware of the power that resides within them to develop their potential and become all they are capable of becoming.

Best wishes from our Top 20 team…Willow Sweeney, Kevin Brennan, and Tom Cody…who are my gray-haired caterpillars.

Paul Bernabei, Director

Top 20 Training