Anne Sullivan Elementary School opened in 2016 in Sugar Land, Texas, and is a tribute to its namesake, Anne McCormick Sullivan. Anne was a Houston Fire Department fire fighter who died heroically on May 31, 2013 when the burning building she was striving to extinguish collapsed around her. She was only 24 years old.
This year, the students at Anne Sullivan Elementary (ASE) worked diligently to honor the legacy Anne left by creating a themed tile wall for their school. “The staff and students at Sullivan strive to honor Anne daily with our actions and our kindness,” said Allie Paulk, ASE art teacher. The art program chose to incorporate images of fire fighters and Dalmatians, as well as a center mural of Anne’s profile, along with the words “Courage Has a Ponytail.”
Along with the compassion and determination that led Anne to join the ranks as a fire fighter at the young age of 17, she was known for the ponytail she often sported. She earned the playful nickname “Punky” for her hairstyle, but everyone in her squad knew that she was just as tough as the rest of them. Standing at 5′ 2″, she was said to have been able to carry a 180-pound man around the station. She exemplified strength and courage to her very last day, always fighting bravely to save lives.
Following her death, the Houston Fire Department Academy commissioned the Anne McCormick Sullivan Award, which, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, is presented to cadets who best exemplify integrity, extraordinary responsibility, never-quit attitude, and the discipline and commitment to be the best.
Anne’s sister, Kate Sullivan, contributed the center mural as well as three separate 2 tile x 2 tile mini-murals to the project. One depicts a young Anne sitting in a tree with the quote “I am myself, Mama.” The attribution below reads, “said by Anne McCormick Sullivan since age 3.” From the time she was a young girl well into adulthood, Anne was self-assured and courageous, and her loved ones continue to remember her as such.
Many thanks to Allie Paulk for sharing the inspiring story of Anne Sullivan Elementary with us! For more information, check out their website.