Sister Anne Joseph, R.A. (Elsie Anne Palmer) was born in Schenectady, NY, the only child of Hungarian immigrant parents. When Anne was still a toddler, her father died and her mother returned with Anne to her family in Hungary. She could have looked forward to a happy family life with her aunts and cousins, but this was the eve of World War II.
As an American citizen, her mother fared badly during the war; mother and daughter were both deeply affected. In 1946, they returned to the United States, to New York City, where Anne briefly attended St. Elizabeth’s School. When her mother decided to move to Miami, Anne was enrolled in the Assumption School, Bay Haven.
In 1956, Elsie Palmer entered the Assumption as a postulant in Miami and then came to Ravenhill in Philadelphia to make her novitiate. Taking her parents’ names, Anne and Joseph, Sister Anne Joseph made her first vows in July 1957 at Ravenhill.
After completing her undergraduate degree at Villanova University, Sister Anne studied to be a Montessori teacher under the supervision of Sister Isabel, an Assumption Sister who had studied under Maria Montessori herself, and had trained the first Montessori teachers in the U.S. Sister Anne went on to further studies in the Montessori method at Bergamo, Italy, at the Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani.
After teaching experiences in Canada and Wisconsin, Sister Anne returned to teach at Ravenhill Academy. In 1976, she co-founded Montessori Genesis II in the Mantua section of Philadelphia, hoping to bring Montessori education to children and families in a traditionally underserved neighborhood. There she spent the great part of her professional career, over 30 years.
Another professional engagement dear to her heart were her art classes at the John F. Kennedy Behavioral Health Center on Broad Street. She arranged for many of her students to mount successful shows in and around Old City and West Philadelphia. She also enjoyed a relationship with the Rudolphy House for the Blind and the Paschalville Library, where she taught English as a Second Language to a new generation of immigrants to our country.