In the summer of 2019, educator Chris Gleason was an NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow and traveled to South Africa with NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows to take part in the cohort’s culminating field study. While in South Africa, Gleason was inspired by the life story of Nelson Mandela. To honor Mandela’s story, he and ComMission Possible Project commissioned composer Kelijah Dunton to create a piece for students in the Glacier Creek Middle School band in Cross Plains, Wis., to perform. Dunton entitled the piece “Master of My Fate,” a line that is taken from Mandela’s favorite quote from the poem “Invictus” by William Earnest Henley. The piece was performed for the first time in late May and will be performed at Carnegie Hall in June. Watch the Glacier Creek Middle School Band perform the piece here and read more about the experience here.
Gleason is an arts and creativity consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, founder of the ComMission Possible Project, and a 2022 recipient of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.