Nelson Mandela: Teaching a New World

While the passing of Nelson Mandela was not unexpected, his life and his example still hold the power to inspire in surprising ways. As I have read the many well-deserved accolades and poignant remembrances of his significant commitment to service and human rights, I have been struck by one fact especially. He was a leader on the global stage, yet he saw himself as a teacher and communicator.

When the poet Maya Angelou was keynote speaker at an educators' conference, she stated: "Educators are in the business of composing a new world. It is an honorable and noble profession." Nelson Mandela was an uncommon man whose life work continues to have a global impact, and underscores the power of one person -- one teacher -- to make a difference in so many lives.

The humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer eloquently noted there are times when our own light goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Mandela's life work was honorable and noble, and his spirit will serve as a spark for generations. Towards that end, I will borrow words from Maya Angelou's tribute poem to Mandela: "We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all."