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Retiring Detroit Teacher: “If they’ve been with me they're working towards excellence, always”

Richard T. James

Marilyn McCormick only expected to stay in Detroit for a year or two before moving to New York to live the “bohemian lifestyle.” Then she got a teaching job at her alma mater, Cass Technical High School. “I was totally enjoying what I was doing…[and] I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing,” McCormick said. Now forty years later, the performing arts teacher will be retiring.

McCormick's love for teaching stems from knowing that she can change lives. “[My students] know that life is not easy, but they also know how to persevere. They keep their shoulder to the plow and they don’t quit. They work for excellence.They are not willing to settle for mediocrity,” she said. McCormick does not teach for monetary gain. She encourages new teachers to stay with the profession. “Hang in there. Plant those seeds, because that pay off is much greater than any amount of money,” McCormick said.


Many of McCormick’s former students have gone on to careers in the performing arts. J. Mallory McCree, who is a regular on ABC’s Quantico, credits McCormick with helping him get into Rutgers University’s acting program and still uses the lessons she taught him.


“I love [Mrs. McCormick] for helping me understand that this business is a game, yet I always have to remember who I am and be secure in who I am to never lose my truth, but at the same time always bring my best self and always be excellent in my craft,” McCree said.


For her final production, McCormick is directing Tim Rice and Elton John’s Aida. There will be two casts: one with current Cass Technical students and another with both students and alumni. The alumni returning include Cornelius Smith Jr. of ABC’s Scandal and Daniel Bellomy who recently starred in the Lifetime original movie The Real MVP: The Kevin Durant Story.



Marilyn McCormick joined us on Stateside today, listen below.