Congratulations are in order for Marilyn McCormick, drama teacher at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan who takes home the 2016 Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.
The award, which was first introduced last year, is a special honor recognizing a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. McCormick and the Cass Tech students were informed of her selection by a surprise visit to McCormick’s classroom from Hamilton’s Renée Elise Goldsberry, also a nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, who served on this year’s judge’s panel.
To celebrate McCormick’s hard work and valuable contribution to theatre education, she will receive a $10,000 grant for her theatre program and a trip to New York City to be recognized during the live CBS broadcast of the 70th Annual Tony Awards on June 12, 2016.
“To think that my students recommended me for this award … that’s an honor,” McCormick told CBS this Morning. “I am overwhelmed to be receiving this recognition, and I can’t wait to go to the Tony Awards. I have always told my students, ‘Good, better, best; never let it rest, until your good gets better and your better is best.’ Well, this is certainly the best!”
McCormick is the drama instructor within the Performing Arts curriculum at Cass Technical High School. She teaches courses such as Children’s Theatre – an introductory theatre course geared toward teaching the basics of theatre etiquette and technique. Students in this class perform two plays per year for invited middle and elementary school guests. Readers Theatre – a more experienced ensemble of young artists who have decided to pursue theatre/acting as a profession – perform two productions per year for invited high school peers. They travel around the city and the country performing original plays. The students are introduced to Meisner, Stanislavski and some Alexander Technique. Part of the course work is applying for colleges as well as preparing and rehearsing audition materials. McCormick travels with students to either Unified College Auditions or directly to the college campuses to help guide and support her students in their efforts. McCormick directs one play and one musical each year. In addition, she supervises the Performing Arts Guild, which is a troop of comic actors who perform comedy sketch/variety shows to raise money for the Performing Arts department, which is all self-funded.
“I encourage them to be comfortable with who they are. I hope that what I teach kids is that they are enough.” Who could ask for a better life lesson? That’s what life is all about anyway, navigating who you are and where you fit in this world. Teachers like McCormick, personally give me hope for the future generation of theatre artists and the state or arts education. As someone just breaking into the field I share her sentiments about teaching being her purpose, and it’s clear that her students both past and present feel that way too.
Congratulations Marilyn McCormick, #YouAreBroadwayBlack.