“I grew up in the ’50s, so the majorette phase was a hobby when I was in elementary school,” said Mrs. Durlin, English department chair. “I remember there was a high school girl who volunteered to teach us and we thought it was great. So we took lessons and our finest hour was after we could actually twirl the batons; we got these great uniforms and we marched in the Frederick, Maryland Thanksgiving Day Parade of 1957,” she continued.
Many students have had Mrs. Durlin as a teacher at some point in their Pace career, but few know the many interesting details about her personal life. She spent most of her childhood in a tiny town in Maryland. Her family ended up coming back to Atlanta because her mom was a native Atlantan and she was “dying to come back to the South.” She began eighth grade at Chamblee High School in 1961. “There were still ’50s-style hoods, with greaser hairdos and hopped up cars; it was still ‘Happy Days.’ Some aspects of it were literally like the musical ‘Grease,'” she remembered with a laugh.
“I went off to Emory when I graduated, and I loved it!” she said. She was able to pursue her love for theater there. “I always did a lot with drama, and in high school a girl friend and I would write entire shows and put them on. Our finest hour in high school was when we wrote a parody of a beach party movie, like ‘Beach Party Bingo,’ you know these incredibly stupid films. But we were all fascinated with the glamour of Southern California as it existed in the ’60s and in these stupid movies,” she explained. She also shared that she was in a sorority and immediately laughed, saying, “I think the theme is how corny my upbringing was.”
Mrs. Durlin went on to graduate school in English at Emory University where she met her husband. “He was just back from Vietnam. So he was just returning to grad school after a two-year hiatus and I just thought he was the cutest thing I had ever seen,” she shared. “So I met him in an English Romanticism seminar,” she laughed.
Opting out of continuing with her Ph.D., Mrs.Durlin went right into teaching. “I did not know anything about getting a teaching job. I had not taken the first education course. I was just taking English courses and having a good time. So I thought that I would go over to a local high school and see if they needed anybody. I just waltzed into Briarcliff High School and got the job,” she said. Of course, she had to then backtrack and take education courses when she started teaching at Briarcliff, where she stayed until coming to Pace in 1979. “One day I just got a phone call out of the blue and it was George Mengert, who was here at Pace. There was an opening at Pace and he said he remembered me from grad school and I really had to think about it twice because I never knew anybody that either went to or taught at a private school. So we talked and one thing led to another and I took the job,” she said.
Mrs. Durlin did not only come to teach English, however. “When I was first hired, Dr. Mengert hired me to do junior high drama, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done! The seventh and eighth graders do not really hear you when you are telling them things like, ‘Do not turn your back to the audience when you deliver your lines because then they wont hear you,’ so what do they do on opening night? They turn their back on the audience,” she explained while laughing.
Mrs. Durlin’s love for the arts extends beyond theater. “My favorite thing in the world is dancing, any dancing, any time, any where. “That is when I feel the most alive; that is really the hobby I love the most,” she said. Even more surprising is Mrs. Durlin’s eclectic taste in music. “I like a lot of different types of music, including hip hop. I got so tickled at Osai Avril and I loved the music for Symone Sommerville’s dance. There is a great song by Sean Paul called ‘Get Busy’ and some of those early Jay-Z songs, like ‘Can I Get a…’ So I’ve always liked music that is really upbeat and danceable,” she said. She finished with a few words of wisdom to all the guys: “Take the girls dancing. They will love you for it.”
By Mariam Dvalishvili, Graphics Editor ’12

Photo Source: Marsha Durlin

Mrs. Durlin performs her majorette pose
Mrs. Durlin's high school photo

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