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Meet HighScope Hero

Meet HighScope Hero


“Reaching for The Stars”

Aerospace Engineer and Executive for NASA
Washington, D.C.

HighScope Hero Marlon Cox has been reaching for the stars since he was a pre-K student at Southeast Children and Families Head Start in Detroit, a preschool that used the HighScope Curriculum and educational approach.

Marlon remembers visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when he was four years old and saying “That’s what I’m going to do when I grow up.” This was not just a young child sharing a dream; it was a declaration of a life’s journey, and it became a reality.  Marlon has worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since he landed a college internship there some 15 years ago.

For 13 years, Marlon helped design the next generation of space suit systems at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He also worked with the Extra-Vehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), which currently services the International Space Station. In January 2019, Marlon and his wife Christie Cox, who also works for NASA, relocated to Washington, D.C., taking on a new role as Acting Program Executive for the Advanced Exploration System Life Support Systems Project. In this position, Marlon manages NASA’s investments in life support technology for use in future human space flight.

One might say that Marlon has a little stardust in his DNA, but he also has HighScope in his blood. Not only is he a product of the HighScope program, Marlon also had the good fortune to be born to Karen “Kay” Rush, a HighScope-trained educator and a former HighScope employee.

HighScope Hero Marlon Cox

“HighScope and early childhood education are embedded in our whole family,” remarks Kay, who nominated Marlon as HighScope Hero. Her sister Deborah Murphy-Bryant is a retired Head Start teacher with HighScope training, and her mother Elizabeth Alexander was a retired HighScope teacher for Detroit’s Hartford Church Head Start. The impact of HighScope on Marlon’s life has been far-reaching, says Kay:  “When Marlon was in the pilot Head Start classroom at Southeast Children and Families center, it was transitioning to the HighScope Curriculum. So, he was getting it straight from the training room to the classroom. His exposure to the HighScope philosophy in his preschool years, as well as in our home, allowed Marlon to fulfill his lifelong dream of working for NASA.”

“HighScope has been a big part of my life,” adds Marlon. “I became well-versed in the curriculum by learning the benefits from being around my mom.” Marlon credits much of his success to his HighScope education, particularly HighScope’s philosophy of “finding accomplishment in your own achievement, instead of looking to others for praise.” This provided him with a strong foundation for building his own self-confidence as he matured and pursued his goals.

“I always had a sense that anything was possible and nothing was out of reach,” says Marlon. “As long as I focused on my goals.”

Diane Perryman, currently Assistant Director for Early Learning Education at the Guidance Center in Southgate, Michigan, was Marlon’s pre-K teacher. She remembers, “Marlon was an incredibly detail-oriented student who stuck to his plan. He always talked about rockets, and if he was in the block area, he was building a rocket.”

Marlon, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, says, “I am very grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me — and I don’t think I would be where I am without HighScope.”

Watch the video below to go behind-the-scenes of Marlon’s work at NASA.