No matter the grades she taught over the decades, Melaine Taylor (Education, Credential, ’61) cared deeply about making her classroom a place where students loved to learn.

“They learn through enjoyment. I thought, ‘This is their job to come to school. They have to be here—while I can go anyplace else—so I want them to want to come,’” she said. “And I had kids doing cartwheels and breaking an arm just to get to my class, or racing down the hall to be the first in the door.”

She clearly knew what she was doing, whether dividing her classes so half the students would do academic work while the others got to be creative, encouraging struggling spellers to practice words while waiting in line, or turning remedial math into a game. She had great success at all levels of elementary education, from kindergarten to eighth grade, and loved every bit of it.

That passion and accomplishment are what she wants for aspiring teachers today at Chico State. She knows educators who enjoy their jobs inspire their students, creating a destination classroom and love of learning that will persist for a lifetime.

“Anything that will help a teacher be better, I’m for it,” she said.

When she and her husband, Tom, learned some Chico State students struggle to afford the commute to their placements in schools in rural communities across the North State, they established the Miles for Teaching Fund to provide gas gift cards so teacher candidates have no barriers to making a difference in the lives of the children they serve. They also established the Taylor Fellows within the School of Education, funding stipends to student teachers who are placed in some of the region’s high-need, rural schools for a full year. With their support, the future educators co-teach with mentor teachers—planning and teaching lessons and assessing student learning.

The Taylors’ ongoing generosity is a testament to the supportive atmosphere Melaine experienced at Chico State—from peers and faculty alike—and her vision for the future of tomorrow’s classrooms.

“There was always somebody who was willing to help go the extra mile to make things happen,” she said. “And I think that is still true.”