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Chico State

Child Development Lecturer a Beacon of Hope in the Community and Inspiration to Students 

Lecturer Tess Manley is wearing glasses and a light blue sweater, smiling against a chalkboard backdrop.
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

This story is one in a series spotlighting eight exceptional faculty members who were recognized with 2023–24 Outstanding Faculty Awards, selected by the University’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee.

These awards—among the highest honors at Chico State—celebrate faculty excellence in the categories of Outstanding Professor, Teacher, Academic Advisor, Research Mentor, Faculty Service, Lecturer, Lecturer in Bringing the Profession to the Classroom, and Early Career Faculty.

Outstanding Lecturer Award: Theresa Manley

Theresa “Tess” Manley walks the walk as a lecturer in the child development department.

Manley has worked in a variety of roles on and beyond campus over the years, continually pushing herself, her students, and her community to focus on mental health, access to resources, and services that make families more resilient and able to succeed.

Her storied career as an advocate for children and families was sparked in the early ’90s, when a part-time job doing non-directive play therapy unearthed new possibilities for the recent sociology graduate. Manley went on to complete a master’s degree in education at Trinity College in Vermont, where she worked for an early education program as both a teacher and director, building on her professional skillset.

She joined the Chico State community in 2005 as a resource teacher for the Associated Students Child Development Lab, supervising interns, staff, and volunteers. This segued naturally into a role teaching.

Alongside her course load at Chico State, Manley works as a program specialist at the Butte County Office of Education, providing essential services and implementing projects in Paradise, Magalia, and Oroville. In her role, she regularly teams with community agencies to provide mental health services and programming. On campus, she continuously brings her professionalism and insight to internship courses, practicums, and seminars in child development, where students relish the opportunity to learn from someone as kind, empathetic, and genuinely connected to the work as Manley.

Lecturer Tess is surrounded by students, faculty, and University leadership in her classroom, during a surprise ceremony to honor her with an Outstanding Faculty Award.
Tess is celebrated by students, faculty, and University leadership during a surprise ceremony. (Matt Bates / University Photographer)

“Tess’s outside work in the community with our local county office of education, as well as many other initiatives that she volunteers for, have allowed her to speak personally and knowledgeably about the ways in which our students can utilize their degree in child development,” said Valerie Singleton, who has worked and taught with Manley for several years.

Manley exemplifies what it means to be a changemaker in the community and inspires her students to become the best versions of themselves in a profession that requires passion, authenticity, and might to make a difference.

“Chico State and Butte County are rich with chances for students to advance their understanding of dynamic and evolving community,” said Manley. “My career in early childhood education and early childhood mental health has afforded me the opportunity to regularly highlight professional experiences, resources, and to be able to invite professionals into my child development courses at Chico State. This component of my teaching practice is what I am most motivated by and passionate about because of the implications for student learning and their development as professionals; and contributing humans.”

In a region that has faced numerous challenges, Manley stands out as a beacon of resilience and excellence in education. Her dedication to her students, her community, and the field of child development make her a deserving candidate for the Outstanding Lecturer Award.