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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Melinda Turner on 47-year teaching career: "I never felt like it was work"

  • Taft native spent most of her time as kindergarten teacher
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  • Melinda Turner has retired as a teacher after 47 years in the classroom.
    She's had a number of stops along the way – Fresno, Bakersfield, Woodlake, Visalia, but mostly in Taft.
    Turner grew up here and whenever she drifted away, always came back.
    "This is my home," she says. "No matter where I went I always came back home."
    Except for a seven-year stint at Taft High to teach special education and a brief stop at Lincoln Junior High – both alma maters of hers – she toiled most of those 47 years teaching kindergarten through third grade.
    But toil is not a word the 1964 Fresno State University graduate would use to describe a career teaching.
    "I never felt like it was work," she says. "I enjoyed it so much."
    Turner considers it a privilege to have grown up in Taft. She came here as a toddler with her parents – Brooks and Barbara Mann – growing up in a house across the street from the Ford City Park.
    A businessman, dad ran the Tin Shop for many years, and mom taught school.
    "Taft was such a wonderful place to grow up. I wish kids today could have the experience I had."
    And now that she's retired she has no intention of leaving.
    In fact, she's convinced her 93-year-old mother to move back. Her father died last year at the age of 98.
    "It'll be nice to have mom back here," Turner says. "She's in good health, and I think she'll really enjoy it here."
    During her years at Taft Union High School – she graduated in 1960 – Turner was active in campus organizations, serving as an officer in Tri-Hi-Y, student government, and Rally Committee.
    She also was Miss Taft and on the Oildorado Days royal court.
    Turner intends to continue to be active in the community.
    She plans to continue serving on the board of directors of the Fort Preservation Society and looks forward to sharpening her skills at the Buena Vista Golf Course.
    "I'm comfortable enjoying my retirement right here," she says.
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