Tim Taylor is the executive director of the Small School Districts’ Association. Before speaking at the Zócalo/California Wellness event “Can Rural Education Survive the 21st Century?,” he joined us in the green room in downtown Bakersfield to chat about his favorite places to go in California, his mom’s philosophy as an educator, and what the walls of small-town bars would say if they could talk.
Halloween is coming up. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
Snickers. Love it. Gotta do Snickers.
Growing up, who was one educator who really made an impact on you?
My mom. She's the best teacher I've ever seen. She had two different philosophies that I always loved: She never left class without the next day prepared, and she always came in early, 45 minutes, so she was always dialed in. And the kids loved her. Anybody who teaches middle school for 33 years is going to heaven.
What's your go-to karaoke song?
I’m a huge Springsteen fan, but I'm gonna have to go with Taylor Swift, “Long Live.” She just got me through COVID. She dropped two albums during COVID, and she's so inspirational as a woman, as a leader. T-Swift all the way.
What's the last book that you loved?
It was on the history of education and Butte County. I just thought it was super interesting. The older I get, the more I'm really into history, and look at all these heroic people over the last 150 years that built schools, taught at schools. And you see some real heroes in the history of small communities.
My job is to go all over California. So I get to go to the most rural frontier towns, and my favorite thing to do is go into the local pub saloon or dive bar and get the whole history from them. I actually went to Taylorsville. T-Swift was there with me! No, just kidding. But the history of that town is beautiful, and if the walls could talk in that saloon, I would have learned a lot more.
Where's your favorite place to go in California?
Plumas County is absolutely gorgeous. I think when you get above Lake Shasta, Siskiyou County is breathtaking. You go up I-5, you get into Mount Shasta, Weed, Dunsmuir, it's all so beautiful. Modoc’s gorgeous. Even going out to Death Valley is great. But if I had to pick one place—don't get mad, people—I just think Siskiyou County is my one. The whole time you're up there someone is looking over your back: Mount Shasta. It's just so beautiful. And people out there are just wonderful.
What's your go-to order at a pub?
Where do I start? Well, sometimes that depends on the bartender. You have to ask the bartender, what's your signature drink? I used to bartend in Chico during college and beyond. And so I measure a great bartender on their martini, though somebody can make a great margarita. I’m going to go with either one of those drinks, depending on what the bartender tells me is their signature.