Tallman, a resident of the city of Patterson, is a fourth-grade elementary school teacher at the district’s small school campus in the unincorporated Merced County community of Santa Nella. As noted by her fellow cohorts, she has made a huge impact on the families and the futures of the children that have passed through her classroom over the past 15 years as an educator.
“It’s important to know that she is nominated by her peers, which says a lot,” Romero School principal Lisa Filippini told the Irrigator. “She’s a wonderful teacher out here. Parents are always requesting her.”
Tallman, who began her teaching career at the Chatom School District east of Patterson, has been at Romero School now for 12 years and enjoys watching her students succeed.
“She pushes the students to their full potential in a kind and loving way; she always brings out the best in her students,” Filippini said of Tallman.
Many of the students at Romero School are dual language, and many more were brought up in homes where Spanish is their first language. But Tallman is aware of her students’ struggles, and always keeps that in mind when helping them read.
“I do push my kids quite a bit,” Gail Tallman said, but recognizes that sometimes all it takes is that extra push for her students to shoot for the stars, emphasizing that much of their success can be attributed to reading.
“I’m a huge advocate for reading,” Tallman said, “…reading opens doors.”
One of those doors was opened by a former student of hers and 2014 Gustine High School valedictorian Alejandra Felix, who recently received a full ride scholarship to Stanford University.
Tallman was invited to the Gustine High commencement ceremony by Felix, unbeknownst that she would tip her hat to Tallman during her speech at the school’s graduation. She thanked Tallman in helping her to discover the beauty of the written word.
“It’s nice to know I played a small part in helping her along her way. It’s such a big honor to be remembered in such a way,” Tallman said. “When she said the beauty of the written word, that’s exactly what I want my kids to understand, is that reading and writing can open doors.”
Tallman has since taught Alejandra Felix’s younger brother, sister, and cousin in her classroom at Romero School.
“I love where I teach, I love the families, I love the kids, I love the teachers. It’s like a family, that’s why I love it so much,” Tallman said of her work as a teacher in Santa Nella, “… and I’m never leaving here.”
Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.