The Walker Valley High School Key Club, along with principal Danny Coggin and club sponsor Bob Donaghy, visited the Kiwanis luncheon a week earlier.
Tallent, who is from Romania, addressed the Kiwanians and expressed her appreciation (and that of her students) for the club’s sponsorship.
Tallent formerly worked as a chemist in the automobile industry, but decided she wanted to teach school. She said it was a unique experience that she landed at Cleveland High School.
“I checked out the Bradley Schools, but they had no openings,” she said. “My husband then asked me if I had checked the Cleveland City Schools. I didn’t even know you had a Cleveland City Schools.”
“When I went to the web site, they had three openings in chemistry,” Tallent added. “I thought to myself, ‘They’ve fired the whole department.’ ”
The Cleveland High chemistry instructor then discussed her interview process.
“They asked me if I thought I could manage a classroom with 25 to 30 students,” she said. “I told them, ‘I’ve survived communism and I’m from Transylvania, what do you think?’ ”
Tallent, with her rich Romanian accent, said she has become firmly attached to Cleveland High School and the local community.
“I drive an hour each morning to teach at Cleveland High School,” she said. “I’m often asked if it is worth it.
“One morning I arrived in Cleveland early and stopped at the Panera Restaurant for a coffee,” the Cleveland teacher continued. “When I walked in I saw four of our football players seated at a back table. I thought they were copying their homework before going to school, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to kill those guys!’ ”
Tallent said she circled back to the table to see what books they had so she could tell their teachers what they were doing. She said she was greeted by the students, and when she looked down she saw a Bible.
She added that the moment, and the fact the students were having morning devotions was so emotional, she went to her car and cried.
“Now when someone asks me if it’s worth it to drive an hour each morning to teach at Cleveland High School, I think, ‘Sure it is,’ ” Tallent said.
The Romanian native said she never thought she would have such a great time teaching, “but I do,” she said.
Tallent admitted to being an unorthodox teacher. “I know a lot about chemistry,” she said of her knowledge, “but I also know what I want my students to know.”
“Thank you for helping us to become a service club,” Tallent told the Kiwanis members. “It was a leap of faith for us, just as it was a leap of faith when I was hired by the Cleveland City School System.”
Sandy Ha, president of the Cleveland Key Club, also had a few words for those attending the luncheon, saying she has enjoyed her Key Club experience.
Ha said the Cleveland High Key Club has sponsored a number of service projects, including a “Jeans for Teens” effort a year ago. This year the Cleveland High senior is coordinating a “Toboggans for Toddlers” event.
She said the club has already collected 177 toboggans in its first week, and members have organized other collection groups across the state.
Other Kiwanis news:
n A delegation of Cleveland Kiwanis members are planning to attend next Tuesday’s Kiwanis meeting in Copperhill. It will be the 90th anniversary of the Copperhill Kiwanis Club, a club originally sponsored by the Cleveland club.
n Kiwanian Joyce Vanderpool reported that the club has collected five bags of groceries and $62 for the Southern Heritage Bank’s holiday food drive.