Louise Tallent, a Lake Central High School Teacher and the work-based learning supervisor, was born and raised in Montana where she attended schooling all the way through college. She attended Montana State University where she studied family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in extent and education work.
“With my studies in in extent and education work, it allows me to educate others on nutrition, canning skills, sewing, interpersonal relationships, and developing job skills,” Tallent said.
After Tallent graduated college, she got married and moved to Kansas with her husband, where they started a family together. In Kansas, she worked for a dairy council unit organization.
“Our job was to provide nutrition education materials to schools in 57 counties in the state of Kansas,” she said. “We provided the nutrition materials at no charge to teachers in the 2nd, 5th, and 7th grade levels, as well as to high school and community college levels.”
Tallent and her husband moved to Dyer about 25 years ago. At the time, she was focused on raising her three young children, but then decided to go back to school.
“I wanted to keep my finger in the pie, as far as my profession goes, so I was able to go back to school at Valparaiso University and get the credits to bring my Montana teachers license into the state of Indiana so it could be licensed here,” Tallent said.
Once she obtained her Indiana license, she took a job as a teacher at Kahler Middle School in Dyer about 20 years ago.
“I worked at the middle school for several years in which I taught a computer module class where the students were taught family-life skills, like some cooking and child care,” she said. “And I also taught child development, sewing, and study skills to 7th grade students. I had a great experience at Kahler Middle School.”
From there, she went on to get a master’s degree and an administrative license for some background in secondary education at the high school level and then took on a job at Lake Central High School, which she has had for about four years now.
At Lake Central High School, she oversees the work-based learning program, which is a program that allows students to stay fully enrolled in high school while working or volunteering at a job that interests their future goals.
“Students are allowed to leave campus for a few hours of the day, usually the latter half of the day, and go to their place of employment, or place volunteering,” she said.
The work-based learning program is not new, but rather fresh to a lot of current Lake Central High School students due to it being cut a few years ago.
“We used to have the work-based learning, but with budgetary cuts, it was one of the things that was let go,” she said. “However, this year, in a very small way, we have been able to bring it back. Having work experience aligned with classroom experience is really beneficial for students… it has proven to be very successful.”
Currently, Tallent has students who are working on and off of campus at different locations. Off campus, there are students at veterinary clinics, emergency medical services training sites, a diesel truck repair business, after school childcare locations, cadet teaching at local schools, a newsletter publication program with the area elementary and middle schools, and at a senior living home helping with culinary preparations. On campus, at the high school, there are students who help with the technology employees as well as ones that work with the machine shop teachers, which provide services back to the school.
“It is really a wide variety of career paths that these students are on. I supervise and visit with the students to make sure that they are building their portfolios appropriately and up to the state’s standards,” she said. “I also go out and visit students at their worksites and get a chance to meet with their supervisors to gain feedback as the students develop employability skills.”
Tallent’s favorite part about overlooking the work-based learning program is being able to help the students.
“I enjoy watching the students grow and develop. These kids have been getting hands-on experience in so many ways, and that just makes me so excited about the program and its future,” she said.
Outside of working, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her three children and one grandchild, traveling, skiing, horseback riding, and learning about cuisine.
Though she has lived in several different places in the U.S. Tallent thanks the people and the features of Lake Michigan which have kept her and her family in Northwest Indiana.
“You get the city life of Chicago and all its wonderful amenities and the natural environment of the Dunes in Indiana, and that is pretty amazing living in an area that can offer both,” she said.