Joe Tallman is blessed. He not only has found his professional calling as a teacher of religion to middle school students at St. Pius X Catholic School in Urbandale, but he has earned the respect and trust of his students so that many of them seek his advice on life’s important matters years after they complete his class.
“I hear from students who are at a crossroads in their lives, and they’re trying to figure out what to do. I remind them that if they don’t have their faith in those moments they can feel lost and that to be lost without faith can be scary,” says Tallman. “It’s a humbling experience to help be that guiding light for someone, to encourage them to turn to prayer and embrace their faith.”
Tallman says that his students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades also respond favorably to lessons in faith relating to current issues — especially those that spark classroom discussions.
“In sixth grade we discuss the Old Testament and how it relates to us. In seventh grade, we talk about the New Testament and the message of Jesus and how it applies to the world. In eighth grade, we talk about the church and how it functions in society,” he says. “I encourage them to ask what they want and guide them.”
Tallman, now in his sixth year of teaching at St. Pius X (and 11th overall) also has a young daughter who attends the Catholic school. He says that he is grateful for the opportunity to teach religion to students there, knowing that the lessons he teaches are lifelong.
“It’s a special place to work,” he says. “You’re in a good place, doing good things. It makes being a teacher at St. Pius a privilege.”