A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Allison Tunstall

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Allison Tunstall

Connecting with students is one of the most important parts of being a successful teacher. That is why this is the main goal of Allison Tunstall, a first-year English teacher at Portage High School. She taught in different capacities for four years before taking on this role five months ago in August of 2022.  

After growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Tunstall and her family moved to Valparaiso when she was 10 years old. She later went to Valparaiso High School. After graduating, she went on to college at Ball State University before getting her masters degree in fine arts and nonfiction writing at George Mason University in Virginia. She then moved back to Valparaiso, which she considers her home town despite it not being where she was born.  

“I graduated in May of 2020. This was right at the start of the pandemic, so I didn’t really get a graduation, but I finished school and then moved back here,” Tunstall said. 

Though she has been at Portage High School for 5 months now, Tunstall’s teaching journey began much earlier. She began teaching literature and writing classes to freshmen and sophomores while she was still in grad school. She also worked for Center of Workforce Innovations teaching adult education classes before landing at Portage High School.  

“My best friend got a job as an art teacher at Portage High School, and she told me I should apply for an English teaching position they had open,” Tunstall said. “I got the job and a week later, classes started.” 

Tunstall had very little time to prepare for her first day in this new position, but that didn’t stop her from taking it head-on. She has been off to a great start this year with her students and classes. Her favorite part of the job is connecting with her students and being able to help them prepare for their lives after high school.  

“The biggest thing is just connecting to these kids who are 17 or 18 years old and are about to go out into the world,” Tunstall said. “It's been really rewarding, and it's been fun. Stressful at times, definitely, but a lot of fun. I’m grateful for my students at Portage.”

When getting started at a new career, it is always comforting to have people around who support you. This is especially true for Tunstall. She has a great family and encouraging friends who understand exactly what she is going through and are there to help her along the way. 

“Everyone in my family has gone through very tough things in life, and they always work hard, and taught me to work hard. Yet, at the same time, they taught me to do what's going to make me happy, and that is going to put me on a path that I would want to stay on,” Tunstall said. 

Having friends who are also figuring things out has definitely helped her feel like she is not alone on her journey.  

Outside of work, Tunstall loves to read nonfiction works such as memoirs and essays as well as the occasional romance novel. She is also learning how to knit as a creative outlet. She enjoys going out with her friends in Chicago or staying in and watching TV.  

One important thing that Tunstall has learned is that change and growth are good things that everyone goes through. She believes it is imperative to surround herself with the right people. 

“I allowed myself time and room to grow but also surrounded myself with people who are going to support that – people who are good for me and who I'm good for as well,” Tunstall said. “Just trust in time and trust in the people around you.”