BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Social Studies teacher Brian Allman was sitting on the top row of the bleachers in the school gym Thursday morning for an assembly–not realizing the assembly was to honor him.
Allman was soon to learn that he was the recipient of a Milken Educator Award giving to top teachers across the country. The students cheered as Allman snaked his way down through the crowd giving high fives to many of them along the way.
“I just had no idea at all,” Allman would later say during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “We knew there was an assembly but I had no clue that it was for this award.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 7, 2019
Allman was nominated and then selected by the Milken Foundation. He’s known for his hands-on, unique approach to teaching Social Studies.
“Obviously relationships are important as a teacher. I think you’ve got to get to know your students, figure out what types of things that they’re interested in,” Allman said. “Then I like to bring in their interests into the content itself, try to do hands-on activities. I try to teach it to them in as many ways as possible.”
Allman and his students are currently going through curriculum about the Great Depression and they’re doing poverty simulation, he said.
“They are trying to put themselves in the shoes of what it might it be like for families that were going through that at that time. That also makes them realize that some people were more affected by that than others,” Allman said.
Allman admitted not every student is eager to learn but it’s important to take the time to get to know them.
“It’s being consistent and having routines. There is a standard and you are going to hold them to the standard but you are going to be there 100 percent of the time to help them,” he said.
West Virginia #MilkenAward winner Brian Allman teaches middle school because he LOVES. THOSE. KIDS. Watch this (but grab a tissue first). ??@CountyUpshur @Mr_Brian_Allman @WVeducation pic.twitter.com/mj1eGxZb5E
— Milken Family Fdn (@Milken) November 7, 2019
Allman said some people look at him and think he’s crazy for teaching middle school kids. He doesn’t see if that way.
“You get them right when they’re transitioning, so much is changing in their lives,” he said.
The Milken Educator Award brings with it $25,000 that Allman can use in any way he wants. He said he’s not sure yet.
“I’ve been strongly considering going back to school to get my doctorate so this might be a push in that direction. I honestly haven’t had time to think about it. It’s been so overwhelming,” Allman said.
He added he plans on being back in his classroom Friday.
“That’s why this award is such a shock. We don’t do what we do because we want pats on the back. We do what we do because we love these kids. I would do absolutely anything for them. I love Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. I think it is the best school in West Virginia full of the best staff in all of this state,” Allman said.
WAJR-FM Reporter Bill Dubensky contributed to this story.