BUCKHANNON — A local teacher got the surprise of his life Thursday morning when a top-secret assembly convened to present him with a $25,000 award. Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School teacher Brian Allman was the only West Virginian to receive the prestigious Milken Educator Award this year.
The Milken Educator Award has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” and is given to instructors showing exceptional educational talent, which has been shown in the school, educational accomplishments, potential for long-term leadership and noticeable impact on students, staff and even the community in which they work.
Presenting the award was Candice McQueen, Chief Executive Officer at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, which is a nonprofit that started the Milken Family Foundation.
“The first thing I want you to do, is to think about a teacher that you have had that had such a strong influence on you,” McQueen said, “And I want you to make a commitment to write that person a letter, send them a quick email, even a text message if you have their phone number, and say ‘Thank you for what you’ve done for me, as a student’.”
McQueen asked the students to take a moment and think about a teacher that had an impact on them and explained that teaching is the most important profession because it is the beginning of all other professions.
“We want to announce the newest Milken Educator right here in West Virginia. This is an educator who is dedicated to students. This is an educator who, every single day, comes to school and demonstrates excellence in education, and this educator helps students do their best and is an exceptional individual,” McQueen said, before announcing Allman as the winner of the award.
Allman looked astonished and high-fived students on his way down the bleachers to accept his $25,000 award. “I am going to start just by saying how much I truly love this school. I truly believe that this is the best school in West Virginia and probably the best students in this state,” Allman said. “We have a lot of challenges here in West Virginia, but this state is full of the best people in this entire country.”
Allman is the only educator in the state to win this award in 2019. He is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. Allman earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Marshall University. Allman serves as a mentor for student teachers from West Virginia Wesleyan, and serves as the Grand Chapter Advisor of Alpha Sigma Phi, a fraternity he was involved in at Wesleyan. These roles allow him to help young adults get ready for life after graduation.
According to his profile on the Milken Educator website, “When the class studies World War I, Allman simulates mustard gas to show students what soldiers experienced in the trenches.” This is just one of the many examples of the hands-on experiences Allman presents to teach his classes about history.”
Allman continued his encouragement of B-UMS students during the award presentation by saying, “If you work hard, you’re going to be able to do anything that you put your mind to.”