Brian Allman, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, believes teaching is all about building relationships.
“My teaching philosophy revolves around relationships, and I strongly believe that the long-term success of my students is contingent on the development of them. All it takes is one great teacher to change a life for the better,” Allman said. “Having the opportunity to make a long-lasting and meaningful difference in the lives of my students is by far the best aspect of my job. We can all remember those teachers who took the extra time to help us reach our full potential. Being that person for many of my students is an honor and a blessing. I try to be that type of teacher every single day.”
An educator within Upshur County Schools since 2007, Allman said if he’s being honest, he didn’t go to college with the expectation of becoming a teacher.
“I’ve always enjoyed social studies. I also knew that I worked well with children. I knew that long term, my happiness was going to be the most important part of future career. I chose education as a career because it provided me with an opportunity to combine my passions for history and our youth.”
Like many teachers, Allman said he’s had several moments in his career that have made a positive impact, and changed the way he viewed the teaching profession.
“At the beginning of my career, I had a student who was struggling with inappropriate behaviors in class. It was clear that these behaviors hadn’t developed overnight. I knew that I had to do something, so I offered to have lunch with this student. I’m fairly sure that he was expecting a punishment, but instead I just talked to him. The relationship was established. and it was good from that moment forward. At the end of the school year, as he was leaving class for one of the last times, he wadded up a piece of paper and threw it on my desk. The note said something along the lines of, ‘Thank you for being more of a father to me than my real one.’ It was really in that moment where I realized the power I had as a teacher. It was the moment where learning content became a secondary concern to the establishment of relationships. That single moment, more than any other, made me a better teacher.”
It was evident Allman’s dedication to his students did not go unnoticed when he was named a West Virginia Milken Educator in 2019. As a Milken Educator, Allman said this important moment confirmed his commitment to keep striving for excellence.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve done a decent job in the classroom, but this was the moment in my career where I realize that other people are paying attention to what I do as well. It’s also a moment where I realized that I capable of so much more. I have the desire and capability to make a difference in the lives of students across our state and country in addition to those in my school and classroom. It was a call to action. I look forward to using the opportunities I’ve been given as a way to celebrate, elevate and activate excellence in the field of education for the rest of my career.”
Finding ways to stay motivated and keep students engaged only became more challenging during the past year when the pandemic changed everything for educators across the world. Allman said If it weren’t for the dedication of every school employee – teachers, administrators, counselors, service personnel, support staff – the schools wouldn’t be able to operate in the manner in which they do.
“I think that the pandemic has magnified the importance of our people. The people are what make the education system in West Virginia successful. Every day I see educators and school staff going above and beyond to meet the needs of their students both in person and from a distance. It’s easy to get caught up in analyzing areas where improvement is needed. It’s just as important to take a step back and appreciate the work ethic and dedication of the people who keep our schools going.”
As a product of the public school system in West Virginia, Allman said he knew he wanted an opportunity to be that special kind of teacher for someone.
“Today’s student is tomorrow’s leader, and I know that investing in our youth now will pay dividends in the future. I feel that the intrinsic motivation that I get from being a teacher is stronger than it would be had I chosen any other career. I try hard to give students the best version of myself every time they come into my classroom. It’s what they deserve.”