BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School teacher received quite a surprise Thursday.
Brian Allman, who is a social studies teacher, was surprised Thursday when he was presented with the Milken Educator Award and $25,000 during a school-wide assembly. The prestigious award recognizes the exceptional work of Allman as a model for the state and nation.
Dr. Candice McQueen, Milken Family Foundation Representative and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Chief Executive Officer, surprised Allman with the 2019 Milken Educator Award.
At the beginning of Thursday’s assembly, McQueen said she had two favors to ask of those gathered in the B-UMS gymnasium.
“My first favor is related to teachers,” she said. “Teachers change the world. The first thing I want you to do is pick out a teacher you had that had a strong influence on you, and I want you to take a minute and I want you to make a commitment to write that person a letter, send them a quick email or even send them a text message to say thank you for what they have done for you a student.”
The second thing she asked students to do was to consider becoming a teacher.
“Teaching changes lives,” she said, “so, as you sit here and consider what [your future] profession is, I hope you will consider going into the profession that changes all others. We prepare the next president, we prepare governors, we prepare first ladies, we prepare CEOs of companies and we prepare doctors. Teaching is a profession that can ultimately change lives, and it is a great profession for quality of life and being able to be with students every day.”
But McQueen said she was at B-UMS for another purpose.
“I am here with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, and we are a nonprofit organization that started from the Milken Family Foundation,” McQueen said. “We support teachers every day. We work across states and districts to make sure teachers are supported and meeting the expectations we set.”
McQueen said they also honor the teaching profession.
“The Milken Family Foundation started something we like to call the ‘Oscars of Teaching,’” she said. “The Milken Family Foundation started the Oscars of Teaching about 30 years ago – The Milken Educator Award. The award is to make sure teachers are highlighted and rewarded.”
McQueen said there are 2,800 teachers across the country who have received the award, and that soon, a new teacher would be added from B-UMS.
“The nominations are secretive to find great teachers across the country because we want to highlight an unsung hero but someone who has maximum potential for the future and shows excellence every single day in the classroom,” she said. “The second thing you get is a great big celebration and recognition.
“The third thing is the teacher gets to join the elite group of 2,800 teachers from across the country who are working together to make sure education has the support and excellence it needs for the future. They also receive $25,000.”
McQueen said Allman is dedicated to students and demonstrates excellence in education every day.
“He helps students do their best and is an exceptional individual,” she said before announcing Allman as the recipient.
West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice said she hopes folks realize how special it is to have someone from the school system selected as the recipient of the Milken Educator Award.
“Brian has just done everything, and his heart and soul are into it,” Justice said. “He really cares about his students, and he has done some really innovative projects.”
Allman said receiving the Milken Educator Award was a shock.
“I want to start by saying how much I truly love this school,” Allman said. “I believe this is the best school in West Virginia, full of the best students in the state. I think you are all incredible, and I believe you are all going to be going places in life.”
Allman said he would not be standing receiving this award if it were not for multiple supportive people.
“We have a wonderful staff at this school, and I hope I can represent all of you through this,” Allman said. “If you guys work hard, you will be able to do anything you put your mind to.”
He said he is a product of a West Virginia public education and said he is proud of that.
“Thank you to everybody,” Allman said. “I student-taught here in 2007, and I never left. This has been my home for my entire teaching career.”
“I am at a loss for words; I am totally shocked,” Allman said following the presentation.
When asked what he will do with the $25,000, Allman said he has been considering going back to school to obtain his doctorate.
“I may do some traveling, and I want to get back to the kids,” he said. “There is so much that they need, and I love my job and I want to make sure they get what they need.”
Allman said the award is humbling.
“I know what a great staff we have here at our school, and I know how many great teachers are here and across the state,” he said. “To think that I was chosen out of them is just amazing but also humbling and overwhelming.”
State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine was welcomed home by Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus. Paine previously served as principal at B-UMS and is also a recipient of Milken Educator Award, Stankus said.
“Dr. Paine shows us how to do hard work and stay focused on students and student achievement,” Stankus said. “He is the 31st superintendent of schools. He has a true vision for developing the next generation of educational leaders, and he works hard to ensure that every student has the opportunity for a world class education.”
Stankus said under Paine’s leadership, B-UMS became a National Blue Ribbon School for Excellence.
Paine said he was happy to be back at B-UMS.
“One of the reasons I like this school so much is the Upshur County community is an incredible community,” he said. “It was so good to me and our family. One of the main reasons we had such a great school was because there are great teachers here.”
Paine said he was glad to hear about positive projects and initiatives underway at B-UMS, including the success of the ICU Program.
Also, during Thursday’s assembly, students who are excelling in the ICU program were recognized.
Stankus said it was a great day for Upshur County.
“We are honoring the hard work you have been putting into ICU and turning in all of your assignments,” she said. “Principal Lynch tells me that there are quite a few students who are excelling because of this program and we are thrilled to acknowledge you today.”
Lynch introduced the top performers in the B-UMS ICU program including Jasmine Friend, William Weese, Loyd McWhorter, Sarah Oliveria, Deidra Hollen, Derrick McCormick, Hannah Wolfe, Marshal Nottingham, Konner Reinking, Brandon Pumphrey, Zikiya Oliver, Serenity Johnson, Gage Schoonover, Austin Shaffer, Adam Shoulders, Amelia Griffith, Abigail McKinley, Zoey Meadows, Dylan Fisher, Jimmy Navarette, Cherokee Whitt, Maddi Atchinson, Erika Kelley, Parker Posey and Jordan Bender.