Brian Allman loves finding innovative ways to engage students in his sixth-grade social studies classroom at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School (BUMS) in Buckhannon, West Virginia. When the class studies World War I, Allman simulates mustard gas to show students what soldiers experienced in the trenches. He sets up a real assembly line when they learn about the Industrial Revolution and takes students to a Native American burial ground and Moundsville Penitentiary, a now-closed Gothic-style prison. Allman’s students learn to support their opinions with facts, think about the future impact of their decisions and discuss sensitive issues. During a unit on World War II, Allman invited a student’s mother to talk to the class about her family history; her great-grandparents were killed in a concentration camp. Allman planned a schoolwide assembly for Holocaust Remembrance Day, then joined a colleague’s class on a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Allman builds relationships with students who are at an impressionable age, challenging them to set and exceed their own academic and personal goals. He modifies or enhances lessons to meet the needs of all students and emphasizes the important role each individual plays in the world. When a group of boys with a history of disrespectful behavior came to BUMS, Allman took them into his own enrichment group. Drawing on ideas from A Call to Men, a nonprofit that focuses on character education for young men, he challenged the students to take responsibility for their actions and provided them with a daily support system. The boys worked with Allman on a now-popular monthly newsletter, interviewing teachers and fellow students and writing stories about BUMS events and culture. Allman’s dedication to his students and passion are contagious, and students look to him for guidance long after leaving the sixth grade.
Allman revived the school’s social studies fair and sent three projects to the regional competition last year; one team won second place at the state level, competing against eighth graders. He mentors new teachers and works with student teachers from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Allman chairs the interview and textbook selection committees and has served on the BUMS Faculty Senate, as well as teams for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), technology and school leadership. Allman has coached both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and regularly attends sporting events, concerts and recitals to support his students outside the classroom. As Grand Chapter Advisor of Alpha Sigma Phi, his college fraternity, Allman helps young adults prepare for life after graduation.
Allman earned a bachelor’s in secondary education in 2007 from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s in educational leadership in 2015 from Marshall University.
Press release: Making History Class a Gas Earns Teacher Brian Allman a $25,000 Milken Educator Award