Barry Blackmon: B.E.S.T. Academy | American Graduate Champions | PBA30

APS Teacher Of The Year Gives Students Lessons In Life, Too

by Shelby Lin Erdman • OCT 29, 2015

Video produced by Dan Gillette and Gordon Ray

You might say Barry Blackmon just has teaching in his veins.

Blackmon, the 2014-2015 district-wide Atlanta Public Schools Teacher of the Year and an American Graduate Champion, is a sixth grade English and Language Arts teacher at B.E.S.T Academy at Benjamin Carson Middle School, an all-boys public school that educates sixth through 12th graders.

I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor

“I come from a family of educators and I can tell you I tried to run from it, but got caught up in it,” Blackmon said in an Atlanta Public Schools press release.

Flanked by two colleagues, who were also competitors for the prestigious award, Blackmon accepted one of the district’s highest honors from top APS school official, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, during a ceremony at the Loudermilk Center on October 16.

“I love teaching and I believe my mission in education is to ensure that my students are knowledgeable, productive, and responsible contributors of the world.”


Blackmon explained his teaching strategy during an interview with PBA’s American graduate.

“My style inside my classroom is very outside the box,” he said.

“I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor, and have pride in their work, not only just pride in school, but just pride in themselves,” Blackmon explained.

Suddenly, in the middle of the interview, Blackmon turns and yells out to nearby students “You, my boys, say yes sir.” The students yell out in unison, “Yes, sir.” Blackmon yells back, “Who’s the best?” And the students respond in a powerful howl, “Me.”


After the impromptu demonstration of school spirit Blackmon points out “You see how even they know who’s the best.”

“They have pride in their school,” the educator added.

Blackmon often goes the extra mile for his students, too, giving them lessons in life, in addition to class work.

“I even go outside that box to put what I call a gentlemen’s project, together with fraternities in the community, and my own fraternity.”

The award-winning teacher said there’s more to school than book work when it comes to educating young men in urban environments.

“Just teaching them the chivalry, the act of respect, respecting one’s self, teaching them simply, maybe how to tie a tie or shake a person’s hand, to showing them “Hey man I’ll show you how to be a young man,’ a respectable, well-mannered, well-dressed young man in the community.”

Those efforts are part of why Blackmon not only won the district-wide Teacher of the Year award, but also why he’s an American Graduate Champion.

PBA's Atlanta Champions


Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."


Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."


Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."


Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."


Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."


Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."


Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."


Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."


Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."


Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."


Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."


Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."


Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."


Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."