Anaheim Elementary superintendent receives Save the Music Foundation Award

Anaheim Elementary School District superintendent, his family and AESD Board of Education members
Anaheim Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Downing (center) celebrated his award with family and members of the Board of Education.

Anaheim Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Downing is the 2023 recipient of the Save the Music Foundation’s 18th annual Administrator Award for Distinguished Support of Music Education. 

The longtime educator was presented with the honor in Texas at the National Conference on Education, hosted by the AASA, the School Superintendents Association

AESD Superintendent Dr. Christopher Downing with AASA Executive Director David Schuler
AASA Executive Director David Schuler presented Dr. Downing with the 18th annual Administrator Award for Distinguished Support of Music Education.

The Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit that aims to help students, schools and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. It has donated nearly $70 million worth of instruments and technology to more than 2,500 schools. 

This award recognizes one superintendent or school district CEO annually who has exhibited an outstanding commitment to restoring music education at their school district.

Downing leads 24 campuses in the largest elementary district in California. He believes music education has transformed his students. 

“Our young people are more excited to go to school because of music,” said Downing, who was hired as Anaheim Elementary’s superintendent in 2018. “Music is integral to their social and emotional development and provides them an outlet to express themselves.” 

His commitment to ensuring every student in the district has equitable access to music education expanded the partnership with the foundation which was established in 2015. Together, they have transformed music education across the district’s campuses and earned $850,000 in grants to date.

In 2022, the district added mariachi and ballroom dancing to its before- and after-school programming as part of its Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, offering students more culturally-relevant opportunities to express themselves through art. 

“Superintendent Downing has been a champion of music education for all elementary students in Anaheim,” said Jaclyn Rudderow, senior director of school programs for Save The Music Foundation. “His leadership and vision have brought a rich and well-rounded music education to all AESD students, and Save The Music is thrilled to be honoring him on a national level.”