C. R. Downing is a Teller of Tales. In a society where oral tradition dominated, he would be a Keeper of the History. His ability to spin a yarn worked to his advantage for over thirty-nine years in high school and college classrooms where he was able to “do five shows a day” as nationally recognized teacher and professor.
As long as he can remember, Dr. Downing liked being in front of a group telling stories. Some were his own, and others “borrowed.” His cousins recount his renditions of Bill Cosby’s stories in their grandmother’s front yard as teenagers. If you talk with any of the 5,000+ students he's taught, they will affirm that stories were (and still are!) a big part of nearly all classroom presentations. When he attends high school reunions from his days at Monte Vista, he is often greeted with "I remember the story you told..." Some are recollections of science content, others are about his stories. The comments he cherishes are those that begin, “I remember [science] because of that story about [frequently some injury from sports or coaching or an analogy for the content].
Most recently, Koehler Books, published his first sci-fi novel, Traveler's HOT L. Contacts made through that process led to a non-fiction book contract with Morgan James, Publishers. As a result, he is co-author with a good friend and colleague, JoAnn Jurchan on Tune Up Your Teaching & Turn On Student Learning. The book provides direction to teachers, parents, and administrators in developing a learning environment where self-directed learners are the expectation, not the exception, and deepen their understanding of why students need to sharpen each other to think more deeply, take risks, and question the fixed roles of teacher/student they have experienced in the past.
Dr. Downing received several awards for his teaching. He was a "San Diego County Teacher of the Year," won the CIBA-GEIGY Award for Excellence in Science Teaching from NSTA, was a Christa McAuliffe Fellow in 1992.
In 1993, he won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.
Outside the classroom,Dr. Downing is a developer of curricula with six lab/activities marketed by Science Kit and Ward's Biological Supply. He's also authored three books of laboratory and creative activities that promote critical thinking and authored and edited a four-volume set of textbooks (Making Connections: Integrating the Science of 1) Water; 2) The Atmosphere; 3) The Human Body; 4) Energy) for a thematic-integrated science program. Each text was one semester of coursework.
Dr. Downing is a frequent speaker at science conferences at the local, state, and national levels. Topics covered by his workshops include: critical thinking, creative assignments, integration of curriculum, adding inquiry to laboratory exercises, “bringing about closure,” the importance of kinesthetic activities, and effective questioning techniques. His consulting company, Engage in Science, provides professional development opportunities for school districts nationwide.
Now something from C. R. Downing in his own words:
I thank God for His love and direction in my life. It is God that has gifted me as a teacher. While my personality has roots in my DNA,
I am a family man. I began life as a son. While my dad passed away in 2002 of leukemia, I have a loving 90+ year old mother, Burdie—we still have Sunday dinner at her house nearly every week. Three years after I became a son, I became a brother. I have a most excellent sister, Barb.
In August of 1971, I became a husband. I have a lovely, patient, kind wife, Leanne. Marriage also made me a son-in-law. Besides those titles, I’m a brother-in-law, an uncle, a nephew, and a cousin to a very large, and mostly sane, extended family,
First in 1976 and again in 1980, I became a father. I have two sons: Steve and Doug. When Steve got married, I became a father-in-law. Theresa is Steve’s wife and Hadley’s mom.
In terms of nuclear family, my most recent transition was to grandpa. My miracle baby granddaughter, Hadley Marie, is a sweetheart and a blessing. Her photo below mine on this page. She was born in June 2012, eleven weeks early. I made fifty Facebook posts, Hadley Happening’s, over the sixty days Hadley was in NICU. The small, skinny, 2.5 pound NICU baby is now a normal active toddler. I thank God for her every single day. Her sister, Harper Ann, graced us all in November 2014 with NO problems. The girls are in the photo below.