Continuing the tradition of excellence: Downs named new CMS principal

By Blythe Alspaugh

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COVINGTON — When Courtney Downs was in third grade, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

“I was adamant that I was going to be a lawyer and it was going to be great,” Downs said. “When I first started looking at Defiance College, my advisor recommended not going pre-law because, if you change your mind, what are you going to do with a pre-law degree if you don’t go to law school?”

Downs decided to go into history and education because her classes overlapped enough with the pre-law track at Defiance. Part of the program allowed students in their first semester to work directly in the classroom with high school students. Her first experience working one-on-one with a high school senior in his government class sealed the deal for Downs.

“It clicked. He got what I was telling him, and that look — selfishly, I wanted that feeling a lot. Just that look on his face, I said, ‘I want this.’ I switched fully into education at 19 years old and never looked back,” Downs said. “Third grade me would not believe where I ended up.”

Downs graduated from Defiance College in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in integrated social studies with double minors in autism studies and history; by August of that year, she had begun her first full-time teaching job as a social studies teacher at Piqua High School.

While at Piqua, Downs participated in several leadership roles, including being part of the district leadership team, the building PBIS team, the building leadership team, and the supplemental negotiation team. She also served as the National Honor Society Co-Advisor, the Freshman Class Advisor, the Model United Nations Co-Advisor, and the History Day Coordinator. She earned the I Care Award in 2015 and 2022, the Piqua High School Outstanding Educator of the Year in 2019 and 2021, and the Miami County Excellence in Education Award in 2017 and 2018. She served as the cross country coach at Piqua High School from 2013 to 2019, and began coaching track and field at Covington High School in January of 2020.

For Downs, it’s not always the classroom that’s the most important place to foster educational moments and build up students, but the opportunities that are outside of the traditional classroom setting.

“You can be an advisor, you can be a coach. Seeing students in different roles—you see different aspects of them, and I don’t feel like you get that in any other field,” Downs said. “With students, having so many different outlets, you see a lot of different sides of them, and you get a realistic view of these kids.”

Her biggest inspiration comes from her husband, Brian Downs, who is the athletic trainer at Covington Schools.

“The way he can connect to our students blows my mind. It’s awesome to see, because he’s technically not in education, so to see the way he can connect with student athletes — I think it’s a nice inspiration to anyone not in education. You don’t have to be a trained teacher to be able to connect with students, or to teach,” Downs said. “It’s amazing what he’s able to do and different responsibilities he’s taken on, and it hasn’t impacted what he does here at all.”

As a Covington resident, she’s most excited to get to work in the community she considers home, and said that the only reason she ever would have left the Piqua school district was to take a position in Covington Schools.

“My daughter will go to this school district, so being able to have that impact and be hands-on, in the thick of it, is what I’m most excited about,” Downs said.

For incoming students, she wants them to know that the focus is on what they need.

“It’s going to be a very positive environment, and we’re going to focus on what this particular group of 7th and 8th graders need. Not those that came before them, not those that are coming up — what they need, here, and how we can best serve the students,” Downs said.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825