Anaheim, Calif. Superintendent Receives 18th Annual Save The Music Foundation Award for Distinguished Support of Music Education

February 18, 2023


Award Presented During AASA’s National Conference

San Antonio, Texas – February 18, 2023 – Christopher Downing, superintendent of Anaheim Elementary School District (AESD) in Anaheim, Calif., is the 2023 recipient of the Save The Music Foundation’s (STM) 18th annual Administrator Award for Distinguished Support of Music Education.

This prestigious award was presented at the National Conference on Education, hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

This award recognizes one superintendent or school district CEO who has exhibited outstanding commitment to restoring music education in his or her school district. Downing was chosen for his unwavering devotion to providing students across the city of Anaheim with a well-rounded education that includes music.

“To say that music education has been transformative for our district students is an understatement,” said Downing. “I am truly honored to accept this award on behalf of our board of education administrators, teachers, parents and amazing students. Because of music, our young people are more excited to go to school. Music is integral to their social and emotional development and provides them an outlet to express themselves and to connect with others.  Moreover, music education makes parents proud that their children receive enriched opportunities to which they would not have access otherwise.”

Since 2015, STM has supported Anaheim Elementary School District’s restoration of comprehensive music education across the district with both band and elementary musical instrument grant programs, music teacher professional development and ongoing program support, totaling $850,000 in grants to date. This project is fueled by a strategic partnership with Downing, who has pledged to ensure every student in the district has equitable access to music education, taught by qualified teachers as part of the regular school day.

“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.”

Students at AESD experience weekly music instruction from certified music teachers during the school day at its 24 school sites. The district continues to grow opportunities for students to experience music and arts instruction that reflects their cultural backgrounds through the state of California’s Expanded Opportunities Program and its long-term partnership with the Save The Music Foundation.

Past recipients of this award include: Elizabeth Lolli, superintendent, Dayton Public Schools (Ohio); Roger León, superintendent, Newark Public Schools (N.J.); Keely Roberts, superintendent, Zion Elementary District 6 (Ill.); Francisco Escobedo, superintendent, Chula Vista Elementary School District (Calif.); Nancy Sarra, superintendent, Consolidated School District of New Britain (Conn.); Kevin George, superintendent, St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools (La.); Russell Freitas, superintendent, Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District (Calif.); Kristi Wilson, superintendent, Buckeye Elementary School District (Ariz.); Reginald Mayo, retired superintendent, New Haven Public Schools (Conn.); Rita Bishop, superintendent, Roanoke City Public Schools (Va.); Kathy L. Kelly, superintendent, Columbia Heights Public Schools (Minn.); Duncan N. P. “Pat” Pritchett Jr., former superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools (Ind.); John Lange, former superintendent, Adams County School District 14 (Colo.); Carol Johnson, former superintendent, Memphis City Schools (Tenn.) and current superintendent, Boston Public Schools (Mass.); Richard Kaplan, superintendent, New Brunswick Public Schools (N.J.); Eugene White, retired superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools (Ind.); and James A. Williams, former superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools (N.Y.).

Regarded as the most comprehensive professional learning and networking event for school superintendents and administrators, AASA’s National Conference on Education addresses the most critical issues affecting public education today, including leading through the COVID-19 pandemic, health and wellness, equity in education, social and emotional learning, personalizing education, technology and school safety. 


About Save The Music Foundation:
Save The Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. For 25 years, Save The Music (STM) has addressed the systemic inequities in music education by investing in culturally rich communities across the U.S. Since its inception, STM has donated nearly $70M worth of instruments and technology to over 2,500 schools – impacting millions of students' lives in hundreds of communities nationwide. And we're just getting started! Learn more at

GET SOCIAL - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | #SaveTheMusic #MusicSaves

STAY CONNECTED - Join our list here

*Watch the 25th Anniversary video here

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit

About Anaheim Elementary School District
The Anaheim Elementary School district serves nearly 15,000 students at 24 campuses in the City of Anaheim, making it the largest elementary school district in the State of California. AESD is committed to providing engaging and equitable learning opportunities for all students through STEAM, Dual Language, and music education programs in TK through 6th grade. Award- winning schools, innovative programs, and one-of-a-kind community partnerships make AESD an educational leader in the region that prepares students for success in the 21st Century.

Learn more at w and follow us on social media:

Twitter: @AnaheimElem
Facebook: @AnaheimElementary
Instagram: @AnaheimElementary

YouTube: Anaheim Elementary School District


Save The Music Foundation – Zack Flores, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
Cell: 210-279-6334

AASA, The School Superintendent Association -  James Minichello
Director, Communications & Public Relations (703) 774-6953

Anaheim Elementary School District – Tatum Wan: