The Orlando Sports Foundation, in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, presented the $1000 Extra Yard for Teachers Award to Jen Downs of Sunridge Middle School, an Orange County Public School. This annual award is given to a teacher who exemplifies the finest qualities of a class room teacher with respect to professionalism and dedication to students. The award enables the recipient to purchase additional supplies for the classroom and students.
“Few teachers have given as much to their students as has Ms. Downs. Her LOVE of her students and her passion for teaching is evident each time she walks on this campus. Parents and students alike LOVE Ms. Downs!” said Amy McHale, the Sunridge Middle School Principal. Ms. Downs not only dedicates her time in the classroom to teaching science but also spends much of her own time in the evenings and on the weekends tutoring those students who might need a little extra help. “She is the most loving and compassionate teacher for all of our students,” said McHale. Ms. Downs, who is a breast cancer survivor, has been cancer free since 2019. As a breast cancer survivor, Ms. Downs represents the mission of the Orlando Sports Foundation, which is to “bring teams together to find a cure for cancer.”
Not only is Ms. Downs an incredible teacher, but she is also an extremely caring and empathetic person. Ms. Downs has fostered many children throughout the years. One of these foster children Ms. Downs adopted was Jackson, who attends Sunridge Middle School.
The Extra Yard for Teachers program is used by the College Football Playoff to inspire teachers from preschool to the twelfth grade.