Receiving the Presidential Award is both confirming and empowering. Being chosen by distinguished colleagues in the field helps validate my passion to have students develop the skills and practices necessary to do scientific inquiry. I strongly believe in students “doing” science and hope that I can use this endorsement to empower others to help develop the next generation of scientists.

Susan Downer Amherst, NH | 7-12, Science, 2019

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Susan “Sue” Downer has spent her 25-year teaching career as a science educator at Souhegan High School. She has taught chemistry, Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry, astronomy, and robotics. She has also served as the Science Department Coordinator. In her current role, she teaches 10th-12th grade Chemistry and AP Chemistry. Sue has a strong belief that students should “do” science, and that content most certainly needs to be learned, but science needs to be practiced. She believes that her role has evolved from being a deliverer of information to a facilitator for uncovering science. This has led her to develop inquiry-based curriculum that uses the tenets of project-based learning, science and engineering practices informed by Next Generation Science Standards, and performance assessment in her classroom. Sue is currently a chemistry content lead for the State of New Hampshire’s pilot project for Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE). She was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the New Hampshire Science Teachers Performance Assessment Symposium in 2018. She is a member of the American Association of Chemistry Teachers and the National Science Teaching Association. Sue received her B.A. in chemistry from St. Anselm College and her M.S. in chemistry from Boston College. She is certified to teach chemistry in the state of New Hampshire.