About Phil

Choosing to leave a promising career at Taco Bell over artistic differences, Phil Downs began teaching in Fort Wayne Community Schools in 1989 where he taught social studies and language arts, and coached soccer for eleven years. In 2001 he moved to Northwest Allen County Schools where he was Assistant Principal at Maple Creek Middle School and then opened Cedar Canyon Elementary in 2006 as its first Principal. He became the Assistant Superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools in 2010 and its Superintendent in 2014. Phil is a proud Boilermaker, earning his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2012. He has been married to Joleen since 1989 and they have two children. He will prattle on and on if you ask him about his hobbies.

Ph.D. in Education Leadership
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Graduate School of Education 2012 

Administrative Certification
Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (now known as PFW) 1999

M.S. Education Administration
Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (now known as PFW) 1996

B.S. Education
Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (now known as PFW) 1989

B.A. History
Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (now known as PFW) 1989

2021-Present Director of Education Graduate Programs and Accreditation— Trine University

2014-2021 Superintendent—MSD Southwest Allen County

2010- 2014 Assistant Superintendent—MSD Southwest Allen County 

2006-2010 Principal—Cedar Canyon Elementary—Northwest Allen County Schools

2001-2006 Assistant Principal/A.D.—Maple Creek Middle School—Northwest Allen County Schools

1989-2001 Teacher/Soccer Coach/Administrative Intern—Fort Wayne Community Schools

Independent Colleges of Indiana “Realizing the Dream Award” , 1995, sponsored by the Eli Lilly Foundation

Purdue Norbert Nelson Education Dissertation of the Year, 2012

Project Tomorrow Speak Up Shout Out National Superintendent of the Year 2016

Indiana Superintendent of the Year 2020

Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents Outstanding Educator Award 2022


2014-present: The Orthopedic Hospital—Board Member

2014-present: Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents—Member

2017-present: Friends of the Lincoln Collection—Board Member

2020-present: Purdue University EDST Advisory Board—Board Member

2020-present: Anthony Wayne Foundation—Board Member

2018-2021: American Association of School Administrators—National Governing Board 

2016-2021: EdLeader21—National Advisory Board 

2019-2021: AASA Education Administrative Scholarship Award Committee

2018-2019: Battelle For Kids—Problem of Practice Advisory Team

2020-2021: Comprehensive Center Network—Region 8 Board member

2014-2021: Indiana Region 8 Education Service Center—Advisory Board, past Chair

2014-2021: Upper Wabash Superintendent Study Council—Member, past President

2010-2014: Allen County Education Partnership—Board member

2007-2020: SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect)—Board member, past Board President

2002-2022: Mike Downs Center for the Study of Indiana Politics at PFW—Board President

2021-Present: Assistant Professor, Trine University. I teach Issues in American Education to undergraduates.

Summer 1996: Lecturer, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne (now known as PFW). I taught the graduate level course EDUC H530 “Philosophy of Education”.

Downs, P. (2017-present). Don’t worry, this won’t affect you: The impact of Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program on the funding of its public schools. Executive summary retrieved from https://drphildowns.com.

Downs, P. (2016). A practical (albeit slightly unconventional) approach to transform through the seven steps. EdLeader21 Annual Event, Denver.

Downs, P. (2016). Hacking technology into your lessons: Using the Stanford D-School protocol to fail forward, create small wins, and make progress. SACS In-service day, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Downs, P., Kleber, J., & Ginder, P. (2015). Evaluating teachers on eLearning days. Standards for Success Conference. Indianapolis, Indiana.

Downs, P., & Kleber, J. (2015). eLearning in kindergarten. Upper Wabash Valley Superintendent Study Council Winter Seminar. Huntington University, Indiana.

Downs, P., & Yager, S. (2014). The Southwest Allen County Schools compensation model. Northwest Indiana Superintendent Study Council. Munster, Indiana.

Downs, P. (2012). The impact of school accountability laws on measures of trust between Indiana public school superintendents and teacher union leaders within the forum of mandatory discussion (Doctoral dissertation). 

Parker, J., Holtrop, S., & Downs, P. (1996). Situations of oppression in the classroom: Case studies. Pedagogy of the Oppressed Conference, University of Nebraska-Omaha.