PE/HEALTH TEACHER FOR GRADES MONTESSORI-5

                                                 Welcome Message/Announcements

     Hello everyone! My name is Mr. Downey and welcome to this Gym Corner  Website.  I am the PE/Health Teacher at Brookside Elementary School for  Grades Pre-K (Montessori)-5th Grade.  I have been working here for 17 years,  and want to greet all of you Students, Parents, and Newcomers. We have  a wonderful Elementary School, and you should be very pleased when you walk into this building. "Be Kind is our Motto," and we have a very caring and loving staff at Brookside. In Physical Education and Health students learn about the Basic Sports, Games, Exercise, Locomotor and Non Locomotor Movements, Nutrition, Safety,  Personal Hygiene, and Physical Fitness Subjects. My Goals as a PE /Health Teacher are to get the Students Physically Fit and Active, and make sure they have a fun, learning experience in Gym. Teaching students good sportsmanship, having respect for their peers and teachers, and being a fine role model and team player, is something students will learn at Brookside  School. 

This year I'm planning to do some new activities and games, designed to keep the children active and inspired.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of you, and may the 2022/2023 school year be a great one for everybody. If you have any questions,  or concerns feel free to contact me at any time. My email address is, and the school Phone # where you can reach me is 203-899-2830. ext. #22402.

                                                   P.E. NEWS FOR March 2023

Dear Parents and Students: 

This past February Month was Heart Month for the students at Brookside School. The students took part in the annual Jump Rope for Heart week where there were four station  activities: Station 1) The giant Batman Bouncy House where students could jump, play Basketball, boxing and kickboxing. Station 2) Jump Ropes where students had to try and jump forward, backwards, side to side, straddle jump, crossies, double under, 5,10, 20 or more times, and long roping. Station 3) exercise jamboree where there were jogging trampolines, exercise ladders, hurdles, balance boards, and fit boards, pogo sticks, pogo balls, and rock island. Station 4) the gigantic 50' zip it obstacle course and slide. The students were split up into groups of about five students at each station for five minutes and rotated on the whistle signal. Students had  a lot of fun that week, and learned about the importance of daily exercise to prevent heart disease. Students raised close to $2,000 in donations for the American Heart Association, which was fantastic this year. Thank you to all of our students and parents who participated and donated. A special thanks to the PTO and Parent helpers who helped during this program and made it such a success. (See photos above and below here). During the Month of March students are starting their unit on Volleyball.


Mr. Downey

                                                                                                              About Mr. Downey and the PE Program at Brookside School

Mr. Downey has been a PE teacher for over 27 years. He worked for 10 years in the Bridgeport Public Schools, and over 17 years at Brookside School. The following Photos show some of his background in Teaching and in his Life.  As you scroll down below you will see the many things that Brookside school has to offer our students in the way of Physical Education, Field Trips, the Norwalk River Fun Run, Heart Challenge Week, Field Day, etc. 

                                                                                                                    Mr. Downey's Work with Children around the World 

Mr. Downey has worked with kids in Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal,  and fifteen consecutive summers (from 2001-2015) with the Crow Indian children at Crow Agency, Montana. Since he was a young boy he loved American history and wanted to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield where the Indians fought a great battle against General Custer and the 7th Cavalry in 1876. Little did Mr. Downey realize that years later he would be working with the Crow Indian children, whose relatives fought alongside General Custer. Working with these children became one of the greatest experiences of his life. Today Mr. Downey plans to write a book about his experience called: "SUMMER DREAMS ALONG THE LITTLE BIGHORN." The book will include interviews with the actual direct descendants of the Crow Indians that scouted for General Custer back in 1876. Some of this information has never been released before.  Mr. Downey is also a photographer. He spent over ten years photographing the Native Americans. His pictures have appeared on national television and can be seen today in a large coffee table book published by Blurb. Com entitled: "THE CROW FAIR." 

                                                    Mr. Downey's Journey to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina

In 1988 Mr. Downey was at a crossroads in his life. He wondered if he should continue with his Professional Tennis Career, or turn to School Teaching. He decided to make a pilgrimage (journey) to the Shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina (formerly the Country of Yugoslavia). Like Fatima in Portugal, Medjugorje is one of the world's greatest Marian shrines. Over forty million people have visited the shrine since 1981. After experiencing tremendous peace, and a physical healing in the village of very painful bone spurs on his feet, Mr. Downey felt a calling from God to turn to school teaching. He realized there was more to life than just hitting a tennis ball. He also became heavily involved in trying to help the refugees during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in 1993-1997. In 1996 Mr. Downey was able to capture the reported Miracle of the Sun on video in Medjugorje and was interviewed about the story for a National TV program called: "Miracles and Visions, Fact or Fiction?" This program was narrated by Roma Downey, and can still be seen today on Amazon Prime. In 2006 he returned again to Medjugorje to do a one day Sports Camp for the war orphan children there. Working with these children was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. The children pictured here with Mr. Downey had all lost their parents during the war. The young girl in the yellow shirt (see photo above) made a profound impact on Mr. Downey. She came up to him at the end of the day and said: "thank you for coming." To this day he has never forgotten these kids. 

                                                                           Exciting Field Trips for the Brookside School Students

Mr. Downey has led a number of field trips for the Fifth Graders over the years. One of the most popular trips has been to Howe Caverns, New York. The students visit nationally renowned Howe Caverns, the Old Stone Fort Museum in Schoharie County, NY, and the Old Howe's Cave entrance. In 2018 and 2019 Brookside school fifth Graders were the first and largest Elementary school  ever to go down into the Old historical section of Howe's Cave in almost 100 years. Mr. Downey's second Uncle the great Alton Jim Van Natten led the last tour into Howe's Cave in 1929. 

                                                                                                A Visit to The Old Stone Fort Museum in Schoharie County, New York

Brookside School Students at the Old Stone (Revolutionary War) Fort Museum with Daniel Beams the Curator of the Museum and some other reenactors.

                                                                                                                                       The Iroquois Indian Museum Field Trip

The Iroquois Indian Museum has also been one of the places in New York State that the Brookside school students have visited while seeing Howe Caverns. The Museum is run by the renowned Mike Tarbell a  Mohawk Indian Guide from Canada. He is the Curator of the Museum and is seen here talking to the 5th Grade students about Native American history and culture. Mike Tarbell has been on the Discovery Channel.

                                                                                                                                      A Disc Golf Field Trip to Cranberry Park

These pictures show the Disc Golf Field Trip to Cranberry Park in Norwalk, CT. In 2009 Mr. Downey invited Steve Brinster one of the top three Disc Golfers in the World to teach our Brookside School 4th and 5th Graders how to play Disc Golf. The students were amazed at Steve Brinsters throwing ability. He could throw a disc between 500-600 feet and roll it on the ground the same distance. In these photos he is showing the Brookside school students how to grip the disc, how to throw and putt into the metal basket.If you wish to see this on UTUBE type in Brookside School Disc Golf. This field trip was the first one ever held in Disc Golf for Elementary Students in the town of Norwalk, CT.  Mr. Downey plans to have his students play this Sport again this year. He also hopes to bring his 4th and 5th Grade students back to Cranberry Park as soon as the Covid-19 virus is over.

                                                                                                                             The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Field Trip

This was another field trip the Brookside Students took with Mr. Downey and the 5th Grade Teachers. They visited the  Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.

                                                                                                                                                       Cave Exploration

Mr. Downey is a Spelunker (Cave Explorer). He is a member of the NSS (NATIONAL SPELEOLOGICAL SOCIETY) of which there are 2000 members in the United States today. Over the years he has been on a number of adventurous Cave Expeditions in New York State, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachussetts, Vermont, CT, and Montana.  He was involved with his late father Clark Downey, brother Christopher, and friends in the 1965 Schroeder's Pants Cave Tragedy. This story appeared in the major newspapers around the country and changed Spelunking history forever. In 2006 after writing an article about the incident for the NSS (National Spelunking Society) Magazine he travelled to Bellingham, Washington to speak about the story for the NSS Caving Convention.  He has also visited other Caves in the Countries of Portugal and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two photos in the upper left hand corner were taken at Schroeder's Pants Cave in Upstate NY. The larger photo on the right shows Mr. Downey with two Brookside School fifth Grade students at Howe Caverns.

                                                                                                                                                      Travel Experiences

Mr. Downey has travelled to many different places in America and other countries. The above photos show him at Devils Tower in Wyoming, Pretty Eagle Canyon in Montana, and MT Washington in New Hampshire. He has also been to the Countries of Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, England, Portugal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Mexico. other photos above show his recent trip to Italy and Medjugorje in 2023.

                                                                                   Mr. Downey's passion though is working with the students at Brookside School. 

Since coming to Brookside School in 2006 Mr. Downey has had some of the most memorable experiences of his life. Seeing the kids have fun in Gym, watching them grow and learn about all of the Sports and Games they play, and what it means to be a good sport and team player is what makes his profession all the more worthwhile. In Mr. Downey's own words: "Brookside School is a very special place, and our students are the best!

                                                     A visit to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. The Brookside School students loved this trip.

                                                                                                                 Photos of one of our Annual Brookside School Field Days

                                                                                   Photos of 100's Day in Gym, and a Pool Noodle Activity with Kindergarteners

                              Photos of the Disc Golf Field Trip to Cranberry Park in 2010, and the Bowling Field Trip to Rip Van Winkle Lanes in Norwalk, CT

                                                                                  Mr. Downey was a Professional Men's Tennis Player before he became a PE Teacher

Mr. Downey was a Professional Men's Tennis player, having been ranked #9 Nationally in the United States Men's 21 and Under's, and #565 in the World on the Men's ATP Tennis computer rankings in 1980.  He possessed one of the fastest recorded tennis serves in Professional Men's Tennis at 148 mph. He has also played against such great tennis stars as John McEnroe, and Ivan Lendl. Mr. Downey had dreams of becoming the best tennis player in the world,  but he got injured in 1988 and had to retire. Thanks to his late father Clark Downey,  also a Tennis Professional, who pushed him into Education, he became a PE Teacher.  Mr. Downey always tells his students that you should always have something to fall back on in life,  just in case your dreams don't pan out. Mr. Downey says study hard in school,  listen to your teachers, respect your peers and adults, work hard and stay busy in your life. Mr. Downey believes it is not important to be rich and successful in life, rather it is important to be happy and at peace with yourself knowing that you gave it your all at what ever you do. Never give up on your dreams. Always strive to be the best you can be. If something doesn't work out then find something else you like to do. Everybody has a talent out there.  In the words of the great Martial artist Bruce Lee, who Mr. Downey admires 'It is great to wish for things and hope for things in life, but if you're not willing to work hard for them it is meaningless to have such goals.'  Work hard, stay busy and you can do anything, Mr. Downey says.

                                Here are some photos of different Games and Sports Activities we play in Gym such as Capture the Flag Game using a Football.

                                                                                                                                                 Other Activities and Games We Play

Besides playing Sports like Soccer, Football, Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Volleyball, and Floor Hockey we also play The Games of Hocker, Dodgeball and the Adventure Climbing activity, plus the Parachute at Brookside School.

                                                Pictures of some of our Brookside School Students playing Soccer in Gym class along with Capture the Flag using a shirt.

                                                                                                                  The Norwalk River Fun Run and Heart Challenge Week

For years the Norwalk Public Schools has been running the Norwalk River Fun Run for all students and families. This wonderful event was started and created by Mr. Tom Kretch a former Norwalk PE Teacher. Every December 1st, students come out to Veterans Park and run, jog, and walk a 1.2 mile course to the Maritime Aquarium. Each year the PE teachers and Mr. Downey volunteer their time to make this event a big success for families and friends in the Norwalk, CT Community. If you haven't experienced this event please come out and join us this year.  Heart Challenge week is the time when students learn about the importance of  staying physically fit and the dangers of Heart disease. Students get to raise money for the American Heart Association, and have a super fun time with different activities that are set up on the Gym. Activities include Jumping rope with long and short ropes, Pogo sticking and balancing activities, exercise ladders and hurdles, along with an obstacle challenge course and Bouncy House.

                                                                                                                                   Field Day a Big Event at Brookside School

One of the best days of the year at Brookside is Field Day. Brookside School holds an all day field day involving 12-14 events. The events include the egg toss, the Potato Sack Race, the Soccer Kick, the Football Throw, the Three legged Race, a Giant Bouncy House. A giant Water Slide, 10' Ogo Balls, an Obstacle Course, a Quarter Mile Run for both Boys and Girls, a Tug of War tournament, a giant Water slide, Ogo Balls, Dodgeball, Basketball, Volleyball, Parent and Staff events, etc. 

                                                                                                                               Fundraisers, School Plays, and Special Events

If you have ever been to one of Mrs. Difebo's incredible School Plays, which are some of the best in the Country you might just see Mr. Downey there. He usually dresses up in different costumes for the Plays, and enjoys surprising the students during Halloween, Fund Raisers, and Special Events. The above pictures show him as a flying Monkey with Isabel Soto, who played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,  Boss Baby with two Brookside school boys, and a Mexican Guitar player with Ricki from the Movie: "Coco."

                                                                                                                                                  A  Trip to Juarez, Mexico

In 1998 after the passing of his late father, Mr. Downey travelled to Juarez, Mexico with a couple of Maryknoll Priests and worked with a group of orphan children there. The experience in Mexico was a life changing one for him.  Juarez is one of the toughest and poorest places around. Mr. Downey brought  with him some PE equipment for the kids to play with there, and they loved this. The kids wanted to play soccer, football, Hula Hoops, and Jump Rope, and were absolutely wonderful. In working with these children Mr. Downey found that they were just like the kids at Brookside. Kids are kids wherever you go he believes.  Mr. Downey has never forgotten the children of Mexico, and wonders how they are all doing today.  Some of our Brookside students are originally from Mexico and different Latin American countries showing the diverse cultures we have at our school. Many of these kids remind Mr. Downey of the kids he worked with in Juarez, Mexico.  Brookside school is a very special place filled with wonderful children, staff members, and teachers.  May everyone have a great Brookside School year ahead!