Michael Thornton, Kindergarten Teacher, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

Michael Thornton, Kindergarten Teacher, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I lived in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area my entire youth. I moved away for a few years during college. After college I moved back to Charlottesville. I currently live in Fluvanna County.

What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in Lake Monticello but we are looking to move back to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
I have a beautiful wife who was also raised in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. We have 3 wonderful children. They are 5, 3, and 1.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in History degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. I also have a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Mary Baldwin College. I am currently working toward a Master of Education degree with an endorsement in Administration and Supervision from Liberty University.

What is your favorite part of classroom teaching?
My favorite part of teaching is helping students understand that learning goes beyond school. I love it when a student comes to me and wants to teach the class about something that they studied and/or investigated.

What is your favorite example of a rewarding experience you’ve had in the field of education?
1.  Two years ago, I was asked to present at a conference in Nashville, TN. I asked the organizer if my third graders could present instead of me. He loved that idea. My third grade students developed a one-hour presentation on using Twitter, Livebinders, and Skype in the classroom. They presented to over 300 educators via Skype.

2.  My students created a Livebinder that ended up being the number 1 Livebinder of 2011. There were over 100,000 Livebinders made that year from people all over the world. My students’ Livebinder were voted number 1 overall.

Why did you choose to teach?
I believe in education. I believe in learning. I became a teacher to give my students the opportunity to find their passion and direct their own learning.

If you had to pick one, what do you think is the single most important issue facing the public schools today?
As a whole, the educational system is behind. Public schools settle on the status quo too much. The system needs to be more progressive. We have to teach to the 21st century. In fact, we should be thinking ten years in advance. I ask myself, “what will my students need to be able to do in 10 years? What skills do they need to learn now to prepare them for an ever-changing future?”

What is a little-known fact about you?
I am an actor, singer and quasi-dancer.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I love hanging out with my family. I am always watching sports. I enjoy reading and watching movies/TV.