PAUL THORNTON is retiring after 36.5 years spent at Alton Central School. During his time, he worked with 18 different principals. Tim Croes. (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012ALTON — When Paul Thornton was growing up, school wasn't enjoyable.
"I hated school," Thornton said. "I was the student who always clowned around."
Thornton enrolled in the Navy out of high school and an experience volunteering at a children's hospital in Chicago changed his life. The seed was planted to work with kids.
While in the Navy, Thornton got offered a trip to Chicago but part of the ride was volunteering and working with a girl on Saturdays. The girl he worked with passed away eight months later, but Thornton then knew he wanted to be a teacher.
"I decided I wanted to work with kids," Thornton said.
He attended the University of Connecticut and began his student teaching at Alton Central School in January of 1976.
Thirty-six and half years later, he is retiring. Thornton spent his summers in the area and knew he wanted to come to Alton.
Thornton is happily married to his wife Betsy and has two children; Hope, who lives in England, and John, who lives in Nashua.
Thornton has taught many different subjects throughout his years at ACS and has spent the last eight years teaching science and language arts to fourth grade students. He also taught math to fifth and sixth grade students during his time at ACS.
During his tenure, Thornton has worked with 18 different principals and has seen the addition of computers and modern technology to the classroom.
He will definitely miss working with the students in the classroom.
"The kids are wonderful," Thornton added. "They are enthusiastic and are willing to learn and do anything you want them to do."
Thornton has seen the No Child Left Behind
Act take some of the fun out of classroom
"The kickball game is gone," Thornton said. "You will try to make everything in the classroom fun."
Through his years in the classroom, one of the things he loves is seeing the progress students have made.
"I look forward to seeing the kids at the end of the year, seeing the growth they've made," Thornton added. "I like finding the one thing that they excel in."
He made the decision to retire about a year and half ago and is happy about his time spent at ACS.
"It's been great being here," Thornton said. "I've never considered it a job."
Thornton has always found support from the students and parents, even if it wasn't immediate.
"Parents have come back years later and thanked me," Thornton added. "That's rewarding."
Thornton spends time volunteering for the Huggins Hospital Street Fair and is a Let's Go Fishing instructor.
Though he is retiring from teaching, Thornton will be moving on to a career as a trainer for Houghton Mifflin working with Math in Focus, which is based on Singapore math.
Tim Croes can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126