Faculty Spotlight: Valerie Thornton

Teacher - Second Grade Girls
Department and Program Affiliations:
Lower School

Academic background:
B.A., Psychology, University of Virginia
Additional coursework to earn VA certification at Norfolk State University
MAT, Regent University

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?
This is my 16th year at Norfolk Academy. My middle daughter and I came to NA together when she was in first grade.  She will graduate from college this year.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
Honestly, I have no idea what made me decide to become an educator. Initially, I thought I would follow in my mother's footsteps and become a nurse but that didn't work out so I decided to become a teacher and I am thrilled with the decision! I love the children and I love the opportunity to make an impact on the future! Now in my 27th year, I am still convinced that God led me to this profession and that it is where I am to leave my legacy.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
The thing that excites me most about working at Norfolk Academy is having the opportunity to see my students grow up into beautiful, productive young ladies. A school at which I worked prior to coming to NA, was a K-2 school in the Chesapeake Public School System. The students moved on to another school after second grade and since I taught second grade, I typically never saw most of them again. I love that at NA I have the opportunity to watch my students grow up into young adulthood and often further when they come back to visit.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
...of many reasons.  Most importantly to me is the connectedness of the students and faculty. Because we are grades 1-12 on a single campus, we are able to have programs such as first and twelfth grade and second and sixth grade buddies and all-school seminar days. Students are able to form close bonds with teachers and I believe it is these relationships which draw alumni back to campus to visit their teachers and their old classrooms to frolic through memories of years gone by.

Last book read:
The last book I read was Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham. I also just finished listening to the audiobook of The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks. Currently, I am on my nonfiction rotation and I am reading two books: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum and Move: What 1,000 Reveal About Spiritual Growth by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson.

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?  
There is not a lot of time when I'm not working, but in those few scattered moments, I love to hang out with my family, read, cook, and bake for my new bakery business.
Favorite food?
I just love food! But I guess my favorite would be surf and turf—steak and crab legs—with home-fried potatoes and broccoli.

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you?
While there are sure to be many famous and talented actresses vying for the part, I believe they would finally settle on Angela Bassett. She is a strong, independent woman who has, throughout her career, shown that she is extremely versatile. And yet, she has a quiet presence, not flashy or brash. She’s perfect for the part—sure to garner an academy award.

Fun fact your students might not know about you/might find surprising:
When I was a student at UVA, I drove transit buses. My favorite part of this job was when I would drive a charter for the football team. I had to drive the team to dinner and a movie the night before the game. On gameday I’d drive them to the game and back to University Hall after the game. That was a lot of fun if they won, but if they lost, it was a real downer on the bus.

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
...the owner of a Bed and Breakfast.