Thornton cherishes her walk in faith with her students
Published 12:33 pm Thursday, January 23, 2020
This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors.
For nearly two decades, Joan Thornton has worked to positively influence the lives of the students who attend Vicksburg Catholic Schools, specifically those at St. Aloysius.
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Thornton, who has served as a computer teacher, learning service coordinator and head of the school’s theology department, said students look to her and the examples she sets in their own educational development. Thornton’s current role is head of the theology department.
“Since God reveals himself to us in many different ways, it is important to teach students to explore different styles of prayer and be able to recognize God at work in their lives,” Thornton said in her Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year application. “[Students] come to realize that prayer nourishes me in every aspect of my life and living faith.”
Thornton is one of the area teachers nominated for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year awards.
The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon on Feb. 25. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.
Thornton received a personal and industrial relations degree from Memphis State University and is a certified catechist as well as a certified teacher through the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
In her application, Thornton shared a story of how some of her teaching, specifically the practice of Christian meditation, helped one of the school’s student-athletes.
“Teaching centering styles of prayer not only allows time for the students to take time and quietly pray, but it allows them to utilize it in both private and public experiences,” Thornton writes. “After having taught and regularly practiced Christian meditation, a very smart and athletically-gifted student shared with me after having won the state championship the following: ‘Mrs. Thornton, I was really nervous, so I stepped away from the pool and meditated. It calmed me down and I was able to swim the best relay of my life. We won state!'”
Thornton joined Vicksburg Catholic Schools in 2000 as a computer teacher and computer tech. In 2001 she was named learning service coordinator and added the role of liturgy coordinator to her responsibilities in 2006. Also in 2006, Thornton began teaching theology and was named the chair of the theology department.
In addition to a number of other projects and programs, Thornton also helps lead the prayer labyrinth project with the school’s seniors each year.
“Teaching theology is a true privilege and large responsibility,” she said. “It is not one to be taken lightly. The students show me everyday how God is alive and working in the world and in my life.
“I am truly blessed to walk along as they grow in relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”