Isle of Wight County Schools

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Superintendent's Biography

Dr. Jim Thornton joined Isle of Wight County Schools as Division Superintendent in July 2015. Thornton has 16 years of experience as a superintendent, previously serving as the superintendent of Mecklenburg County Public Schools and Cumberland County Public Schools, in Virginia.  With more than 30 years of experience in education, he began his educational career as a teacher then later moved up the administrative ranks an athletic director, assistant principal, principal, and an assistant superintendent.

He received the Jefferson Professional Achievement Alumni Award for Distinguished Service and Leadership from Longwood University in 2011. In 2008, he was presented the Cumberland Branch NAACP Community Service Award.  Thornton also received the Region 8 Superintendent of the year award from the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and the Longwood University, College of Education and Human Services, 2007 Professional Who Made A Difference Award.

Thornton earned his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy from Virginia Tech, Master of Education in Supervision & Administration from Virginia State University, and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Longwood University. He and his wife Mary have two children, a son Sean who lives in Virginia Beach and a daughter Kelsey who attends Virginia Tech.


Under his leadership, the division has incorporated a project-based learning approach, with a focus on the 5 Cs (communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, citizenship) and deeper learning.  Schools host Expos where students share Presentations of Learning with the community.  The division has also implemented flexible seating, collaborative spaces, and coding in all elementary schools.  A complete redesign of the Career and Technical Education program has been embraced endorsed by the business community, as well as local and state officials.  Because of the efforts to prepare students to be college, career, and life-ready, in September 2018, Isle of Wight County Schools was recognized with a Workforce Innovation Award from the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board.