Thornton-Donovan School History
The Thornton-Donovan School was founded in 1901
as The New Rochelle School and Kindergarten by Judge Martin Jerome
Keogh. Judge Keogh's wife brought to his attention that a Kindergarten
was desperately needed to serve their neighborhood of New Rochelle.
Judge Keogh offered his office space at 247 Main Street, New Rochelle,
New York as the school's first home.
A teacher was of course needed, and Emily Scott Thornton, a graduate of
the University of Nottingham, UK answered the Keogh's call. Off to a
wonderful start and growing in popularity, Cleophe Donovan joined the
school in 1904 to teach the incoming youngsters, while Ms. Thornton
moved up with the older children.
In recognition of their commitment to their vision and years of
dedicated service, the school was renamed in their honor,
Ms. Thornton retired in 1945, and the reins were handed over to
Genevieve F. Burns (for whom the school's library is named). Over the
years, the school had grown significantly, and a larger space was
necessary. In 1967 the school's current site, the red brick mansion at
100 Overlook Circle was selected. Thornton-Donovan had found its new
home in the New Rochelle community which had been so important to its
In 1968, Douglas E. Fleming, Jr., a graduate of Iona College and
Columbia University, was chosen to take the helm. Ms. Thornton's
philosophies and the essential spirit of the school have been faithfully
carried out by Mr. Fleming for more than 40 years. During this time, Mr.
Fleming has been responsible for the education and guidance of thousands
of students, from down the road and across the globe. He continues to
serve the school in Ms. Thornton's same "...free and generous...kindly,
humorous spirit" that she said "has been the very life of all our work."