The Thornton-Donovan School was founded in 1901 as The New Rochelle School and Kindergarten by Judge Martin Jerome Keogh. Judge Keogh offered his office space at 247 Main Street, New Rochelle, New York to serve 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 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, Thornton-Donovan School. Ms. Thornton retired in 1945, and the reins were handed over to Genevieve F. Burns (after 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 history. 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 50 years. 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.”
At Thornton-Donovan we realize that education is not purely academic. The whole child is developed by emphasizing values such as honesty, integrity, personal responsibility and good citizenship. Each T-D student knows that he or she is an international ambassador with conduct expected that honors that responsibility.
Although we are independent and non-denominational, there is a spiritual element – paying homage to all beliefs – which permeates the campus and all of our activities. Our atmosphere is intimate, calm and natural. You’ll notice straight away how different we feel compared with other schools.
T-D is always ready to help any student in need of face-to-face teaching. Because T-D is so small, agile, and forward thinking, T-D is willing to inherit new families and their children regardless of grade level and will give each student as much personal care and attention as they need.
Over a century in the making: About a half century ago Thornton-Donovan School began its thematic educational program and it made travel-study its most outstanding and unique characteristic. Each year’s theme allowed students to dance all around the globe and live the experiences that were taught and learned during a regular school year. At T-D the vicarious always turned to live and alive. In addition to reading, writing, math and sciences, from middle school on courses are selected based on interest and ability, not grade level. Students are encouraged to try the new theme-based yearly courses, to go deeper into an area of interest. Perhaps this year will include a class about Venetian glass, in which case younger students may be challenged with primary source materials on the subject together with their high school classmates. This applies to the regular curriculum as well; if they are capable, a 6th grader may find themselves doing calculus with an 11th grader; if they have the talent and the desire, an 8th grader may play an instrument alongside a senior. This mixing of the grades allows for dynamic class discussion, mentoring of younger students, and a feeling of freedom and opportunity for our youngsters. Our school offers an intimate and exciting academic community with thematic education at its core. This exceptional environment attracts an international group of dynamic and enthusiastic teachers. In short, at T-D faculty and students consider themselves world citizens, and each year distinguish themselves as ambassadors for our school and nation.