Thornton-Donovan School

Phone: (914) 632-8836



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 Thornton-Donovan 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 Thornton-Donovan faculty and students consider themselves world citizens, and each year distinguish themselves as ambassadors for our school and nation.

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Fully Recognized:

Thornton-Donovan is proud to be Cognia accredited, and has been recognized for its support of students with high academic potential by the Johns Hopkins University Center. We are in the 95th percentile of the most diverse private schools in America while also being in the top 20% K-12 Schools in the country. Thornton-Donovan also has many sister schools across the globe, including La Rochelle in France, and twenty others located anywhere from Africa to South America.

Thematic Education:

With each and every yearly theme, new courses are introduced to broaden our thinking and students from grades 6-12 are invited to select a few. All of Thornton-Donovan’s thematic courses are taught for only one year. They are integrated within Thornton-Donovan’s regular curriculum which can best be described as classical and Western. For 2017-’18 the school family focused on the Balkans and Albania was the main focus. During 2018-’19 the school focused on Mongolia. Some classes were Empires of the Steppes, History of Life, Ologies and Isms, World War I, Cavalry, The Silk Road and Threads, Vulcans Trove, Shamans & Katabats, Hold Your Horses (Music), Explaining Life (Zoology), The Hidden World (Microbiology) and Facing East (Religion).

Humble Beginnings:

Thornton-Donovan is Westchester’s only “Little Red Schoolhouse.” Thornton-Donovan School was founded in 1901 as The New Rochelle School and Kindergarten by Judge Martin Jerome Keogh. Emily Scott Thornton, a graduate of the University of Nottingham, UK became one of the schools first teachers. Cleophe Donovan joined the school in 1904 to teach the incoming youngsters, while Ms. Thornton was teaching 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.

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