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2.7.2024 |

Community Lead: Kendra Thornton

Kendra Thornton, a neuroeducation expert and former school counselor, is pushing traditional education forward with a focus on student well-being and innovative learning practices.

What is your name?

Kendra Thornton

Where do you call home?

St. Petersburg, Florida (United States)

How does education fit into your life?

I’m a life-long learner with a passion for revolutionizing education. Whether working as a school counselor, principal, therapist, or researcher, my motivation never changes: Children's well-being drives all decision-making.

What brought you to educational innovation?

When I earned my doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, I specialized in neuroeducation. During that time, I was exposed to so much wonderful, exciting research about how the brain learns best, but these innovative practices were not being implemented at the school where I worked. I transitioned from my counselor role to a director role so I could start creating changes that would benefit our students. 


What are your biggest inspirations in educational innovation?

I would love to see our definition of ‘school’ expand beyond the school building and traditional school hours, connecting more with our communities. Students finding creative solutions to real-world problems, having autonomy to self-direct their learning, collaborating with empathy, and practicing critical thinking skills is ideal! Students could move at an individualized pace, rather than be dominated by bell schedules. We must move away from rote fact memorization and standardized tests and move towards student portfolios with alternative assessments.

Lego Learning.jpg

Play-based learning is one way to support wellbeing in schools

What challenges do you see facing the educational system today?

Our students' emotional well-being must be at the forefront of conversations in education today. Mental health, social isolation, chronic stress, and anxiety are just some of the things that impact students’ readiness to understand and retain information. The emotional climate of our classroom sets the tone for learning. Kids must feel safe and known to thrive.

What are your hopes for the future of education?

My hope is for the inspirations I mentioned above to become our new reality. Decisions will be made with students' best interest as the motivating factor.

St. Pete Pier.jpg

Kendra is based out of St. Petersburg, Fl

Why did you choose to become a Community Lead?

I am thrilled that HundrED is highlighting Wellbeing as its newest spotlight! As a licensed mental health therapist with expertise in SEL, I'm eager to partner with them on this critically important topic.

What are your goals as a Community Lead?

I’m eager to partner with other Community Leads around our areas of interest. We have such diverse life lenses and will learn so much from each other by sharing common goals seen through different perspectives.

How can our members get involved?

Whatever your gifts, expertise, or passion may be, your voice is welcome at this table. Please consider offering your time to review innovations as an academy member, share the exciting work HundrED is doing with your social networks, and use HundrED’s incredible library as a resource to expand upon the global work already underway.

Continue the conversation! Connect with Kendra.