Kendra Thornton
Ambassador, Academy, Advisory

Kendra Thornton

Cincinnati, United States

We must revolutionize our approach to education to successfully prepare students for an unknowable future.

I am incredibly passionate about innovative approaches to learning. While earning my EdD in Mind Brain and Teaching (Neuroeducation) at Johns Hopkins, I became very aware of the importance of research-based holistic approaches to education. I believe that students can't focus on academics until they feel safe and have their emotional needs met. Research supports the benefits of stress-reduction to long-term retention of information. I'm a mental health therapist and crisis counselor devoting my career to supporting the social-emotional health of students.  When I was promoted to the role of principal, I employed strategies to improve the emotional wellness of my students. When I left the school setting, I was able to use my expertise to design an online mental health curriculum intended to reduce stigma and misconceptions. 

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

HundrEd is on the cutting edge of innovation in education! I visit the site when preparing blogs or presentations because the information is founded in research and well-sourced. It also offers wonderful new ideas and approaches educators can apply to their own craft. I love any environment that encourages experimentation and creates a safe space to share what is learned from failed ventures. I'm proud to be part of an organization that holds the same vision that I hold for the future of education. 

How can education support students to flourish?

Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, yet, in many American school systems we continue to prioritize lectures, rote instruction and assessments based on how much content students can memorize then regurgitate at exam time. Students benefit from real-world application in blended learning environments that connect content to their lives and values. If they understand the purpose at the onset, they engage in their pursuit of competency at a deeper level and are more likely to persevere through obstacles. A growth mindset empowers students to welcome challenges and embrace failure as a learning tool.  

What role does innovation play in education change?

Accelerating innovation in school design is the only way we can adequately prepare students for the 21st Century. By 2030, 85% of jobs that will exist are positions that haven’t been invented yet and over 2 billion current jobs will not exist anymore. While automation and AI increasingly disrupt our job market, we cannot rely on an outdated one-size fits-all education model to close the achievement gap. This is a disservice to students as it doesn’t prepare them to be critical thinkers and creative collaborators. The research and resources generated by the HundrED community proves they understand the field of education is institutionalized in its processes and truly needs advocates to accelerate practices and policies.