School Board proposes naming Smithfield High CTE building for retiring superintendent

Published 4:50 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

Isle of Wight County’s School Board plans to name Smithfield High School’s career and technical education building the “Thornton Career Center” in honor of retiring Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton.

Thornton oversaw a multimillion-dollar countywide renovation of the school system’s career and technical education facilities in 2017. The detached Smithfield High facility became home to Isle of Wight County Schools’ new welding, nursing, engineering, manufacturing and culinary arts programs – including a student-run restaurant named “Turner & 10” for the school’s location at Route 10 and Turner Drive. The project also included the addition of a greenhouse and horticulture program at Windsor High School, as well as a working salon run by cosmetology students and a working farm behind Windsor Elementary for agriculture students.

“Dr. Thornton made it his mission, and the mission of Isle of Wight County Schools, to ensure students were graduating with skills and certifications necessary to be immediately employed by local industries,” said School Board Chairwoman Denise Tynes.

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“Other school systems are looking at our CTE program, and we have the model because of Dr. Thornton,” added Vice Chairman Michael Cunningham. “We had a district come by a couple weeks ago to see our program and I know they were impressed, but I do believe they’re going to take some of what they’ve seen back to their school system.”

Tynes surprised Thornton by announcing the name change at the board’s June 9 meeting – Thornton’s last as superintendent. Thornton, who will retire effective June 30, called it “an amazing honor.”

“CTE is very close to my heart,” Thornton said. “There’s so many careers out there and most of those careers there’s shortages now because we haven’t concentrated on all those areas.”

Citizens have until June 30 to comment on the proposed name change by emailing School Board Clerk Tracey Reutt at The School Board plans to formally vote on the renaming at its July 14 meeting.