- May 19, 2016
7:30 am - 9:30 am
Join regional business leaders for a conversation with Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton about the progress and challenges of the Baltimore City Public Schools system.
When: Thursday, May 19, 2016; 7:30 a.m. registration and breakfast, 8:15 a.m. remarks by Dr. Gregory Thornton
Where: Greater Baltimore Committee Offices, 111 S. Calvert St., Suite 1700, Baltimore, MD 21202
This event is open to GBC member companies and employees of GBC member companies.
Dr. Gregory E. Thornton comes to Baltimore City Public Schools from Milwaukee Public Schools in Wisconsin, a district similar in size to City Schools, where he served as superintendent from July 2010 to June 2014. The Milwaukee superintendency was the latest in a series of leadership posts Dr. Thornton has held in large urban school districts, and in which he consistently has improved student achievement. He shares Baltimore’s commitment to children, and his accomplishments over the years align closely with City Schools’ priorities and areas of reform focus.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Dr. Thornton attended Philadelphia public schools and then Temple University, where he received his degree in elementary education in 1977. He went on to teach and, in short order, became a school principal; between 1981 and 1997, he served as principal at four different elementary and high schools in Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina. In 1997, Dr. Thornton moved into district-level administration and began a solid trajectory toward district leadership. He subsequently earned his Master of Arts degree in Administration/Supervision at Salisbury State University in Maryland and his doctorate in Educational Leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
From late 1997 to mid-1998, Dr. Thornton served as coordinating director of secondary schools for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. From there he became assistant superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools until mid-2002, when he moved to Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland to serve first as community superintendent, overseeing 36 schools, and then as deputy superintendent of the then 140,000-student, $1.6 billion system. There, Dr. Thornton focused on the development of innovative programs to attract and retain families; forged partnerships with local government, colleges, universities, and businesses; helped the district develop a strategy to tackle achievement gaps between different student subgroups; and developed a relationship, through outreach and regular communication, with Montgomery County’s rapidly changing community.
In summer 2004, Dr. Thornton became chief academic officer of the School District of Philadelphia, overseeing all facets of the instructional, school management, accountability, policy, and compliance programs of the 190,000-student, $2.2 billion district and its then 272 schools. In Philadelphia, Dr. Thornton built district capacity to develop leadership and to leverage data to inform instruction. He also oversaw the transformation of 22 large high schools into 60 smaller, themed schools and worked with business and community partners including the Franklin Institute, Microsoft, and the National Constitution Center to develop innovative, rigorous high schools.
In summer 2007, the governor of Pennsylvania tapped Dr. Thornton to serve as superintendent of the Chester Upland School District. A small district in southeastern Pennsylvania, Chester was in state receivership, and Dr. Thornton was charged with developing and implementing a strategic plan to guide the growth and stability of the instructional, operational, fiscal, and capital components of the district.
During his tenures in Montgomery County, Philadelphia, and Chester, Dr. Thornton oversaw annual increases in student achievement.
In summer 2010, Dr. Thornton moved to Milwaukee, where critical data showed student achievement on the rise under his leadership. High school graduation rates were up for students, and more students went on to college, thanks to expanded college and career readiness efforts, including the establishment of two College Access Centers. Scholarship dollars increased from $18 million for the Class of 2012 to $24 million for the Class of 2013. Like Baltimore City, Milwaukee participates in the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment, and TUDA results from December 2013 showed Milwaukee student achievement scores not only on the rise, but growing at a faster pace than the national average in reading and mathematics. Other academic achievements included the development of comprehensive literacy, mathematics, and science programs aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the adoption of online benchmark assessments for all grades; establishment of the highest number of public Montessori schools in the country; and the highest concentration in the country of hands-on science, math, technology, and engineering experiences through Project Lead the Way.
Dr. Thornton has made significant progress in creating a more efficient, more transparent district office. He instituted financial changes that reduced pension liabilities by half and stabilized district finances. He focused on cultivating positive school climates, which resulted in a reduction in suspensions. Art, music, and physical education were restored after having been cut dramatically. And Dr. Thornton’s efforts to engage external partners resulted in nearly $79 million in grants to Milwaukee Public Schools since 2012, along with Milwaukee Public Schools-exclusive scholarship programs with numerous institutions, including Morehouse College.
In Baltimore, Dr. Thornton sees an opportunity to broaden the reach of his work to date, and to build on the progress of the last several years to make sure all students graduate positioned to succeed in college, career training, jobs, and life overall.
Source: Baltimore City Public Schools
Venue: Greater Baltimore Committee