Wendy Thornton Settles into New Role as Director of Transition Program


Ms. Thorton poses for a picture. Photo/Mandy Scully

Grace Sewell

Ms. Thorton poses for a picture. Photo/Mandy Scully
Ms. Thorton poses for a picture. Photo/Mandy Scully

Following the retirement of Athletic Director Coach Bill Tompkins at the conclusion of the 2015 school year, many staff positions at Walpole High school were shuffled. Administration hired Boys hockey coach Ron Dowd for the position of athletic director, and with this change, Dowd’s previous position as the original director of the transition program was left open.

Following the loss of Dowd, the program was in search of a new director who had plenty of experience dealing with students. Administration’s search did not go far, as it found its new director, Wendy Thornton, right here at WHS.  Thornton has worked as a counselor in the school’s partnership program for the past nine years.

Now as the new director of the transition program, Thornton gives support to students who have been absent from school for an elongated period of time. In the past, students with concussions in particular have benefited from the program. The room provides a relaxed environment for students to get back into the routine of daily high school classes and social life, and it has become increasingly popular and useful over the past three years.

Thornton is accustomed to working with students on a one-on-one basis and giving them the individualized attention they need.

“Each student brings their own concerns and we tailor their transition to their specific needs,” said Thornton.

Prior to her years working at WHS, Thornton worked for a company that supported and assisted students in Department of Children and Families custody that had been separated due to family circumstances. Thornton’s job was to help reintegrate students into the community.

Seeing families utilize the community supports available to them in order to reunite was what I most enjoyed about the job,” said Thornton.

The valuable experience Thornton gained from working with kids in her past jobs with Department of Children and Families custody and Walpole High’s partnership program helped her become the top candidate for the position of transition program director. “Administration was looking to add a counseling component to the program,” said Thornton, “and my background in counseling students will help me work with them effectively to maintain their academic, social, and emotional well being.”

On top of having plenty of experience, Thornton enjoys working with high school kids.  Although Thornton has been a part of the WHS community for the past nine years, she has not had the opportunity to meet the majority of the student population, so she is excited to work with broader range of students.  As the year progresses, she looks forward to meeting with more students and helping them in their individual transition process.

“When I work with different students, I gain different perspectives of the issues that kids deal with on a daily basis,” said Thornton. “I enjoy helping students to develop and utilize different coping  strategies to combat the stressors in their everyday lives.”