Where Stem Learning Happens

Wayne Thornes

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About Me!

I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Science, and now have over 30 years of experience at all levels of education, including 16 working at the middle school level and 12 working with elementary school kids. Over those years, I had the opportunity to teach each of the core subjects, though I specialized in mathematics, earning a Master’s in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona, where I focused on Mathematics Education, as well as National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics. In 2009 I left the classroom and became a Curriculum and Technology Integration Specialist, and began a 6 year period in which my focus was working with elementary school teachers through professional development, co-teaching, and cognitive coaching on blending teaching pedagogy with interactive technology tools. I maintained my connection with mathematics by teaching Math Methods to pre-service elementary teachers at the Tucson campus of Northern Arizona University, in addition to my regular work at the schools. I moved to Fort Collins in 2011 and continued to work in educational technology as I worked to earn my administrative certification from Colorado State University. I'm now in my fifth year here at Shepardson, and more excited than ever to be Shepardson's principal, working with students and staff as they work to solve problems, explore their world, and learn with each other!

I was born in the wind and ice of the Chicago winter, but was raised in the heat of the desert in Tucson, Arizona. Being the son of a PE teacher (Mom) and an accountant (Dad), I was one of those kids who loved school as much as I loved sports. I started my college career in engineering at the University of Arizona (go CATS!), but early in my sophomore year realized that I LOVED my part-time job working with 3rd graders at a local elementary school. I changed majors from engineering to education, and soon schools, moving to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University, where I pursued my degree in Elementary Education and fell in love with 4-season climates. I returned to Tucson to student teach at my old elementary school with my 4th grade teacher, who taught me more in those four months than I would have imagined possible.

A year later I found myself working as a 6th grade math and social studies teacher at Esperero Canyon Middle School with another amazing teacher-mentor, and it wasn't too much longer before I was married and a father. In my free time I competed around the state in triathlons and in cycling events (both road and mountain), and took up rock climbing. To support my cycling habit, I began working at a local bike shop as well. Cycling and climbing, though I don't do them as much now as I once did, remain passions that my students quickly learn about. 

In 2011 my wife got a job at CSU and I landed a job with PSD in Educational Technology. With one daughter in college (go CATS!) and the other a sophomore in high school, we made the move to Fort Collins. It was one of the best moves we could imagine. My youngest recently graduated from CU Boulder and is following the family tradition - she's now a 3rd grade teacher at an elementary school in Denver. My oldest finished her degree at the U of A and moved "home" to Fort Collins, living not too far away from her parents and working for a local senior care facility. Any warm day will find us outside, hiking, biking, climbing, strolling through the neighborhood, or just relaxing on our patio enjoying the beauty and wonder that is the Colorado front range.  

Professionally my interests lie in developing collaborative, technology-rich learning opportunities for students and teachers. My passion, as I've noted before, is in mathematics, but just about any topic can perk my interest and get me to spend way too many hours building, exploring, and reflecting. I'm also very interested in collaborating with colleagues to reflect on and refine the teaching craft.

Most of my outside interests involve either technology or the great outdoors. I own one fewer bicycles than I think I need (currently a road, mountain, commuter and tandem bike) and ride them frequently on the roads and trails that surround Fort Collins. When time allows, I also enjoy climbing with my daughter, and weekends find me cycling, hiking, camping, or, if I'm really lucky, backpacking. When the weather cools off, I snowboard and snowshoe, and have no trouble passing the time playing board or video games with friends and family. 

My grandmother passed on a deep and abiding love of reading, and I'll read just about anything I can get my hands on. I particularly enjoy history (the more ancient the better!), science fiction, and fantasy, and have been known to read some of my favorite books over and over again. She also passed on a love of cooking and I enjoy experimenting with recipes from around the world. I traveled to Thailand a few years back, where I took a day long cooking class, so Thai cooking is a recurring obsession. I should clarify, however, that I cannot bake to save my life. Thankfully I married someone who can. 

PSD does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, veteran status, age or disability in access or admission to, or treatment or employment in, its programs or activities. A lack of English speaking skills will not be a barrier to admission or participation.