In 1982, Dr. Thornton received the First Annual Ann Gold Distinguished Professor Award given by PBA. Prior to employment at PBA, she taught at the elementary school level for five years. She served as the Educational Director of Broward County Project Head Start for three years. Her next position was Program Consultant for the Florida State Department of Education in Title One/Migrant Education in the Ft. Lauderdale regional office.
She has been employed as an adjunct professor at both Broward Community College and Florida Atlantic University. Since her employment at PBA in 1977, Dr. Thornton has served as the liaison for PBA with the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). She has been responsible for initial approval of 15 Teacher Education Programs by the FDOE. In addition, she is the certification officer and is responsible for the annual reports and on-site visits that are conducted at PBA. She has chaired several State Approval teams for FDOE in reviewing written folios and conducting on-site visits at other institutions.
Dr. Thornton also has served on Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Reaffirmation teams, visiting college campuses outside of the state and reviewing their self-studies for reaccreditation. Dr. Thornton has served on several FDOE teams in writing state examinations to be taken by persons applying for teaching certificates in the state of Florida. She served as state president of the Florida Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, whose membership is composed of all 29 institutions in Florida which have Teacher Education Programs approved by FDOE (both public and private). She serves on the Program Approval Board for the Florida Department of Education, which recommends approval, conditional or non-approval status for all teacher education programs in Florida. She also serves on the Florida Department of Education Committee, which reviews Educator Preparation Institute applications.
Dr. Thornton also is very active at the First Baptist of Church of West Palm Beach. She and her husband, Luke, teach Bible Study classes at their church.