Thornton moves from classroom to student affairs at LTC-Reserve

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – After years spent as an instructor in the technical college setting, Annette Thornton Ph.D. recently moved into an administrative role at Louisiana Technical College in Reserve.

Since July 1, Thornton has served as the school’s director of student affairs, a role the New Orleans native relishes.

“I love helping students,” she said. “I love seeing the students accomplish their goals.”

In her new position, Thornton assists students both potential and current with admissions, registration and course planning. She also helps them find funding opportunities when possible.

While the switch has not been entirely new — Thornton said she often helped with different aspects of the job even before assuming her new role — the wider focus of the administrative position has taken a little getting used to.

“This job really can be overwhelming with just the paperwork alone,” she said.

As a drafting instructor, Thornton was able to focus primarily on just the students in her classes. Now she must keep track of the entire student population.

Her colleagues, however, have eased the transition.

“Everybody has been so supportive,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m in the boat by myself.”

Thornton started her career in 1997, when she was asked to be an instructor at Nunez Community College. From there she moved to LTC’s West Jefferson campus before transferring to Reserve in 2003. For now, though, it seems her days of transience are behind her.

“I guess I just love it here,” she said. “It’s a small-town atmosphere, and yet it’s not such a small town.”

She also has no plans of leaving the technical college setting.

“I just think we’re different from other systems in that we put people to work,” she said. “This system is really about putting your money where your mouth is.”

She said she feels this quality is especially important in today’s economy.

“We’re seeing all kinds of different trends,” she said.

She said students at LTC run the gamut from high school students to people holding master’s degrees.

“They’re coming here to get skills,” she said. “We’re the fastest route to the workforce.”

For many area high school students, the school is also the fastest way to get a head start on their college careers. As director of student affairs, a major part of Thornton’s job is to work with these dual enrollment students. Now that the school has also brought students from Jefferson Parish — in addition to the River Parishes students — under its umbrella, this is no small task. Dual enrollment student account for nearly half of the student population at LTC’s Reserve campus.

No matter the age of the student, however, Thornton’s goal remains constant.

Said Thornton, “I guess I just believe the students of this state need quality education.”