TEACHER FEATURE

Matt Thornton – American Fork Junior High

Sep 27, 2016, 9:52 AM | Updated: Aug 4, 2022, 11:09 am
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Mr. Thornton is the Choir Teacher at AF Jr High for over a decade. During this time he has inspired, motivated thousands of students to learn to appreciate the power of music. He’s taken the time to recognize the musical gifts in all the students that have come to his classes. He’s been able to inspire these young people to use their talents not just to enjoy or make others happy but also to use their voices to help those in need.

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001 the students under the direction of Mrs. Taylor organized a Benefit Concert to raise money for the Red Cross. Since then Mrs. Taylor moved away and Mr. Thornton has continued this annual tradition. They have raised over $45,000 to help multiple organizations and families. Each year the students have voted on who they want to do the concert for. This year students nominated 10-12 families and our family was selected.

My husband Ben had a kidney transplant in 2001 and in December 2012 this transplanted kidney also failed. Since then my husband has been receiving dialysis treatments three times a week. These treatments last four hours each time and they’re hard on his body and he’s been struggling a lot. Due to his poor health he lost his job last year and now he’s on disability. I’m not able to work outside of the home because I take care of my husband, my son Jacob who is an amazing 21 yr. old boy who has Down syndrome and I also take care of my 86 yr. old mother. In the last year and a half my mom had to be hospitalized three times. Jacob once and Ben several times. My husband is getting ready to have a transplant since my brother was found to be compatible. However, Ben went into cardiac arrest in April and two days ago they found cancer in his two original kidneys. Now he’s having double nephrectomy surgery to remove the cancer tomorrow May 9th. The money raised is going to help us pay medical bills.

Mr. Thornton asked us for pictures to show during one of the songs during the concert. He took the time to create a nice slide show. He was incredibly kind, patient and willing to help us feel comfortable. He kept thanking us for letting his students do the show for us. He emphasized his desires of helping the students see how they could help the needy with their musical abilities and how they could bless the lives of others. He expressed how one small voice could make a difference in the life of another human being. We understand how difficult it is to coordinate, plan and train more than 400 youth to do a concert like the one they did for us. For these reasons we feel he deserves to be recognized as a great teacher and motivator. We’re so thankful that educators like Mr. Thornton exist because they have helped and continue to help our youth to see how big of an impact one small voice can make in the life of a family.

–Thelma Sorensen

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Matt Thornton – American Fork Junior High