Walks In the Arbo: Ms. Chantal Thornberry


Gabrielle Wolin

Ms. Thornberry meeting with a student. Her office is located to the left of the Upper School Office.

Gabrielle Wolin, Perspectives Editor

Ms. Chantal Thornberry joined MBS this fall as Director of Student Culture and Wellbeing after working at St. Paul Academy & Summit School in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she served as Upper School Dean of Students for the past four years. Previously, she earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Emory University and an M.Ed. in Secondary English at DePaul University. In her position as Director of Student Culture and Wellbeing, Thornberry works as part of the Senior Leadership team focusing on listening, observing, and learning within the student body. In addition to her position as director, she teaches a senior elective on Shakespeare’s Tragedies and observes classes to better understand the student experience. 

What made MBS appeal to you? What ultimately made you choose to come here for this specific department?

The people here at MBS appealed to me and ultimately made me choose to come work here. As I was looking for my next step in my career I was really invested in finding a place that had student well-being at the forefront. Upon discovering MBS, I noticed that this school was entirely invested in the development of the whole student throughout their academic career—which I loved. I don’t think you can necessarily be successful in the long-term academically or in life if you don’t focus on your well-being in the world and within your community, so the fact that this role was created to focus solely on that was really inspiring to me.

It’s okay to fail at something, it really really is.

— Chantal Thornberry, Director of Student Culture and Wellbeing

What inspires your work? What is your motivation in the morning?

Well, quite honestly, the students here at MBS do. I am grateful every day to be a part of the MBS community. I love how when I come to this campus every day I can observe and connect with the student body and try and improve their general well-being. Students here, I have noticed— even after only being here a semester—are very open and honest with each other. People are overwhelmingly kind and welcoming here, so the idea that I can come to work and try and make this an even better place for all of you gets me out of bed in the morning.

What do you think is the most important lesson for students nowadays?

It’s okay to fail at something, it really really is. And I have been doing this job, not in this particular department, but I have been in education and administrator for decades now. From this, I have learned that if you can learn resilience and how to overcome an obstacle and know that it is okay not to be perfect at something ever, then you’re going to be more successful in your life. My primary goal here will be to help all students in the MBS community reach their potential and feel connected by collaborating with the DEIB department and by aligning all aspects of wellness education, counseling, and advising.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time outside of work?

Outside of work, I really like to spend time with my family and bake for them. I like to bake all sorts of sweets, from cakes, sweets, to cookies. It’s really enjoyable as I’ve gotten better at intricate little bakes like macarons and all of that, though it is quite funny and a bit ironic as I really don’t like sweet stuff very much. Therefore I’m mostly baking for my family and friends, while I prefer having salty and spicy foods for myself.