Thornton Academy News

James A. Jortberg, 1971-1986

From the moment he first arrived on campus, James Jortberg worked to improve and update Thornton Academy’s program and facilities.  Under his leadership TA would strive to meet the challenges of the quickly-increasing academic expectations that were faced by schools increasingly in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Jortberg initiated and oversaw the construction of doubled capacity of Scamman Science Building, adding a second floor of generously sized science classrooms, all of which offered lab space as well as traditional instructional space.  Digital technology was in its infancy, and Thornton Academy boasted one of the first computers in a Maine high school, an enormous machine cared for and supervised by math teacher and department chair Dom DiBiase.

It was during Jortberg’s tenure that Trojan fans attended their last athletic contests on the field across the street.  In the spring of 1980, the TA track team was the first team to compete in the new Paul S. Hill Stadium; the football team played their first game in the stadium the following fall.  

Jortberg was appreciated for many attributes, not the least of which was his first-hand understanding of teenagers (he was a father of five girls, all TA alumnae) and his genuine commitment to the Thornton Academy community.  Upon his retirement, a tribute in the TA yearbook the Tripod expressed “regret at the loss of such an understanding humanistic leader.”