John K. Thornburg

Educational Programs Committee
John Thornburg serves as the 19th Headmaster of Malden Catholic High School. He brings to Malden Catholic an established background in education and a wealth of experience in leading private, independent schools. An educator for over 30 years, John began his journey as a biology teacher and cross-country coach at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy, an all-male boarding school. After 20 years in the classroom, he moved into administration and served St. John’s Northwestern as the Academic Dean and Associate Head of School. He furthered his administrative experience through leading the high school division of one of the highest-ranked co-ed Catholic schools in Ohio, The Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, from 2015-2019.

John’s educational philosophy is rooted in the strong belief that Catholic schools are the most powerful educational model that can reach the whole student through excellent academics while providing opportunities to grow in one’s faith. He is convinced that in this model, a student’s full potential is unleashed. His faith has always been a part of his leadership style and aligns with the rich heritage of the Xaverian Brothers, whose charism animates the vibrant college-preparatory program at Malden Catholic.

John has conducted research and implemented professional development programs in the area of relational teaching. He believes a powerful high school experience is dependent on students developing positive learning relationships with each other and their teachers. He has presented on this topic at conferences and published his findings as well. John’s research findings have impressed upon him the importance of the Xaverian call to “form enduring personal relationships within and among the school community.”

John earned his BS from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an MS from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Science Teaching, and an MA from Marian University-Fond du Lac in Educational Leadership. He is currently pursuing his doctorate at Xavier University in Cincinnati.


Established in 1957, Xaverian is one of thirteen schools nationwide sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers.