Morehouse College alumnus Otha Thornton was installed this week as President of the National Parent Teacher Association, becoming the first African-American to lead the educational advocacy group. Thornton, a decorated US Army veteran, pledged advocacy for children and families as the core of his tenure.
“This is an exciting opportunity, and I am proud to have been elected to lead the charge for parents and teachers across the nation, and to ensure that our children have the tools and support they need to succeed,” Thornton said. “As president, I am committed to expanding PTA’s membership, leadership development and advocacy efforts to strengthen the association and fully empower families, teachers and communities to advocate for all children.”
Thornton is a native of Elberton, Ga., After a 21-year career in the military where he received the Bronze Star for his combat service in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, he retired to Smyrna with his wife in 2010. He currently lives in Savannah. Thornton has two adult children, a daughter who attended Spelman College and a son who attended Morehouse.
Thornton’s resume shows that he is dedicated to uplifting young people. During his time with Georgia PTA, he served on the board of directors as legislative chair and as an advisory group member for Georgia’s Partnership for Excellence in Education. In addition to his work with the PTA, he has served as a youth program volunteer at his church and is a Go To High School/Go To College education mentor for his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.
Thornton explains that his commitment to the education of children is rooted in his own childhood.
“When I was a 13-year-old child, I’m the oldest of seven, my dad left home,” he said. “My mom really stressed the importance of education. Education was a thing that really helped me move through life: faith, family and education. So I want to make sure that we provide those opportunities to all kids. And that’s what PTA is all about: ‘Every child, one voice.’ I’ve always been active in my kids’ lives and their friends where I could. It sort of culminated into this new challenge. So now I have 79 million kids that I have to speak up for.”