Georgia News

Georgia 2018: State School Superintendent Candidates

Otha Thornton, Jr. and incumbent Richard Woods are vying for the position as State Superintendent of Schools.

The superintendent leads the Georgia Department of Education which oversees the state’s K-12 public education. The position involves instituting policies and managing operations of the state BOE.

Read a short bio of each candidate below.

Otha Thornton, Jr. - D

Otha Thornton currently works as the principal consultant for the Thornton Consulting Group and a military contractor with General Dynamics Information Technology at Fort Stewart. He is also the Education Chair for the Bryan County Democratic Party.

Thornton served for over two decades in the United States Army, retiring from active duty with the rank of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. He has served as Presidential Communications Officer and J1 Director with the White House Communications Agency. Thornton was also Chief of Personnel Operations.

He earned the Bronze Star Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010.

Thornton’s most recent endeavors include leading national efforts that resulted in the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and in Georgia, the defeat of the Opportunity School District ballot initiative.

He aims to lead the school system with a focus on challenges at the local level.

Thornton has degrees from Morehouse College and Michigan Technological University.

Visit Thornton's website & Facebook page.

Richard Woods - R

Richard Woods is the incumbent Georgia School Superintendent. He replaced John Barge in 2015.
Woods has over 24 years of pre-k through 12th-grade experience in public education. He was a high school teacher for 14 years, serving as department chair and teacher mentor.

For eight years, Woods served in various administrative roles such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, pre-k director, and alternative school director. Woods aims to continue keeping “classroom-centered and child-focused policies” at the center of his work. He ensures all of Georgia, including rural areas, that it has a voice in Atlanta.

Woods also brings a business background to the superintendent's position, having been a lead purchasing agent for a national/multi-national laser company and a former small business owner.
He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Kennesaw State University and a Master’s Degree from Valdosta State University.

Woods and his wife Lisha, a retired 30-year educator, are long-time residents of Tifton and have been married for over 26 years.

Visit Woods' website & Facebook page.

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