Dallas ISD changes Thornton Elementary to Otto M. Fridia Elementary School

Otto M. Fridia in a Dallas ISD Board of Education yearbook listing. – Photo courtesy of Dallas ISD archives

 

By DIANE XAVIER

The Dallas Examiner

 

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees has made an effort to name and rename schools after local legendary African American leaders. During its March 24 meeting it voted to rename three schools, including Robert L. Thornton Elementary School. Board members voted in agreement to rename the school Otto M. Fridia Elementary School.

The new name is so new that most of the school’s signage and information on the website still honors its former namesake. Information on Otto Malory Fridia Jr. is limited and some of it is difficult to find. But what can be found are glowing reports of him.

Fridia was considered a leader, mentor and friend to many students, staff and fellow teachers at the Dallas Independent School District throughout his life. He spent the majority of his life educating students and creating future leaders.

Born in Waco May 20, 1924, education was a priority in his life. He graduated from Moore High School in Waco and then went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Prairie View University. He continued his education by earning a master’s degree from New York University in Guidance Counseling and Administration.

Fridia served and survived World War II, then returned to Dallas to teach. He began his teaching career at Booker T. Washington High School. During that time, he also served as a counselor at the school. He later became the principal at Roger Q. Mills Elementary School.

He went on to become the assistant principal at Lincoln High School from 1965 to 1970. He was appointed to serve as the district’s deputy assistant superintendent in June 1970. He also served as a line officer to the Inner City School System and designed programs to involve the parents.

He later served as deputy superintendent. Then he became the acting general superintendent from October 1987 through June 1988, the first African American acting as general superintendent for the Dallas Independent School District.

Throughout his career, Fridia was recognized with several awards, honors and tributes for the contributions he made to the educational sector. In 2006, he was inducted into the African American Education Archives and History. Otto M. Fridia Jr. Alternative High School was named in his honor many years ago but closed a few years ago.

Fridia was also an active member of the National Association of Black School Educators, National Association Secondary School Principals, Dallas School Administrators Association, American Association of School Administrators, St. Luke Community United Methodist Church and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Phi Delta Kappa.

He died Feb. 10, 2000. He was 75 years old.

 

Sources: Dallas Independent School District, Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting and

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