Appointment of New Philadelphia School District Superintendent

PHOTO ABOVE: New SDP Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. (Photo/

The board is proud to announce the appointment of Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. as the next superintendent of the Philadelphia School District. Watlington’s first day as superintendent of Philadelphia will be June 16, 2022.

Since January 2021, Dr. Watlington has served as Superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, North Carolina’s only renewal school district, serving more than 18,000 students and families in grades PK-12. The Rowan-Salisbury School District operates 33 schools and has an annual operating budget of $191,545,200. The district’s student population is 52.13% white, 21.49% Hispanic, 18.91% black, and 7.47% from other racial groups, with 67% of students eligible for free lunch or at a reduced price. He began his tenure with an extensive listening and learning tour that was followed by a comprehensive strategic planning process. The Listening and Learning Tour engaged all segments of the district’s diverse community through 35 focus groups and a 45-member steering committee comprised of students, staff, parents and community leaders.

The Rowan-Salisbury School District has a history of innovation, including being the first district in the state to implement a large-scale K-12 individual device program, providing Apple devices to all children for home and school use. . As NBC Nightly News highlighted in January 2022, the Rowan-Salisbury School District has served as a national model for educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Watlington served as Chief of Schools for Guilford County Schools, the third-largest school district in North Carolina and 47th among 14,000 school districts in the United States. Guilford County Schools operates 125 schools and has an annual operating budget of $767,272,699. The district’s student population was 40.65% Black, 32.49% White, 15.7% Hispanic, 6.42% Asian, 4.20% Multiracial, 0.39% Native American, 0.15% Pacific Islander, and students spoke nearly 100 different languages/dialects, and 65.1% of students eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Watlington is a collaborative, results-driven leader focused on improving systems that lead to an extraordinary education for every student, every day. A first-generation college graduate and equity champion, he is committed to building collaborative school and community teams accountable for creating life-changing opportunities for all children while dramatically closing achievement and opportunity gaps. .

A native of Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the youngest of seven children, Dr. Watlington attended school in Harnett County, North Carolina, and spent summers and vacations in Willingboro, New Jersey.

He earned his undergraduate degree in history education from NC A&T State University, a master of arts in American political history from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree in school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from the UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was an NC Senior Fellow.

He also holds training certificates from Harvard and Yale universities and is a member of the Howard University National Urban Superintendent’s Academy sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

Dr. Watlington began his career as a history teacher in Guilford County, North Carolina in 1994 and was named District Teacher of the Year in 1998. Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity , Dr. Watlington was honored as a trustee of the North Carolina PTA. of the Year in 2014. He received the Communities in Schools (CIS) Champions Cup and the Movers and Shakers Business Leaders Award. He also sits on numerous boards, including the board of the North Carolina Public School Forum.

It is critical to the stability, growth, and morale of the entire school district that Dr. Watlington is set up for success. The Council is deeply committed to making this happen.

The first step in Dr. Watlington’s integration will be to work alongside Dr. Hite and school district stakeholders to facilitate knowledge transfer and ongoing relationships. Dr. Hite’s guidance and partnership with Dr. Watlington will be key to a successful transition, and Dr. Hite will be actively involved until his departure in June at the end of the school year.

This announcement concludes the six-month Board-led research process that included: a public engagement phase with 48 listening sessions in partnership with more than 50 community partners and a robust digital survey, inviting all Philadelphians to weigh in on the qualities and abilities they desired for the next superintendent. In early December 2021, the Council released the results of this phase – a detailed 27-page report highlighting feedback containing feedback from nearly 6,000 Philadelphians. This report will be provided to Watlington as part of his onboarding to ensure he has a record of what Philadelphians said during the October-November public engagement phase, and so he can refer to it frequently. as part of its plans to address their needs and concerns.

A 13-member Superintendent Search Advisory Committee to center and represent the voices of diverse communities by participating in candidate interviews and providing guidance to ensure the board remains aligned with priorities and goals emerging from the process community engagement that initiated the research.

A series of in-person and live panel discussions, as well as town hall meetings, with the final three candidates.

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