John L. Davis Jr. (left), Krish Mohip (center), and Tony B. Watlington Sr. (right) are the three finalists for Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Photos Courtesy of the Philadelphia School District.
Photos Courtesy of the Philadelphia School District.

Philly Board of Education announces three remaining finalists in Superintendent search

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The search for the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia is heading toward the final stretch. 

On Friday, March 11, the Board of Education announced the three remaining finalists in what has been a months-long search.

The finalists are: John L. Davis Jr., Chief of Schools for Baltimore City Public Schools; Krish Mohip, Deputy Education Officer for the Illinois State Board of Education; and Tony B. Watlington Sr., Superintendent for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

“From the start, the search and selection process has been informed by the School District’s Goals & Guardrails strategic plan, which prioritizes students and their achievements, school environments, and families as critical partners in their child’s education,” said Board of Education President Joyce Wilkerson in a statement. 

Each of the three candidates will take part in individual Philly visits from March 14 through March 16 in an effort to engage with Philadelphians and key stakeholders in the School District. 

The three finalists’ in-town visits will include a full day of events with city residents who have volunteered to take part in the process, including in-person and live-streamed meetings with students, teachers, principals, parents and guardians who applied for 32 slots to meet with the finalists and hear from them directly. 

The candidates will all have the opportunity to interact with the Superintendent Search Advisory Committee, City Council members, business and community leaders, and local advocacy groups. 

Each finalist’s day of meetings will culminate in an individual town hall from 6-7 p.m. at the School District’s North Broad Street headquarters. The town halls will be live-streamed on the School District’s Facebook and the School District’s website. Language interpretation services will also be available by request. 

Meet the three finalists:

John L. Davis Jr.

John L. Davis Jr. is currently the chief of schools for Baltimore City Public Schools.

For the last three decades, Davis Jr. has worked in large urban school districts, specifically rising through the ranks in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore City. 

His career achievements include improving district-wide communications, the implementation of the Flamboyan family engagement model, and the successful implementation of blended learning, school budgeting, and strategic support for low-performing schools. 

Davis Jr. began his career as a middle school math teacher at West Baltimore Middle School in 1992, and later served as the founding principal of New Era Academy High School. 

Krish Mohip

Krish Mohip is currently the deputy education officer for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Mohip has nearly 20 years of progressive experience in closing the achievement gap, developing and overseeing innovative academic programs, and leading initiatives for college and career readiness. 

In 2016, he was recruited by the State of Ohio to lead the first state-led transformation of an entire district. Under his leadership, the district’s high school graduation rate rose 11 percentage points in just two years. In addition, he implemented a comprehensive academic approach, rooted in an effective Instructional Framework alongside analytical data systems that measured both student progress and adult implementation. 

Mohip began his career working as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago Public Schools, and later served in a number of other positions, including assistant principal, principal, deputy chief of schools, and chief of schools. He has also served as a member of the CEO’s Executive Cabinet and Academic Team. 

Tony B. Watlington Sr. 

Tony B. Watlington Sr. is currently the superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, North Carolina’s first and only Renewal School District.

He has 27 years of educational experience with a specific expertise in instructional leadership and closing student achievement gaps, organizational efficiency and fiscal management, recruitment and development of strong executive leadership, developing school/community/university partnerships, and equity education. 

His professional achievements include developing the district’s strategic plan, “Renewal 2027,” which is focused on academic skills/early literacy, interpersonal skills, student passions and unique life goals, human capital, operational efficiency, and parent and community engagement. His plan led to the district’s third grade literacy ranking to go from 96 to 74 within two years, and an increase in the percentage of schools that meet or exceed state growth targets from 55% to 71%. 

Watlington Sr. has served in various positions throughout his educational career, including as a high school teacher, assistant principal, and principal. 

“We are thrilled to have candidates who have the passion and expertise necessary to carry this plan through,” said Wilkerson. “I know the public will be as excited about these inspiring individuals as Board members are.”

Mayor Jim Kenney added, “This decision matters greatly to all residents, and I am very pleased that the finalists’ qualifications as former educators and current education leaders reflect the priorities that Philadelphians shared with us. I encourage everyone to take time next week to learn more about the candidates.” 

Davis Jr.'s visit is set for March 14, Mohip's visit is expected to take place March 15, and Watlington Sr.'s visit is scheduled for March 16. 

The Board is expected to make the final selection in the Spring. He will officially take on the new role in July, prior to the start of the 2022-23 academic year. 


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