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Dr. Tony Watlington Sr. has been named the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Photo Courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia.
Dr. Tony Watlington Sr. has been named the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Photo Courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia.

Dr. Tony Watlington Sr. is the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia

A six-month-long national search and process is now over as the Board of Education selects the successor to Dr. William Hite.

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Dr. Tony Watlington has been named the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, marking the end of a six-month-long process and national search.

He was announced as one of three finalists for the role on March 11.

Dr. Watlington is currently the superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School District in North Carolina. With more than 27 years of educational experience, he will be the successor to Dr. William Hite, who announced he would be stepping down as Superintendent after a decade in the role prior to the start of the 2021-22 academic year. 

It was announced in Feb. 2022 that Dr. Hite would become the next president & CEO of KnowledgeWorks, effective July 1, 2022.

Throughout his career, Dr. Watlington has served in various capacities, including high school teacher, principal, Chief of Schools, and his current position as superintendent. His specialty areas are instructional leadership and closing student achievement gaps, organizational efficiency and fiscal management, developing school, community and university partnerships, and equity education. 

In a statement following the announcement, Joyce Wilkerson, Board of Education President said, ​​“Dr. Watlington is a deeply experienced, respected, innovative and visionary educator whose background and expertise make him the right person to become the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.”

“Dr. Watlington is a rare leader that possesses humility and an unrelenting drive to improve life outcomes for children,” added Shawn Joseph, co-director of the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendent Academy. 

Dr. Watlington is a native of North Carolina, and was the first member of his family to attend college. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history education from North Carolina AT&T State University, a master’s degree in American Political History from The Ohio State University, and both a master’s degree in School Administration and Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he was a North Carolina Principal Fellow. He also holds training certificates from Harvard and Yale Universities and is a member of the National Urban Superintendent’s Academy sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).  

The announcement of Dr. Watlington’s selection as the next Superintendent marks the end of a six-month process, which began in October 2021. The process included a total of 48 listening sessions across the city, partnerships with over 50 community partnerships, and a robust digital survey that invited Philadelphians to weigh in on the qualities and capabilities they desired in the next superintendent. 

“The Board is proud to have delivered on our promise,” said Leticia Egea-Hinton, Board of Education Vice President. “Dr. Watlington has a proven track record of lifting up the objectives found in our own Goals & Guardrails vision for our students and schools. This is an incredible moment for our students and families.” 

Dr. Watlington’s five-year contract will be formalized with a vote by the Board on Thursday, April 7 at 4 p.m. His first day as School District of Philadelphia’s Superintendent will be June 16, 2022.

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