Dr. Tony B. Watlington, Sr. reflects on his first year as superintendent, and looks forward to year two.
About Dr. Watlington
Prior to coming to RSS, Dr. Tony Watlington served as Chief of Schools (and deputy superintendent in the superintendent’s absence) in Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina and the 47th largest among 14,000 school districts in the United States. He was responsible for improving systems that lead to excellence and equity for all students. A first-generation college graduate and a champion for equity, Dr. Watlington is committed to building collaborative school and community teams that are accountable for creating life changing opportunities for all children, while significantly reducing achievement and opportunity gaps.
Prior to his appointment as Chief of Schools, Dr. Watlington served as Central Region Superintendent (with 33 schools and 19,000 students), Chief Strategic Planning Officer, Executive Director of the Central Region and Executive Director for School Support, where had oversight of management issues for 120 schools. Prior to his work in the GCS Central Office, Dr. Watlington served as principal of three GCS schools: The Middle College at GTCC-Jamestown, James B. Dudley High School and Fairview Elementary School. Under his leadership, both Dudley High and The Middle College at GTCC-Jamestown won Action Greensboro’s Celebration of Excellence Awards in 2003 and 2005, which recognize the most improved schools in the district. He also reduced the out of school suspension rate by 30 percent at Dudley High School and by 90 percent at Fairview Elementary School.
A native of Fort Dix, New Jersey and the youngest of seven children, Dr. Watlington grew up in rural Harnett County, North Carolina and was the first member of his family to attend college. He received his undergraduate degree in History Education from N.C. A&T State University, a master’s degree in American political history from The Ohio State University, a Master’s of School Administration and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership degree from UNC-Chapel Hill (where he was a NC 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).
Dr. Watlington joined Guilford County Schools as a history teacher in 1994 and was named the district’s Teacher-of-the-Year in 1998. A life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Dr. Watlington was honored as the North Carolina PTA Administrator of the Year in 2014 and he received the Communities-in-Schools (CIS) Champion’s Cup and Business Leaders Movers and Shakers Award. He also serves on numerous boards, including the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Public School Forum. Outside of work, his interests include spending time with his family, volunteering in his community, CrossFit training and running 5K races, traveling to historic sites, learning to play his guitar, good food and conversation, and he enjoys an occasional basketball game with his 3 sons, Tony Jr., Aaron, and Caleb.