- About Dr. Watlington
- Organizational Chart
- Community Schools
- Community Involvement
- Rowan Partners for Education - RPE
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.
Inspiring, Innovative and Engaging – this describes the Community Schools concept that is being implemented across our community.
By now you have most likely participated in or heard about our 6 Community School areas and the events they have sponsored; such as back to school rallies, tail gates, family engagement events, movie nights to name a few examples. There have also been high school students dressed out in their school colors, welcoming elementary students to school.
Within RSS we have 6 community areas: North, South, East, West, Salisbury, and Southeast. We are personalizing the learning experience for children and families through our Community Schools by following your child from Kindergarten through high school. We may all fall under the larger umbrella of Rowan-Salisbury, but we have smaller Community Schools focusing on providing a family-centered environment for giving children the best education possible.
This spring each of the six Community Schools will be hosting a Exhibition to our communities. These events will showcase the inspiring work by our students.
Staying connected with the Rowan County community is vital to growth of Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Dr. Watlington continually provides opportunities to connect our schools with our community in a variety of innovative and inspiring ways, such as:
- Developing Community Schools Exhibitions and Events among the 6 area school communities in our district
- Serving on a number of community boards such as Rowan County Health Board and Rotary
- Presenting at local community organizations
A Brief History – Full Circle
Years ago, a group of dedicated business professionals and community leaders formed the Rowan-Salisbury Education Foundation to provide support and funding for programs that went above and beyond the normal curriculum in the Rowan Salisbury Schools. The name was later changed to Rowan Partners for Education (RPE) to better represent the mission of the organization.
A few years ago, another group of dedicated business and community leaders came together and formed the Rowan-Salisbury Schools IMPACT Fund. This group of hard- working individuals achieved many accomplishments that benefited the students and staff of our district to which we are very grateful.
Moving forward, the name is again Rowan-Partners for Education and dedicated to:
- Provide funding for innovative teaching methods
- Ignite stronger and more positive results
- Recognize the achievements of our teachers & students
- Encourage students to reach higher academic success
- Provide support to push through innovative projects
RPE continues to build on what the original founders saw as such an incredible resource in our community. While RPE will work closely with RSS to help achieve common goals, the mission is to add to and not replace any existing programs.
Jon and Susan Steele co-chair RPE.
Rowan-Salisbury staff and students connect and communicate through a program called ‘Rounding’ based on the practice of grand rounds common in hospitals. Administrative leaders are divided into teams that visit schools to ask about innovative and engaging work, as well as how administrators can offer support.
Rounding offers department staff a first-hand look into classrooms across our community. During these visits, the teams focus on different parts of the school’s campus to gain a wide range of opinions by speaking with school-level staff and students.
Following each round of visits, the teams gather back at the Wallace Educational Forum to share the information from their interviews. Principals are invited to hear the feedback and to see the ‘sticky notes’ on the wall that are displayed in categories like Engaging Instruction, Short-Term Improvement, and Long-Range Improvements.
The data is shared with departments to determine what immediate changes can take place for improvements and how to better implement the strategies of the strategic plan.
This willingness to give everyone a voice and to work together makes it an exciting time to be a part of Rowan-Salisbury Schools.