Dr. Tony B. Watlington Sr. was appointed as superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, North Carolina’s only Renewal School District, in January 2021. He previously served as Chief of Schools and deputy superintendent 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 is a collaborative and results-oriented leader who is focused on improving systems that lead to extraordinary education for every student everyday. 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.
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 began his career as a history teacher in Guilford County, NC in 1994 and was named district 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 Rowan County Health Board and 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.