Tony Watlington meets the public in a town hall at Philadelphia School District headquarters in March. Watlington is the new Philadelphia superintendent. (Photo: TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

On June 16th, Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. was sworn in as the newest superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Dr. Watlington expressed his commitment to learning about the city of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia through listening and learning. The District also released Dr. Watlington’s plan for his first 100 days, which outlines his plan to engage a wide range of stakeholders within more than 80 listening and learning sessions to help inform how the District moves forward collectively. 

“As I embrace the incredible honor of becoming superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, I will engage in strategic, thoughtful, and equity-focused conversations and actions to identify what is currently being done well and what needs improvement,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. “Philadelphia is a vibrant city with extraordinary talent and collective resources. I look forward to engaging with a wide range of Philadelphians to learn and hear about what is needed to help all of our diverse learners flourish.”

More than 80 listening & learning sessions and other strategic assessment opportunities will be planned through September 2022. These efforts will focus on five priority areas, each with a specific goal and action steps. According to the PDF version of the First 100 Days, the description of the five priority areas includes:

1) Assess student and staff well-being, with the goal of approaching issues of safety and well-being of students and staff. The document states that those issues must be approached as a collaborative effort, convening key stakeholders from the Mayor’s office, City Council, the business community, neighborhoods, and local schools to create a safety net for students and staff to learn and grow. An invitation and access to increased opportunities for the students to engage in healthy, meaningful activities that will help foster positive mindsets and that they can see the wealth of opportunities Philadelphia offers them to become productive citizens. 2) Engage the District’s stakeholders; including, but not limited to students, families, staff, city and state leaders, unions, universities, activists, grassroots organizations, and business leaders.  3) Assess teaching and learning toward the goal of ensuring that teachers and schools have what they need to prioritize high-quality teaching and learning.  4) Assess District leadership capacity and alignment with the goal of nurturing a highly effective team that embodies a high-performing, collaborative, results-oriented and professional culture; and 5) Assess District operations, facilities, and finances, since it is considered as critical that operations and finance align with Board policy and represent excellence and transparency. Each division will be appraised to determine how they maximize support and services to schools using a continuous improvement model. Additionally, the depth of facilities issues will be assessed.

Dr. Watlington’s First 100 days of listening and learning will result in a report with findings and recommendations that will help guide the work of the District going forward. More information on the First 100 Days is available at  https://www.philasd.org/100days/

On the website, the public can access a survey to share feedback, view the calendar of listening & learning sessions, register for key sessions, track Dr. Watlington’s 100-day progress, and download the PDF version of the First 100 Days in numerous languages. 

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