Kent School District Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts has been named the sole finalist to become the new Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) by the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
Watts, who began serving as Kent School District’s (KSD) superintendent in 2015, has provided KSD with a vision for the future through his strategic vision, passion for educating students, communication skills, human resource experience, strong work ethic, team- and consensus-building expertise, and provided them with a pathway to successfully educating diverse populations.
Last Thursday, Watts was selected to replace outgoing GCPS CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. Located in Suwanee, Georgia, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) is the 13th largest school district in the United States. GCPS serves 178,000 students within 141 schools and just recently adopted a $2.5 billion budget. Dr. Watts has previously served in Seattle Public Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, Carrollton City Schools (GA), and the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
“The opportunity for my family and I to return to my home state of Washington six years ago and become rooted in the Kent community was a tremendous blessing and opportunity for which I will be forever grateful,” said Watts. “I am humbled and honored to return to Gwinnett County (GA), where I grew up professionally. I am proud of what we, Team KSD, have accomplished together in the last six years, and I am confident that the good and meaningful work will continue for many years to come.”
In compliance with Georgia law, the GCPS School Board must wait for a minimum of 14 days between announcing the finalist(s) for the position of superintendent and making the appointment official. In accordance, the GCPS Board is expected to appoint Watts as the school district’s next leader during the Thursday, July 29, Special Called Board Meeting.
“Dr. Watts’ leadership and commitment to our district are evidenced by our four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate being at an all-time high, the advances of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and being selected for this position also speaks volumes about his leadership. We, in the Kent School District, have been so very fortunate to have a leader with a continual focus on student success, while consistently demonstrating dignity and integrity even when faced with multiple challenges and adversity,” said Kent School Board President Denise Daniels. “Dr. Watts will be missed. We wish him and his family well. As a board, we are dedicated to ensuring a smooth and efficient start of the 2021-22 school year and a superintendent search that engages our entire community.”
During his tenure as Superintendent in Kent, KSD graduation rates saw historic gains, including an 87.8% on-time graduation rate for All Students, 81.4% for our Hispanic/Latino students, 87.6% for our White students, 90.8% for our Black/African American students, and 91.8% for our Asian students.
In a memo to staff, Watts said that he was appreciative of the opportunity to lead the Kent School District, but ultimately, he could not pass up the opportunity to him to return the district that really influenced who he is as an administrator.
“Since arriving in Kent School District (KSD) more than six years ago, I have been committed each day to live out my leadership philosophy to reach and teach all students as if they had my last name. As I reflect upon my leadership journey, I’ve always thought of the Pacific Northwest as the place where I grew up “personally,” expressed Watts in the Memo. “However, I relocated to the Southeast in the early stages of my professional career in education, and since then, I have always referred to Gwinnett County Public Schools as the place where I grew up “professionally.”
“I considered my tenure in GCPS as one of the highlights of my career in PreK-12 education. When I began my career in Gwinnett, I learned from many incredible leaders and leadership experiences. In GCPS, I served as an Assistant Principal, as a Principal, as a Director of Human Resources, and also as an Assistant Superintendent in support of school and principal leadership until I left to become Superintendent of Kent School District,” he continued.
“Because of my leadership philosophy, my wife and I will now have 180,000 children and one recent high school graduate who still lives with us—for the time being. And we remain humbled and honored to engage and serve the very same Gwinnett County community that enabled our son to thrive as an elementary school student. The opportunity for my family and I to return to my home state of Washington six years ago and become rooted in the Kent community was a tremendous blessing and opportunity for which I will be forever grateful,” concluded Watts.