Return to Headlines

Dr. Watts Named Next Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, GA

Dr. Calvin J. Watts began serving as Kent School District’s (KSD) superintendent on June 15, 2015. After an extensive national search, Dr. Watts was selected by the KSD Board for his proven leadership record, strategic vision, passion for educating students, communication skills, human resource experience, strong work ethic, team- and consensus-building expertise, and many years of working with diverse populations.

On Thursday, July 15, 2021, the Gwinnett County Board of Education named Dr. Watts the sole finalist to replace outgoing 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 Dr. 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 Dr. 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.”

More information and details about the transition plan for Dr. Watts and the impact on Kent School District will become available in the coming weeks.

 

GCPS News Release- Announcement of Dr. Watts as Finalist

 

KSD All Staff and Family Email from Dr. Watts

Dear KSD Community,

As you may know, the Pacific Northwest is my first home. Both my parents moved from the Southeast to Seattle, and that is where they met, married, and three years later, I was welcomed into the world. I grew up in a suburb of Seattle and graduated from high school in Washington state.

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.” 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.

I am humbled and honored to share with you that on Thursday, July 15, 2021, I was named by the Gwinnett County Board of Education as the sole finalist to replace outgoing CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. 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 me as the school district’s next leader during the Thursday, July 29, Special Called Board Meeting.

It was here in KSD where I was able to carry the lessons that I learned throughout my 13-year career in GCPS and apply those very same lessons to many leadership opportunities, including how to lead with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in mind. During my six-year tenure in Kent, we pursued academic excellence and overcame organizational challenges together. As a result, our Class of 2020 on-time graduation rates continued a trend of improvement and 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 addition, we made equity-based decisions that centered around the direct needs of our students. Equally important, we conducted district business with integrity and transparency. We never wavered even amidst the most extraordinary year-and-a-half of our educational careers.

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. I am humbled and honored to return to Gwinnett County, 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. I am eager to roll up my sleeves, as I proudly accept this opportunity to serve as the next Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools. I am confident that our KSD Executive Leadership Team will work together with the KSD Board and rise to the occasion to ensure a smooth and efficient start of the 2021-22 school year. Information about the transition plan will be shared as it becomes available through our KSD communication platforms.

In partnership and service,

Dr. Calvin J. Watts

Superintendent