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September 22, 2021

Back to School: A message from RSS Superintendent Tony Watlington

By Tony Watlington

I look forward to the 2021-2022 school year in Rowan-Salisbury Schools with excitement about extraordinary learning opportunities for all of our students every day.

In a few short weeks, our school buildings and classrooms will be abuzz again with the life of the district, our students, and staff.

We will kick off the new school year after a spring and summer of working with our strategic plan steering committee and learning from numerous focus groups on the four priorities that have emerged to help us move forward as a school district for the next several years. The four emerging renewal and strategic plan priorities are:

• Develop and pilot a new accountability model that focuses on three areas: academic skills, interpersonal skills and unique life goals.

• Increase student enrollment.

• Increase our percentage of schools that meet or exceed growth annually in the current state accountability model.

• Decrease our state-identified low performing schools in the current state accountability model.

Just as our work on the strategic plan continues to take focus, we continue to be driven by our directional system, which keeps engaged students at the center of our work. As the first and only renewal school district in the state of North Carolina, we engaged more than 200 teacher leaders, principals and district leaders last week on revising renewal plans as we all work together to achieve extraordinary educational results for students every day.

Some of the most candid feedback I have received and will take with me throughout the year was from our students.  Students told me our focus needs to be on continuing to build relationships, to provide more relevant and real-world learning opportunities, and to make learning fun.

That is exactly what we plan to do, continue to foster positive working relationships with all of our students, families, and staff while engaging learners with experiential learning opportunities that make learning fun and exciting. We also strive to facilitate learning based on collaboration and in alignment with our focus on helping students set and achieve their unique life goals. We will do this while helping our students develop interpersonal skills that will prepare them to successfully enroll in college, enlist in the military, or become employed in good paying jobs.

I commit that we will lead with integrity to fulfill the mission of educating all of our students in a safe, healthy, joyful, and caring environment. I am grateful to be a part of Rowan County, where we are focused on being original in our schools and communities through innovative practices, engaging lessons and real-world applications. I invite everyone to partner with us in these efforts and I wish everyone all the best as we start the 2021-2022 school year.

Let’s be extraordinary!

Tony Watlington is superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

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