PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With his three sons by his side, Dr. Tony Watlington, Sr. was sworn in on Thursday morning as the new superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.
"It's a great day to be an educator, a great day as the superintendent of Philadelphia," said Watlington.
Thursday is the first day of Watlington's initial five-year term to lead the district.
"Public education touches every community across Philadelphia and every industry, and today is an incredible day for our students and families," said school board President Joyce Wilkerson.
Watlington was most recently superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina. He was selected after a national search.
"I just want to say to you personally, your job may be as important or more important than mine because you hold the future of our kids in your hands," said Mayor Jim Kenney. "I honestly believe that the only way out of poverty, out of despair, out of crisis, is having a good education."
More than 80 listening sessions across the city will be planned between now and September, where Watlington will hear from myriad organizations and people including students, staff, union leaders and parents.
The idea is to learn what the district does well and where it needs improvement.
"As a superintendent and someone who is new to Philadelphia, my priority then is to listen and to learn," Watlington said. "Everyone's voice is valuable. It takes all of us."
Five areas of his focus include student and staff well-being, building trust with stakeholders across the district, teaching and learning, assessing district leadership capacity and alignment, and assessing operations, facilities, and finances of the school district.
Their specific findings and recommendations will be detailed in a report that will guide work going forward, including the formation of a five-year plan, which will be released later in the school year.
To learn more about priorities for the first 100 days, to register for a session, complete a survey, or track the progress of the sessions, click here.