The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Public Education is pleased to announce Dr. Denise Watts as the sole finalist for the role of Superintendent. Dr. Watts has a track record of improving the quality of education for all students and was unanimously identified as the sole finalist by the School Board after a national search that resulted in 49 completed applications and multiple interviews. The Board is confident that Dr. Watts is the right leader to build upon and accelerate the progress made under retiring Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett. The Board will meet formally to discuss the hiring of Dr. Watts at a Board meeting later in June. The meeting date will be announced and posted online at the District's website at www.sccpss.com.
Dr. Watts has been an exemplary and successful leader from the beginning of her career. As a principal in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, she led a high performing school to meaningful growth in its already high-achieving academic performance and was later named the 2008 National Association of Secondary School Principals North Carolina Principal of the Year for her efforts. She was then strategically staffed to lead turnaround efforts at one of the lowest performing schools in the state, which she ultimately led to becoming one of the most improved. After moving into district leadership positions, she worked with multiple schools and forged community partnerships to significantly improve academic performance and graduation rates while also reducing discipline, improving culture, and enhancing efforts to recruit, develop and retain teachers and leaders.
Dr. Watts was then recruited to the University of Virginia, Partnership for Leaders in Education where, as Chief of District Support, she worked with school districts across the nation to design and execute strategies for comprehensive school and system-wide improvements. This experience provided invaluable insight into data analysis, strategic planning, and execution of initiatives that truly impact learning and culture across a wide range of schools and districts.
The Houston Independent School District (194,000 students; 247 schools) recognized Dr. Watts' effectiveness by tapping her to serve as its Chief of Schools, a challenge she accepted even though the State of Texas had already begun proceedings to initiate a takeover of the school system. Within her first year she helped reduce the number of low-rated schools from 48 in 2021 to 11 in 2022 and implemented systems and conditions that fostered improvements across all schools in the district.
Dr. Watts has consistently used a data-driven approach to increase student achievement while also focusing on building effective relationships with students, staff, peers, and the community. Her passion for ensuring that all students are successful and can lead choice-filled lives, regardless of their circumstances, while also ensuring that teachers and staff have the support they need, aligns with the School Board's vision to ensure that all students are prepared to be successful and productive citizens and mission to ignite and foster lifelong learning at the highest levels for all. We look forward to Dr. Watts joining us this summer and are confident that the future is bright for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.
Information related to the selected candidate will be made available pursuant to the requirements of the Georgia Open Records Act should they be requested. In no sooner than 14 days the School Board shall convene to vote in a public meeting on the superintendent selection. The meeting date will be announced and posted on the District's website.
See Dr. Watt's bio here.