Calvin Watts. FILE PHOTO

Calvin Watts. FILE PHOTO

Calvin Watts releases farewell letter to Kent School District

After six years as superintendent

Calvin Watts released the following letter to Kent School District students, families, staff and community on his final day as superintendent:

With a heart full of gratitude, I have taken my last approved leave in Kent School District (KSD). I will miss each one of you as I return to my professional roots in Georgia. My gratitude begins with my family, who supported our move to where I grew up personally over six years ago and with our racially, culturally, and geographically diverse KSD community, the fifth largest district in our state, with whom I have had the privilege of supporting.

While I have served as superintendent, our community has passed over $461 million in bonds and levies. In addition, our families and community have volunteered countless hours to support our children. All of this support, combined with the passionate commitment of our teachers, classified staff, and our administrators, has resulted in our students doing better academically.

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. We have also made intentional shifts through our multi-tiered system of supports focusing on the social emotional needs of our students more completely. These are just a few of the accomplishments we have made together in KSD over the last six years.

One additional specific item I want to mention is the ever-increasing systems of communication that we have created over the past six years. Making space for people from across the 72 square miles of our district to engage in conversations around teaching and learning, elevating student voice, and increasing opportunities for meaningful engagement through new and varied formats. Communication is vital for any healthy learning community, and this has been a top priority in my tenure.

As I say goodbye, there is still much work to be done here in Kent School District. We are building two new schools for inspiration and learning, opening to our students on Aug. 26, and improvements across other campuses of our district continue to be made.

In addition, our dual-language program expands this school year to serve high school students at Kent-Meridian High School. And we are launching the inaugural office of Equity and Strategic Engagement to serve all students and staff; this is a long-term investment and the first of its magnitude to support our core value of equity and the beautiful diversity of our district.

I thank our staff, the board, and I thank all of you for all of these achievements, as they belong to us all. I am honored and privileged to be a small part of all that has and will occur here in KSD.

All of the experiences I have had personally and professionally have led me to the place I now occupy in KSD and the place I will occupy in Gwinnett County Public Schools beginning Aug. 2. So, I leave knowing that it is time to return to my professional home, and it is an opportunity for new leadership to lead KSD into a bright future. Effective Aug. 2, the KSD School Board has appointed Israel Vela, chief school operations and academic support officer, as the interim superintendent of Kent School District for 30 days.

So, I end the way I started with a heart full of gratitude for the experience of serving as your superintendent for the last six-plus years. I leave knowing that the work is unfinished but that the seeds of equity, community, and excellence have been planted, and our students, families, staff, and community are ready to move our district forward together.

• Calvin Watts worked six years as superintendent of the Kent School District prior to taking a job this month as superintendent of the Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia.

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