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Outgoing, incoming superintendents look forward to 2021

SALISBURY – Rowan-Salisbury Schools is about to enter a transition.

Superintendent Lynn Moody will retire after Thursday and her replacement, Tony Watlington, will take over leading the district of 18,000 students early this year. Moody has been the superintendent since 2013. Among other things, she oversaw the construction of Wallace Educational Forum, the pending closure of a number of schools and the district’s special renewal status granted by the state.

Watlington, chief of schools for Guilford County Schools, has spent his entire career in education with the same district. He started as a history teacher in 1994 and rose through the ranks within the district, becoming a favorite of the local Communities in Schools program, a principal and then rose through the ranks of district administration to become deputy to GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras.

Moody is looking forward to retirement, while Watlington is looking toward a major step up in his career.

Watlington said he is looking forward to getting involved in the community and talking to people about what they dream about the district becoming over the next few years.

“I’m also looking forward to good health and continuing to grow professionally as I’m a lifelong learner,” Watlington said.

Watlington said he will begin the new position with an aggressive school visit tour. He wants to visit every school in three weeks and make it to all of them by February and said he’s particularly interested in hearing rom people about struggles in 2020 with blended and virtual learning.

“It just helps me to fully understand that all parents want the very best for their children,” Watlington said.

Watlington and Moody both agree: They want to see a swift end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ll be one of the first people in line when I’m eligible for the vaccination,” Watlington said.

Moody said she is looking forward to vaccinations being available to everyone and children being able to go back to school safely without having to wear masks and social distancing.

“I’m looking forward to the day that children can back to school safely and without rules and regulations, social distancing and masks,” Moody said. “I’m looking forward to a time when people feel more confident in business and the economy. I’m looking forward to going to a a restaurant and getting m my hair cut. Several things that we’ve all kind of given up.”

Looking back on her time with RSS, Moody says, the only thing she is looking forward to leaving behind is COVID-19. She said the most defining part of her career was seeing people come together at the beginning of COVID-19 to make school happen then anticipate problems when schools reopened in August.

“But somehow they did it,” Moody said. “It was extremely impressive. I’m always impressed with the first day of school but this year was unbelievable to me, that our staff could make that all happen in such a short period of time.”

Moody said she will always treasure during her career with Rowan-Salisbury Schools and getting the best from people when there was a crisis.

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