Posted on May 22, 2023
Categories: News from SDP

Today, Superintendent Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., announced the appointment of the District’s new Deputy Superintendent of Talent, Strategy, and Culture, Jeremy Grant-Skinner, and Chief of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson. The addition of Mr. Grant-Skinner and Dr. Francis-Thompson will further support the District’s efforts to achieve the Board’s Goals and Guardrails and become the fastest improving large, urban school district in the country.

These appointments build on Superintendent Watlington’s leadership announcement last fall, where he appointed two Deputy Superintendents, specifically the Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services and a Deputy Superintendent of Operations. Appointing these two new, senior leaders will allow the District to have the most impact on three focus areas (student attendance, teacher attendance and dropout rates), as well as to immediately drive the strategic plan, which will be rolled out in May.

“Both Mr. Jeremy Grant-Skinner and Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the District,” said Superintendent Watlington. “They are battle tested leaders, who have a demonstrated track record of creating collaborative and results-oriented work cultures.”

As the Deputy Superintendent of Talent, Strategy, and Culture, Mr. Grant-Skinner will oversee the Office of Talent, Office of Professional Learning, Office of Equity, Office of Information Technology, and Office of Strategic Planning. In this capacity, he will be charged with overhauling the recruiting strategy, reducing onboarding time for new hires, implementing a plan to train and develop staff across all job roles, develop an evaluation system for all central office departments, and assist the superintendent in transforming the district into a more collaborative, trusted, and results-oriented culture that recognizes and better supports school leadership teams as the unit of change. Mr. Grant-Skinner will also lead the strategic plan to ensure it is implemented and executed with fidelity. The Deputy Superintendent of Talent, Strategy, and Culture replaces the previous Deputy Superintendent of Operations role.

Prior to joining the District, Mr. Grant-Skinner served as the Chief Talent Officer for the Houston Independent School District and as the Chief Human Capital Officer for the Baltimore City Public Schools. He contributed to Baltimore achieving record-high teacher retention, record-low teacher vacancies, and new highs in the number of Black male and Latinx teachers. Beginning his career in the classroom as a first grade teacher, Mr. Grant-Skinner also worked with The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and Teach For America leading talent initiatives, including innovative compensation models and an equity-focused principal preparation program.

As the Chief of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Francis-Thompson will provide leadership on the overall instructional programming for the School District of Philadelphia. She will be responsible for ensuring that teachers, principals, and support across all schools have access to the core instructional materials and support needed to provide rigorous and culturally appropriate instruction for all students.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Francis-Thompson has served in a number of roles at the District including special education teacher, director of special education, executive director of instructional programming and services (SPED), executive director of curriculum and instruction, and deputy chief of curriculum and instruction. In these capacities, she spearheaded the instructional design and implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to continuity of high-quality instruction in a digital environment. As the Interim Chief of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Francis-Thompson is leading the district in a five-phase adoption of high quality core instructional resources.

“As the District strives to achieve the Board’s Goals and Guardrails, as well as Dr. Watlington’s goal of becoming the fastest improving large, urban school district, it is critical to have strong leaders with demonstrated experience, in driving academic and cultural change,” said Board President Reginald Streater, Esq. “On behalf of the Board, we look forward to working in partnership with Mr. Grant-Skinner and Dr. Francis-Thompson and welcome them to become a part of our village in service of our students.”

These personnel changes are budget neutral due to the elimination or repurposing of a number of vacant positions that Superintendent Watlington froze upon his arrival. The District continues to conduct a national search for the Deputy Superintendent of Academics role.