Learning Communities
Project L.I.F.T. Superintendent

​Dr. Denise Watts

Denise Watts brings a history of educational leadership to her role as project zone superintendent of Project Leadership and Investment For Transformation (L.I. F.T.), a philanthropic initiative composed of leaders from Charlotte’s largest community and family foundations intended to accelerate student achievement in nine West Charlotte schools .

Watts previously served as the project’s executive director and has also been a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal. 

Watts began her teaching career in 1997 in Forsyth County at Atkins Middle School, where she also coached basketball and track. In 1999, she joined CMS as a teacher at Alexander Graham Middle, where she taught sixth-grade language arts. She spent a year as a principal intern at McClintock Middle before becoming an assistant principal at Mint Hill Middle in 2003.

In 2005, Watts was named principal at Mint Hill Middle School, which became a nationally designated School to Watch in her first year there. She was named the North Carolina Principal of the Year in 2008.

In 2009, Watts was was tapped for the CMS Strategic Staffing Initiative, which puts teams of top educators into struggling schools. She moved to Bishop Spaugh Community Academy, then the lowest-performing middle school in the state. After one year of her leadership, the school was one of the state's most improved.

Most recently, Watts was the Central Secondary Zone superintendent in CMS, where she provided leadership and oversight for 20 Title I secondary schools.

Watts, a native of Elkin, is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University, where she majored in elementary education. She holds a master’s degree in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University. She is married and has two sons.