Retirees: Susan Donnett


Courtesy of Susan Donnett

In her over 20 years of teaching at WHHS, Susan Donnett has taught all grades in several different subjects, advised two clubs and won a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching and leadership.

In her over 20 years of teaching at WHHS, Susan Donnett has taught all grades in several different subjects, advised two clubs and won a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching and leadership. She grew up in a family of teachers and had experience with teaching ever since she was little.

Donnett’s mother grew up very poor and attended a free college, to become a teacher for special ed students. Donnett would help her out which gave her experience with teaching. “I got exposed to all different kinds of people from very early on. Not just kids that look like me.” she said.

After graduating as a graduate student she went on to teach undergraduate students. Then she worked in business for ten years.

Donnett started working as a volunteer for CPS magnet schools and won an award for her volunteer work. After her kids grew up she decided to become a substitute Latin and social studies teacher and eventually became a full-time teacher.

Donnett’s teaching philosophy was to let the students explore. She “wanted to give them to put the pieces together and give them the outline.”

Donnett has taught every grade but her favorite is teaching seventh graders. “They’re sweet, they’re goofy and there’s just all that potential that I enjoy,” she said.

Donnett has taught both history and Latin. Donnett said that she likes history because it is less structured and you could look at things from many different perspectives, while Latin is a very structured language. However she also said, “That’s not to say that you don’t have flexibility with Latin too, if you can be creative.”

In her Latin classes, Donnett’s students would perform plays, sing songs and dance all to minimize “repetition, just for the sake of repetition.” Donnett took these lessons over to her social studies class “because it was more fun, it was fun for me too.”

Some of her favorite memories include when a student of hers came with a breathtaking mosaic of Constantine to her class which they had worked on with their parents who were both artists. 

Another favorite memory of hers was when she was teaching Latin 2 and a group of kids who struggled with Latin formed a group called the Study Buddies. They would come to help night every week and would look forward to each meeting. Donnett said she was very proud of her students because she could “sit back as the facilitator [while] they did the work.” One of those students went on to be a Latin teacher.

Donnett would go to sports events, school dances, the Latin state and national convention and sometimes even students’ weddings. She was always willing to go out for coffee with her students. In addition, she would chaperone on the Italy trip for Latin class and a trip to Peru for Spanish.

As a teacher, she was an advisor for the Fencing and Culture club, formerly known as the Jewish Culture Club. She brought fencing back to WHHS and was the advisor for the club for ten years.

Some of her favorite memories as a club advisor come from the Culture Club. She started the annual event of bringing Holocaust survivors to speak at WHHS. She would host a Seder for Passover where each student would bring something to eat and she would invite students from other clubs as well. She wanted to make a club where everyone was welcome.

One thing that she wanted to tell all of WHHS is that there is anti-semitism at WHHS and that it can’t be overlooked.

When she retires, Donnet plans to spend time with her family. She has three children, two sons and one daughter all of whom graduated from WHHS. She also enjoys reading, gardening and traveling. Her mother used to tell her “When one door closes, another door opens, you just have to be smart enough to keep your eyes open.” 

If anyone would like to contact Donnett, she encourages them to write her an email to by June 30. She would love to keep in touch with any students.