Superintendent Sue Carnell to retire


The Westwood Community School District's motto is Education with CARE: Commitment, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. Under the direction of retiring superintendent, Sue Carnell, the district has attained those standards.

The district serves the cities of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and Inkster, and manages six schools, including one of Wayne County's first cyber high schools. Carnell oversaw the implementation of online learning along with other technology-based programs into the district. Carnell, who has been with the district since July of 2010, will be retiring at the end of this school term.

When she first began to serve as superintendent in 2010, Carnell brought with her a wealth of educational knowledge and experience. She holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in special education and recently earned her doctorate at Eastern Michigan University. She has worked as a special education teacher, a school principal and has held numerous supervisory positions, including in the areas of early childhood and adult education. She has also served as Governor Jennifer Granholm's educational policy advisor and has worked as deputy superintendent for Detroit Public Schools.

One of the biggest challenges of her career came when then-governor Granholm wanted to change the state's high school graduation requirements. An educator herself, Carnell recalls how difficult it was to communicate with communities in the state and legislators in Lansing to convince them the governor's plan would be a positive thing. The changes were eventually passed by the state legislature, balancing out the basic graduation requirements in all state districts for high schoolers.

A product of Inkster Public Schools, Carnell was optimistic when the circumstance presented itself to serve in the Westwood School District. "I wanted to come back home to try to do what I can here,"

Carnell says. "The district has made substantial gains in eliminating its deficit, getting its high school off the high priority list and offering a lot of opportunities for students."

Carnell has enjoyed working in the education field. Upon retiring next month, Carnell says what she will miss most are the people she has worked with. She has made a genuine effort to get to know her staff and to keep the communication professional, yet open and friendly. "Every time when I come in in the morning, I go around here to check on everyone," she says. "How was their evening? How is their family? I'll miss the people because there are great, caring and warm individuals here."

Even though retired, Carnell plans to remain engaged within the educational community. While travel, exercise and time with grandkids are on her agenda, she also has plans to begin teaching at a university. She and her husband recently moved to Detroit, so exploring the city and its diversions are also part of her plans.

Carnell would like to thank the Westwood Community, including parents, businesses and the school board for supporting the school district. "We couldn't have done it without them," she says. Looking back on her career as an educator, Carnell adds, "I love to see children grow...and how excited they get about learning."


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