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DILC Staff Biographies

Kristy headshot 2017Kristy Richardson DirectorKristy is so happy to be part of the Gorton Drop In Learning Center staff.  She left the corporate world in 2011 after the birth of her son to resume her career in Early Childhood Education. She holds a B.A. in English from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO and fulfilled her Illinois Type 04 early childhood teaching certificate credentials at North Park University in Chicago.  She has experience teaching preschool, 1st and 2nd grade, kindergarten, toddlers and infants. She strives to create a fun, loving and nurturing environment for the children at Gorton Children’s Drop in Learning Center each day.

Marni headshot 2017Marni Cooper 2s/3s Teacher.  Marni is married and has two girls-Hailey, age 11, and Lindsey, age 10. Marni has her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Roosevelt University. She has over 12 years of experience and has enjoyed working with children in a variety of settings including Junior High, Elementary school, and Preschool. When she's not running a shuttle service back and forth from her girls' Swim and Tae-Kwondo practice, you can find her at the gym, cooking, shopping, and spending tons of time with her family and friends.  She is excited to be part of the team at the DILC.


Julie headshot 2017Julie Phillips- 2's/3's Teacher. Julie lives in Lake Bluff with her husband Gerry and oldest son Alex.  She has two other sons.  Her son Tim is a pilot for the Air Force and her son Andrew is a Restaurant Manager in Indiana.  Julie has worked at the DILC for over 16 years. She recently completed her CDA (Child Development Associate Credential) and loves working with children.  She feels very fortunate to have such a rewarding job.



JoAnn headshot 2017JoAnn Carpenter- Assistant Director/Infants and Toddlers Teacher.  JoAnn Carpenter is ecstatic about being a part of the Gorton Drop-In Learning Center team. Her work experience with children expands over twenty years. During these twenty years, she has had the opportunity to hold both director and classroom positions. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Barat College in Lake Forest, IL, M. A. in Human Resource Development from Webster University in St Louis, MO and early childhood education credentials, Infant Toddler Specialist and School Age Programming certifications from the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL.

She is inspired in her daily efforts by a commitment statement she wrote with a group of nine year old children 15 years ago, “I am committed to contributing to the academic, recreational, cultural and social development of all children”. She is married and has five children. Her hobbies and interest include gardening, spending time with family and friends, and fighting for a good cause.


Linda headshot 2017Linda Schneur  Pre-kindergarten teacher. Linda has over 20 years experience teaching young children.  She received her Masters of Arts in early childhood education from Concordia university. Throughout her career, she has worked in a wide variety of preschool settings including both public and private schools.  Linda is so happy to be part of the DILC and is thrilled to be working with the 3s, 4s and 5 year olds.  She brings creativity to projects, allows for creative learning activities to challenge the children, and is a warm and caring person.

Linda lives in Buffalo grove with her husband and two daughters.  When not spending time with friends and family, Linda enjoys biking, reading and baking.


headshot Trish 2017Trish Burns co-teacher.  Trish is a lifelong Lake Forest/Lake Bluff resident and loves working at Gorton because of the wonderful co-workers and the fact that she gets to work with all the classrooms.  She is an energetic and child focused early education professional.  She fulfilled her teacher credentials at CLC and spent 13 years at Joy Time Preschool in Lake Forest.  Trish is married with one daughter.




 Debbie Rukstales 2s/3s Teacher Assistant. Debbie is very happy to be a part of the Gorton Drop In staff. Her favorite activities to do with 2s and 3s are putting on puppet shows, narrating flannel board stories, and making Play-Doh creations. Debbie has a B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She is currently working on her infant/toddler certificate at CLC.  Debbie has worked with children in varied settings including a childcare center for ages 6 weeks to 12 years, and a K/1 special needs classroom. She lives in Gurnee with her husband and 4 teenagers (2 are in college). In her free time, she enjoys movies, books, and being outdoors.



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