Drop-In Center Staff

Kristy Richardson-Director
Kristy 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 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 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 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. Read More.

Linda Schnuer-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.

Trish 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.

Angela Stensrud-Teacher Assistant
Angela has spent her entire life in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Her husband Brock and she live in Lake Bluff with their 16-month-old daughter. She received my BS in Elementary Education from St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame and at the same time received my Montessori Certification from Indiana University. She has taught for over 15 years in the Montessori and traditional school settings both public and private. She enjoys working with young children. It is a pleasure to watch them grow and discover. She works with children as individuals to instill in them the love of learning. Every day is a gift that she spends with the children. It is a pleasure to be working so close to home and being able to have her daughter at the Drop-In Learning Center. Her outside of school interests are tennis and spending time in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.