Drop-In Center Staff

Marni Cooper –  Teacher
Ms. Marni has her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Roosevelt University. She has over 15 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 husband and two teenage daughters. She loves being apart of the team at the DILC.

Julie Phillips –   Teacher
Ms. Julie lives in Lake Bluff with her husband Gerry. She is a long time resident of Lake Bluff and raised her three grown sons there.  Julie has been apart of the lives of the DILC students for over 18 years.   She holds a CDA (Child Development Associate Credential) and loves working with children. She feels very fortunate to have such a rewarding job. In her free time Julie loves to spend time with her three grandchildren and family. 

JoAnn Carpenter – Assistant Director/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 –  Teacher
Trish is a lifelong Lake Forest/Lake Bluff resident and loves working at Gorton because of the wonderful co-workers and children.  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.



Kristin Vallaly – substitute teacher

Kristin has been a resident of Lake Forest since 2014 with her husband Michael and their 3 children. She received her BA from Purdue University in secondary education. While her passion has always been education, she spent 5 years working in research and financial fields after college before starting her own family. She has in the past taught preschool gym classes for the McGaw YMCA in Evanston and spent many years coaching and teaching swimming to children of all ages. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with the children at the DILC and see them grow.

For the last 10 years, she has been a stay-at-home mom and very active in the district 67 community. She also teaches various formats of Zumba in her free time.