Children’s Learning Center Staff

JoAnn Carpenter  –  Director
JoAnn Carpenter is ecstatic about being a part of the Gorton Children’s 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 can be reached at joann (at) gortoncenter (dot) org.

Kristin Vallaly  – Administrative Coordinator
Kristin has been a resident of Lake Forest since 2014 with her husband Michael and their three children. She received her BA in secondary education from Purdue University. While her passion has always been education, she spent five years working in research and financial fields after college and before starting her own family. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with the children at the CLC and see them grow. She can be reached at kristin (at) gortoncenter (dot) org.

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 a part of the team at the CLC.

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 CLC 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. 

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 CLC 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.

CLC teacher Giselle

Gisélle Lamb-Dabney –  Teacher
Ms. Giselle holds a BS in Early Childhood Education, and AA in Psychology and is currently working towards a Masters in Library and information Science. She enjys listening to music, taking walks with her dog, and reading – both for herself and to children. She believes that teaching is the greatest act of charity because learning is facilitated by love.

Angela Sandner –  TeacherI have lived in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff my entire life. I received my BS in Elementary Education from St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame and at the same time I received my Montessori Certification from Indiana University.
I have been employed at the Gorton Children’s Learning Center for four years and I have taught for over 15 years in the Montessori and traditional school settings both public and private. I enjoy working with young children. It is a pleasure to watch them grow and discover. I work with each child as an individual to instill in them the love of learning. Every day is a gift that I spend with the children. It is a pleasure to be working so close to home and being able to have my daughter, Kara at the Children’s Learning Center.
My outside of school interests are tennis and spending time in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with my daughter, Kara.