JoAnn Carpenter



JoAnn is ecstatic about being a part of the Gorton Children’s Learning Center team. Her work experience with children extends 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, an 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.

Marisa Sherman


Marisa has over eight years of experience working with children. Her educational background consists of a Counseling and a M.A. in Clinical Counseling. She is a long-time resident of Highland Park and has one son and five grandchildren. At Gorton Children’s Learning Center, her goal is to foster independence with each child in their pursuit of self actualization and to guide and support their social and emotional development.

Ta’Niya Weeks

Teacher Assistant

TaNiya has five years of experience working in the field of education. Since she was a sophomore in high school she knew that teaching was not only a passion for her but her main goal. She is now focusing on obtaining her Elementary Education degree from Northern Illinois University while working to increase her working knowledge of the daily flow of a classroom. She grew up in Chicago with her grandparents, cousins and seven dogs. In her spare time, she likes to read motivational books and keep up with the latest fashion. TaNiya is super excited to be learning from and working with the Lead Teachers at Gorton Children’s Learning Center.

Bryanna Musica


Bryanna graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Fall 2022. While earning her degree she worked in a daycare for three years and also worked one on one as a caregiver for a young girl with special needs. After graduation, Bryanna started her career as a third grade teacher at a charter school in Wisconsin. She grew up in a suburban town in Illinois with her parents and a younger brother, as well as all kinds of pets. On nice days you can find Bryanna hiking, playing beach volleyball, swimming, or snowboarding. On rainy days you can find her painting, quilting, reading or sewing. She is super excited to learn all about her students and to help them develop a passion for learning!.

Akhira El-Amin


Being an early childhood educator has always been a passion of Akhira's. She believes that early childhood education is the foundation of building our new generations by providing a nurturing environment with progressive learning experiences, sensory exploration, creativity and lots of love. Akhira has worked with little ones for about 10 years and has experience working with children ranging from infants to school age. She has been a pre-K teacher on the Navy Base and a Lead Twos teacher at Kindercare. She currently holds her Child Development Associate, is CPR & First Aid certified and will be graduating with an Associates in fall 2023. Akhira is continuing her education to obtain a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. In her spare time she LOVES spending time with her children, going on many adventures, exploring museums and eating at fun places. She enjoys everything about art, poetry, music and having tea parties with her daughter. Akhira is also a realtor, so when she's not teaching children she is selling houses!

Florina Mathe

Teacher Assistant

Florina feels happy and fortunate to be a part of Gorton Children's Learning Center team. She holds a degree in Economics and has many years of experience in this field. She decided to follow her passion - being around the children and working with them! Florina attended intensive classes in early childhood edication in Romania and became an Educational Trainer at FasTrackids International. In her free time she likes spending time with family, her husband and her five year old son.

Victoria Bozic

CLC Administrator

Vicky is excited to join the CLC family, and to see new and familiar little faces at the front desk! After growing up in Lake Forest, Vicky got her BS from Indiana University in Apparel Merchandising. She moved back home with her LFHS alum husband to raise her four kids, and eagerly joined the local APT to volunteer for our notable school district 67. She's looking forward to assisting Gorton's special community!

Penny Strang


Penny’s mission is to nourish a child’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning new things, both in the classroom and in nature. She focuses on meeting the children where they are and providing them with the tools they will need to thrive in kindergarten! Penny has over 20 years of experience working with children and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Lake Forest College. She and her husband have lived in Lake Forest for 25 years and raised two grown sons who attended Gorton's Drop-In Center and Camp Gorton summer camps.

Shawne Miles


Shawne finds great joy and fulfillment in working with young children. She views children as pure beings and working with them is an honor and responsibility that she holds in the highest regard. Shawne holds a Business Degree from Trinity College and has 15 years of experience in customer relations and several years of running a home daycare. She is exploring pursuing a master's degree in early childhood education. When Shawne is not at work, she enjoys reading, baking, gardening and spending time with her husband and two teenage daughters.