Naperville, IL

The Gardner School of Naperville is significantly more than a traditional childcare center or daycare. As a private, academically focused preschool that specializes in early childhood education, we cater to those families who want the best for their child. We provide full and part-time child care year-round and a research-based educational curriculum for children six weeks old through private Kindergarten. 

In addition, we also offer a full suite of enrichment classes and our summer camp, Camp Gardner. All of our lead teachers have four-year degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, or a closely related field. The stimulating, creative, and educationally engineered school has been designed to meet the needs of our most important client... the children. Attention to detail, both inside and outside the classroom, is what makes TGS a very special place for young children.

Enrichment Programs Offered

Be Smart Computers

a phonics- & math-based program
For ages: 18 mos & up

Gymnastics

skills, body awareness & discipline
For ages: 18 mos & up

Spanish

vocabulary, speaking & understanding
For ages: 2 years & up

Soccer

fundamentals & hand-eye coordination
For ages: 2 years & up

Martial Arts

non-competitive physical fitness
For ages: 2 years & up

Baseball

fundamentals & hand-eye coordination
For ages: 18 mos & up

Dance

ballet & tap skills and vocabulary
For ages: 2 years & up

Advanced Computer

Kindergarten prep program
For ages: 4 years & up

Naperville Campus Leadership

Kerry Finnegan
Kerry Finnegan | School Director

Kerry Finnegan

Years with TGS?

Since 2010

Roles Served with TGS?

I began my career with The Gardner School at TGS Franklin in 2010. During my time at TGS Franklin I worked as both a teacher, the Enrichment Coordinator, and as the Assistant Director. In 2012, I was relocated to Illinois and I was given the opportunity to open our first Gardner School of Illinois as the Executive School Director of Naperville.

What is your educational background? 

I attended La Salle University in Philadelphia where I obtained a BA in Criminal Justice with a minor in Elementary and Special Education.

What made you decide to have a career in education?

After I graduated from college, I was a nanny for a family that had a two year old daughter. At that time I didn’t realize how much I loved working with younger children. I was amazed each day as her vocabulary grew, and she transformed from a toddler to a bright, funny, and inquisitive little girl. It opened my eyes to a career I had never imagined for myself, and as soon as she was ready to head off to Kindergarten, I began applying for teaching positions in preschools.

What do you love most about working with infants through the age of 5?

I love that the parents allow us to be a part of their child’s life. I have been given the gift of watching children walk for the first time, say their first word, and accomplish a task they had been struggling with, like tying their shoes, completing a challenging puzzle, or identifying a sight word. Each day I am reminded of how rewarding this profession is and of how lucky I am to be a part of it. 

What is your favorite part of the day at TGS? 

I love visiting each classroom in the morning to greet all of the teachers and the students. It gives me a chance to visit with them and the children are excited to show me all of the new things they have learned from the day before.

What do you love most about TGS?

The relationships we have with the families. We have a staff that genuinely cares not only for the child in their classroom, but for the parents as well. We pride ourselves in the bonds we form and it is evident each morning when the teacher is reunited with the student.

What is your fondest memory of TGS thus far? 

Having the opportunity to introduce Illinois to The Gardner School. When I first moved to Naperville, no one knew about our school. I have had the chance to watch TGS Naperville grow into the school it is today.

What does the term ‘Where Learning Begins’ mean to you? 

We provide a foundation for our student’s educations. The teachers at TGS encourage their students to explore, to ask questions, and most importantly, to love learning. I feel TGS helps children to develop a love of learning at a young age that will follow them their entire lives.

How important is early childhood education? 

Early childhood education provides an important foundation for your child’s developmental needs. It enhances not only their cognitive development, but their social development as well.

Do you have children who go to TGS or have gone to TGS?

No. Someday!

What would you tell new parents who are apprehensive about leaving their infant in the care of someone else for the first time?  

My goal is to ensure that your child’s educational and social needs are met, while also providing you with the guidance and support needed when choosing a preschool. Choosing a school for your child is not an easy decision, and we are honored to play a role in their education and development. Our staff is here to help you along through this journey and want TGS to be a second home for you and your child.

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Meghan Martin
Meghan Martin | Assistant Director

Years with TGS?

Since 2013

Roles Served with TGS?

I started with The Gardner School of Naperville when we opened our doors in 2013. I began as a Lead Teacher in our Enchantment classroom, and as our enrollment grew I continued to move onto the next age level. I went on to become the Lead Teacher in our Pre-Kindergarten Classroom and then started our Private Kindergarten program as the Kindergarten Teacher the following year. During that time I also took on the role as our Director of Curriculum and as our Enrichment Coordinator. I was then promoted to becoming the Assistant Director of our school.

 What is your education background?

I attended Western Illinois University and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a type 03 K-9 Teaching Certificate with endorsements in Language Arts and Social Science.

What made you decided to have a career in education?

Since I was eight years old I have always known I wanted to be a teacher. It started after my little sister was born, I would set my younger brother and sister up in chairs and give them “assignments” to do and teach them “lessons” that I had prepared for them (they were less than thrilled, to say the least). As I grew older I became more involved in various programs that allowed me to gain teaching experience. I was involved in everything from coaching to tutoring to teaching swim lessons to volunteering at summer camps. Once I was a senior in high school I became a part of the TAP Program which allowed high school students to be aides in elementary school classroom. That experience was what truly sealed the deal for me and helped me make the decision to further my education and obtain a degree in education.

What do you love most about working with infants through the age of 5?

The thing I love the most about being a part of TGS is having the opportunity to experience the “firsts” with so many students. There is nothing in this world like being there when a child hits that developmental milestone and exhibits one of their “firsts”. Some of my favorite “firsts” include the first time a child recognizes their name, seeing a child take their first steps, hearing a child speak their first word, knowing when a child has had their first potty success, listening to a child when they first learn how to read and being there to help coach a child through losing their first tooth. The feeling you get when witnessing a child meet these developmental milestones is truly indescribable and is a major reason why I love my job so much!

 

What is your favorite part of the day at TGS?

My favorite part of the day at TGS is the end of the day when the children are walking out for the night with their parents in hand. I love being able to speak with each and every student and hear that exciting story or experience that happened at school that day. Some students choose to show art projects that they made that day or share a new fact they had learned while others just leave with a big smile on their face. Either way they walk out of this building buzzing with new experiences they had, new knowledge they learned and new goals they have set for themselves.

What do you love most about TGS?

Something I love most about TGS is our sense of community and that we are truly a TGS Naperville family. It is wonderful having such open communication with our families, it allows for the parents and us to be each other’s support systems. Having this type of open communication allows for parents that are embarking on their child’s education journey to have that added support and to know that we are here to help them along their child’s educational journey.

What is your fondest memory of TGS thus far?

My fondest memory of TGS thus far has been the year we first started our Private Kindergarten Program. We were the first school in Illinois to launch our Kindergarten Program so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect.  When the year first began we only had a few students enrolled but by the end of the year we had doubled in class size! It was such an amazing opportunity and having a smaller class size allowed us to explore and discover new things that were beyond our curriculum, it allowed our imaginations to be our guide. We had the flexibility and freedom that allowed children to explore new interests that they had never known before.  It turned out to be such an incredible year that I will certainly never forget. All of the parents and I still remain in contact with and get together at birthday parties and at the TGS Kindergarten Alumni events!

What does the term “Where Learning Begins” mean to you?

To me the term “Where Learning Begins” means that we are the start of your child’s educational journey that will continue on into their adulthood. We are the very first educators that will help mold these young minds and support them in meeting those imperative developmental milestones. We are the mentors that will first show them how to use their imaginations and help to instill that sense of discovery, exploration and overall guide that student to develop that love of learning.

How important is early childhood education?

Early childhood education is imperative for the growth and wellbeing of children. It is the foundation for which all other education is built upon. It gives them the opportunity to develop socialization skills as well as sets them up for academic achievements. It brings educators, children and parents together and establishes a close-knit group that are bound for academic success. 

Do you have children who go to TGS or have gone to TGS?

Not yet, but hopefully someday!

What would you tell new parents who are apprehensive about leaving their infant in the care of someone else for the first time?

I would tell those parents that their children are in good hands. We are very selective on who we hire as teachers at our school. We hire the best of the best to ensure that each and every teacher is here to nurture, love and educate every student that enters our building. 

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TGS of Naperville Career Opportunities

We are always looking for talented, qualified teachers. Contact us to learn more about our available positions.

Contact TGS