The Gardner School
of Bucktown

The Gardner School's Bucktown preschool campus is located at 1612 W. North Avenue, less than 1/4 mile off the Kennedy Expressway (90/94). 

Our Bucktown campus offers year-round full and part-time childcare with early childhood education programs for children six weeks old through private Pre-K. In addition, we will also provide 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 The Gardner School a very special place for young children.

Enrichment Programs Offered


Be Smart Computers

For Ages: 18 Months +


For Ages: 18 Months +


For Ages: 2 Years +


For Ages: 2 Years +


For Ages: 2 Years +


For Ages: 2 Years +

Bucktown Campus Leadership

Kerry Alholm
School Director

How long have you been with TGS? 
Since August 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. It's exciting to now be at our Bucktown school and bring my passion for children and early learning here.

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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Jennifer Rappel
Assistant Director

How long have you been with TGS?
I started in February of 2017.

Roles Served with TGS?
I started as a teacher in the Imagination A classroom and soon transitioned into the lead teacher of our Enchantment program at TGS Glenview-Northbrook. After one year of teaching, I was very honored to accept the promotion of Assistant Director at our Bucktown location.
What is your educational background? 
I graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Development along with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. 
What made you decide to have a career in education? 
Ever since I was a child and played “school” with my friends with extra worksheets from my teachers, I knew that education was my path. I have always loved children and being able to help them develop and learn about the world. During college, I became a nanny and stayed with the same family for over five years. I began to understand a great deal about the learning process and development of young children and wanted to be able to help guide children along their journey.
What makes you laugh about kids? 
Their honesty and interpretations of how the world works. I always know who to talk to, to brighten up my day, a kid!
What is your favorite part of the day at TGS?
My favorite part of the day is when the children get ready to go home and tell me all about their day. I love seeing and hearing their excitement of what they learned about, got to explore or what they played with that day. I also love talking with parents. I believe it is important to build strong relationships with families and get to know them.
What are your passions? 
My two biggest passions are education and music. I love to explore different ways we can teach and help our children grow. I strive to make sure every child is given a chance and provided with the best education one can offer. As for music, I grew up playing stand up bass along with electric. Music has always played an important role in my life and has helped me be the person I am today. I also believe that incorporating music into education is so important.
What does the term ‘Where Learning Begins’ mean to you? 
We get the children early when they can be influenced, shaped and taught that school is a place where they are safe, where they can dream big, where they can learn in a fun but structured atmosphere. A good school can teach them that school is important and hopefully this positive experience will carry them through their years of education.
What do you love most about TGS?
What I love most about TGS is the sense of community it creates. The staff develops strong relationships with the children and families. They begin to rely on each other and support each other throughout. The staff is also there for each other and that is a very important part of the foundation for a school.

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