Growing Tree Preschool

Growing Tree Preschool is currently accepting students for the 2022 - 2023 school year.  This will include all full day and half day options. 

Registration is being accepted for our Full Day Preschool (4 - 5 year olds) and Half Day Preschool (3 - 5 year olds) with the option to add childcare 2, 3 or 5 days per week. Our 2 1/2 year old preschool program is available for the upcoming school year.

Parents will be notified of additional safety measures being taken beyond what is outlined in our parent handbook. 

Enroll Today! 

Come grow with us! Growing Tree Preschool is the place to go for preschool since 1975.

Growing Tree Preschool’s philosophy is to educate children in a play-based, creative and nurturing atmosphere. We believe that honoring and fostering the individuality of each child will encourage respect for oneself and for others. We strive to develop a united common goal between families and preschool staff to build academic, social and self-help skills. Our ultimate goal is for children to love coming to school! See all of the preschool options here.

  • Combining learning and fun is our top priority 
  • Clean and healthy environment
  • Safety and security
  • Focused on successful entrance into District 50/56 school system
  • Communication between parents and teachers
  • State of Illinois Early Learning based curriculum
  • Excellent staff
  • Two locations to better serve all of Gurnee

Enroll Today! 

Preschool Options to Fit Every Need

Growing Tree Preschool offers many options to fit every need of your family all year long. View the full list of options below.

Children will learn, grow and prepare for full day Kindergarten in this dynamic class filled with extensive Kindergarten-readiness curriculum based on the State of Illinois Early Learning Standards for preschool which include: social/emotional, language arts, math, science, social science, fine arts, foreign language, physical development and health. This full day curriculum also includes expanded math, science and pre-reading skills along with art, music, daily physical fitness in the gym or outdoors, weekly Spanish and yoga instruction and opportunities to utilize the most current technology. This class offered a full day of curriculum. Before and after preschool childcare options are available.

Enroll Today! 

This class is designed for children who are ready for a longer day and expanded learning to prepare for kindergarten.

Enroll Today! 

Our unique combination of fun and learning promotes a positive adjustment to school, encourages social development and provides an initial experience with kindergarten readiness curriculum.

Enroll Today! 

Parents who work or need extra time can be assured that their three or four year old enrolled in Growing Tree Preschool will have fun with supervised play, crafts, games and outdoor activities.

Learn more and register for Preschool CARE.

This preschool class for our youngest students provides an opportunity to separate from parents, learn the routine of preschool, socialize and interact with peers, gain confidence have fun and be ready for the full Growing Tree Preschool curriculum next year. Toilet training is not required. Pull-ups are permissible.

Why you should choose Growing Tree Preschool

Growing Tree Preschool students with Ms. Jackie

Excellent Staff
Our team has an average of 10 years of teaching experience. Every year, teachers obtain 10 continuing education credits in early childhood education. Teachers are also CPR, First Aid, AED certified and Epi Pen trained. Staff embrace the uniqueness of each individual and are committed to the goal of creating a strong foundation for social and academic success.

Ms. Robin teaching proper hand washing

Clean and Healthy Environment
Preschool is held in bright, clean and well-equipped classrooms. Our well-appointed facilities include exceptional playgrounds and indoor environments for large motor activities, games and play. 

Building FUN in Preschool!

Safety and Security
Our staff is First Aid/CPR/AED certified, DCFS mandated reporters, trained to manage food allergies and accomplished in the supervision of children indoors, outdoors and in emergency situations. All preschool classrooms are locked during class, and pickup procedures allow children to be released only to authorized adults.

Focus on Successful Entrance into Local School Districts
Growing Tree Preschool's curriculum is based on the State of Illinois Early Learning Standards for Preschool. This includes the following learning areas: language arts, math, science, social science, fine arts, foreign language physical and development/health. We work closely with the local school districts to ensure that children are well-prepared for the next academic step. 

Communication Between Parents and Teachers
Families receive a monthly calendar and newsletter along with daily updates that include a detailed description of classroom activities and reminders of upcoming events. We provide progress reports and parent/teacher conference opportunities throughout the year.

Flexible Dates and Times

3 Years Old

  • Half Day Preschool with Childcare Options
    • Monday/Wednesday/Friday
    • Tuesday/Thursday

4 Years Old

  • Half Day Preschool with Childcare Options
    • Monday-Friday
    • Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • Extended Day Preschool with Childcare Options
    • Monday/Wednesday/Friday
    • Tuesday/Thursday
  • Full Day Preschool with Childcare Options
    • Monday-Friday

Classes are available at both Hunt Club Park and Viking Park Community Centers. Extended Day Preschool is exclusively available at Viking Park Community Center and Full Day Preschool is available at Hunt Club Park Community Center.

Requirements and Skills Students Learn in Preschool

3 and 4 Year Old Classes

Student requirements:

  • 3 or 4 years old by September 1
  • Toilet training required

Learning objectives:

  • Develop important social/emotional
    skills
  • Organize work
  • Master cognitive, physical and social
    milestones
  • Expand and sustain attention span
  • Develop organization and problem
    solving skills
  • Have fun and develop life-time love of learning

Curriculum at Growing Tree Preschool

Growing Tree Preschool encompasses all of the State of Illinois Early Learning areas: social/ emotional development, language arts, math, science, social science, fine arts, foreign language, physical development and health in a kindergarten-readiness curriculum. Our goal is to create a warm and nurturing environment that helps children progress to their fullest potential and encourages a love for learning.

 Admission Requirements and Forms

Admission requirements:

  • 3 years old by September 1 (self sufficient in the bathroom)
  • 4 years old by September 1 (self sufficient in the bathroom)

How to Register:

  • $75.00 non-refundable registration fee
  • Tuition payments are non-refundable, non-transferable and may not be pro-rated
  • Monthly tuition is due on the 15th of the previous month (example: October tuition is due September 15)
  • Tuition is based on the total number of days in the school year divided into equal monthly installments      

Forms and Handbooks

2022-2023 Parent Handbook for 2 1/2 Year Olds

2022-2023 Parent Handbook for 3-4 Year Olds

Download Physical Form (Illinois DHS Certificate of Child Health)

Download EFT Authorization Form

Permission to Dispense Medication Form

Preschool CARE

Parents who work or need extra time before or after school can be assured their three or four-year-old enrolled in our Growing Tree Preschool will have fun with supervised play, crafts, games and outdoor activities. Children bring a lunch and beverage each day along with the appropriate outerwear, so we can use our outdoor parks and facilities. Staff will escort children to/from their preschool class. 

Learn more and register for Preschool CARE

2022-2023 No Class Dates

School year begins: August 29 and August 30 
School year ends: May 11 and May 12 

Class will not be held on the dates listed below.

September 5: Labor Day
October 7:  No School
October 10: Columbus Day
November 1: Parent/Teacher Conferences
November 4: Parent/Teacher Conferences
November 23-25: Thanksgiving Holiday
December 23-January 9: Winter Break (school resumes January 10, 2022)
January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 20: President's Day
March 27-March 31: Spring Break
April 7: No School

Please note: Snow/extreme weather days may be made up on the days listed above with the exception of winter and spring break.

Meet the Preschool Staff

GPD2016 ASchneider ColorSue McDougle is the Growing Tree Preschool Manager and also oversees Summer Day Camp, Before/After School CARE, Early Childhood enrichment classes and the Hunt Club Park Community Center. Sue earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from Valparaiso University and is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional. She began her career at Gurnee Park District in 2000, bringing a wealth of teaching and administrative experience and has directly supervised the preschool program since 2003. She is passionate about children in general, preschoolers in particular, and is grateful to have been a part of the early education of so many children in the community.  Sue loves meeting the children in the fall and watching them learn and grow throughout the school year. She is humbled that parents trust her with the early childhood education and care of their child. A highlight of Sue’s time with Growing Tree Preschool is that her former students and their families remain in contact and that many students come to work at the Park District when they are in high school and college. She is honored to work with each of the Growing Tree teachers who are a talented and dedicated team that strives to cultivate a love of learning in their students. Sue resides in Gurnee, has two daughters and a Lab, is an avid cook, gardener and loves all things in nature.

GPD2016 ASchneider ColorAimee Schneider taught at Gurnee Park District for twelve years before becoming the preschool coordinator in 2019. She has an associate's degree in early childhood education. Her favorite part of her position is watching how much children love to learn new things and how proud they are of their accomplishments. She is passionate about making preschool a positive experience for children and parents.

GPD2021 Preschool Teachers SAkbariThis is Saba Akbari's 22nd year teaching preschool at Gurnee Park District. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and five years of experience teaching kindergarten. Saba is a long time resident of Gurnee and her children attended preschool at Gurnee Park District as well. Saba loves teaching preschool age children! 

GPD2016 SWachter ColorThis is Laurie Anderson’s first year teaching with Growing Tree Preschool at Gurnee Park District. She holds a master’s degree in education. Laurie brings ten years of experience teaching preschool and six years in elementary schools. She and her husband, along with their 4 children, have lived in the Gurnee area for 20 years. Laurie’s goal is to have every student’s first school experience be the beginning of a lifelong love of school!

GPD2018 Preschool Teacher JBeinlichJackie Beinlich has a Bachelor’s Degree and is in her 23rd year teaching at Gurnee Park District. As a teacher, she feels it is most inspiring to see the excitement of the children learning and achieving new things. Her goal for each child is to learn something new every day, and to work with parents to encourage a love for learning!


GPD2021 Preschool Teachers LFrederkingLori Frederking is in her 24th year of teaching preschool at Gurnee Park District. She attended College of Lake County and has taught at Gurnee Park District early childhood summer camps and summer preschool for many years. Lori loves helping and watching the children explore and learn new things, as well as the excitement on their faces when they accomplish something new. Lori strives to give children a warm, nuturing, safe, and encouraging place to learn so that the love of learning will stay with them for a long time. 

Sharyl Friedlander webThis is Sharyl Friedlander's fourth year teaching at Gurnee Park District. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degrees and has many years of teaching experience in the Lake Forest School District as well as Woodland School District. Sharyl looks forward to sharing her passion for performing arts and to create a dynamic learning environment for her students.

GPD2021 Preschool Teachers MGouldThis is Megan Gould's 6th year teaching at Gurnee Park District. Megan brings previous preschool teaching experience, prior to raising her children. She has lived in Gurnee for almost 20 years and her youngest children attended preschool at Gurnee Park District. Megan loves seeing the light in children's eyes as they learn and grow!

GPD2016 BHagan ColorThis is Beth Hagan’s ninth year teaching in a specific classroom at Growing Tree Preschool. She holds a bachelor's and master’s degree, and has been home with her children in recent years.  Beth looks forward to seeing the children as they grow throughout the year, and how they progress in their social and educational knowledge and skills. She loves seeing children’s interactions with books and their interest in the stories being told. Beth still reads to her children who once attended Growing Tree Preschool.

GPD2016 SWachter ColorThis is Jaime Hamu’s first year teaching with the Growing Tree Preschool at the Gurnee Park District. She brings 22 years of child care experience to the Growing Tree Preschool and a passion for teaching young children. Jaime loves how young children love unconditionally and are full of excitement and eager to learn. She creates a classroom setting full of warmth and nurturing as well as a great learning environment for the children. Jaime looks forward to getting to know the children and their families and watching the children learn and grow.

GPD2021 Preschool Teachers JMendellThis is Joni Mendell's second year of teaching at Growing Tree Preschool and the CARE program. Joni brings with her nine years of preschool and child development experience. Teaching is Joni's true passion in life and she experiences a great sense of purpose when helping children learn. Nothing makes Joni smile or laugh as much as her students do each day! Joni has lived in Gurnee for most of her life, and attended school in the local districts.

GPD2016 SMurphy ColorSheila Murphy begins her 14th year as a Growing Tree Preschool teacher and holds a bachelor’s degree. She has been a resident of Gurnee for almost 20 years. Her favorite thing about teaching preschool is watching the children grow socially and emotionally and guiding them to become confident and independent.

GPD2016 RPfenning ColorThis will be Robin Pfenning’s 19th year teaching at Growing Tree Preschool/Gurnee Park District. Robin has 11 years of child care experience, and an Associates Degree. Her favorite thing about teaching preschool is interacting with the children.  She loves their honesty and their interesting thoughts and ideas. Robin is most passionate about promoting confidence and developing social skills in the children. Most begin preschool apprehensive about leaving their parents and making new friends and progress to where they are totally comfortable and ready socially and academically to enter the next phase of their education.

GPD2016 LPrims ColorLisa Prims has taught preschool at Gurnee Park District for 11 years and holds a bachelor and master’s degree. Her favorite thing about teaching preschool is being given the opportunity to watch each child grow socially and academically as the year progresses.  She enjoys working closely as a team to make each year fun and successful for each student. She is passionate about early childhood education because she is setting the foundation for future learning.

GPD2016 SWachter ColorThis is Jessica Roberts' first year teaching with Growing Tree Preschool at Gurnee Park District. She holds a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies with an Emphasis in Elementary Education. Jessica has many years of experience working in various fields including Education, Athletics, Customer Service and E-commerce. She is passionate about enriching the lives of young people, and her hope is to give them the tools they need to be confident, happy individuals who learn and grow each day. She resides in Gurnee with her two children.

GPD2016 MASchriefer ColorMary Ann Schriefer: This is Mary Ann's 22nd year teaching at Gurnee Park District. She teaches 3 and 4 year old classes as well as Early Childhood classes. She attended Anne Arundel Community College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Mary Ann loves to see the children learn self-help and social skills and to see the joy on the children’s faces as they learn a new skill or concept. She is passionate about creating a playful environment where children learn to love school.

GPD2016 SWachter ColorStacy Wachter has been a Growing Tree Preschool teacher for 14 years. Her favorite thing about teaching preschool is getting to know all of the children and their families, and learning how to serve their individual needs. Stacy is passionate about helping children see and learn about the world around them, helping them gain self-esteem and celebrating little victories along the way. Stacy attended the College of Lake County.

Payment and Refund Information

Participants will pay a $75.00 non-refundable registration fee at the time of registration. The first tuition payment is due on July 15. After July 31, the $75.00 registration fee and one tuition payment will be due at the time of registration and are non-refundable. Subsequent payments are due on the 15th of each month beginning September 15. Payments are made by an automatic debit to a credit card or bank account that is set up at the time of registration. Tuition payments made after the 15th of the month are subject to a $10.00 late fee.

Tuition is based on the total number of school days divided into nine equal monthly installments. Failure to make a tuition payment will result in the removal of the child from the class. If a child is withdrawn at any time during the school year, the registration fee and tuition are non-refundable. Tuition is not pro-rated for partial month attendance.