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Our Staff

The heart of our organization is our qualified, caring, and hardworking staff.

They are responsible for maintaining the environment and programs which help children build their confidence and enthusiasm for learning and to feel secure and loved.  They are also the key element in ensuring that parents remain involved in the children’s growth and are happy with the overall results of our program. 


Our highly credentialed staff at Children's Garden Learning Center have many combined years of experience in early childhood along with many combined hours in early childhood education coursework. Their qualifications meet or exceed those prescribed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.


Every member of our CGLC teaching staff is also required to have a minimum of 20 hours of continued early childhood education every year.

Kristen Bates
Center Director

Kristen has been our Center Director since November 2023. She first became part of the Children's Garden Learning Center team in 2016 as a substitute teacher and by August of the same year began teaching full time.  She has worked in various classrooms with children ranging in age from infant through 5 years old and was a vital part of our preschool team.  She served as our Assistant Director of Mentorship prior to being promoted to Center Director. That role included assisting new staff in learning the roles of their job and acclimating to the CGLC environment, interviewing and evaluating new employees, encouraging and supporting staff, and building morale.


Kristen graduated from Lewis and Clark Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Science and is currently working toward earning her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Blackburn College. She holds an ECE Level 2 Credential with INCCRRA and is certified in CPR, First Aid, SIDS, and SBS.


Born and raised in Carlinville, Kristen still calls Carlinville her home where she and her fiancé are raising two beautiful little girls. She enjoys spending time with her family and eating out (especially Mexican food) with friends! Summertime is her favorite time of the year because she loves taking her girls to the pool and water parks.


Kristen’s favorite thing about being at CGLC is watching all the kids at the center grow and getting to know all the families. She also really loves being so close to her own kids who attend CGLC!

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Stephanie Emery
Consulting Director

Stephanie Emery has been a part of the Children's Garden Learning Center team since the very beginning of its organization in 2002, and served as our Director from 2015 until 2023. With over 20 years of early childhood experience, Stephanie also holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and earned her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University in 2019.

Stephanie is a member of both the NAC and NAEYC organizations and has earned many credential through INCCRRA. Currently she has a Director Level 3 Credential, ECE Level 6 Credential, and an Infant & Toddler Level 5 Credential. 


She has a passion for childcare advocacy, speaking often with community leaders including state senators and house representatives to present the significant needs of Early Childhood providers in our state.  She has spoken before the Education Committee at the Illinois State Capital and works with the Springfield chapter of NAEYC. 


She and her husband Jake, have three children, ages 12, 17, and 22. Along with her family, she enjoys spending time outdoors - especially trips to the pool in the summer with her kids.

Born and raised in Carlinville, Illinois, Stephanie is an active and very busy member of her local community. She serves as Treasurer for Mac-Gomery Christian Service Camp, Volunteers in the Christian Childrens' Ministry and is a Door Greeter at Cross Church. She has also served as a successful volunteer grant writer for the Macoupin Historical Society. 

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Theresa Cooper
Assistant Director
Curriculum Development

Theresa Cooper joined Children's Garden Learning Center in February of 2006 and has been a part of our Preschool program since the early years. She graduated with a Bachelors degree in Child and Family Studies with a minor in Psychology from Northwest Missouri State University in 2005. 

Theresa has earned many INCCRRA  credentials. She currently has earned a Director Level 1 Credential, an ECE Level 4 Credential, and an Infant & Toddler Level 3 Credential. She is trained in CPR, First Aid, SIDs and SBS.

Theresa was born in North Dakota but lived in Missouri and Arkansas before attending university in Maryville, Missouri. After graduating, Theresa moved to Illinois where she and her husband, Eric, are raising their three young children - 11, 13, and 15 years old. Her young family keeps her very busy with their activities - dance, soccer, Awana, and church youth. 


Theresa attends Cross Church where she also serves in the infant nursery. She loves live music performances and going to concerts with her friends. Game nights with friends and family or heading out to the movies is a favorite pastime as well. 


Theresa's favorite thing about teaching is witnessing how much the children grow and change throughout the year.  She loves to see them discover something new and watch their excitement as they explore and learn more about it. 

​"A great teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart." Unknown
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2024 Gold Circle of Quality Award
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." Albert Einstein
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