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Superintendent's Welcome Message

Welcome to the Gardner Grade School 72C website! We are grateful you took the opportunity to access our website to have a better understanding of why we firmly believe Gardner is an amazing place for children to learn and develop skills necessary to thrive in our ever-changing world ! We encourage you to explore the information found in the different links. Should you have further questions or seek more information about a specific topic after exploring our site, please contact the office at 815-237-2313.


Gardner Grade School is located in Gardner, Illinois, approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago. Each day our learners enter the building we strive to live the words of our mission:


“It is the responsibility of Gardner Grade School to educate individuals in a caring, safe, and structured learning environment.  Students, staff and community members will work together so that students will acquire knowledge, skills, responsibility, values and self esteem to be prepared for life-long learning.”


Our school serves the needs of approximately 200 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade.


The educators at Gardner are a skilled, dedicated, and passionate group of professionals focused on providing a welcoming, caring, and engaging learning environment grounded in high expectations for each learner. To ensure our learners are provided the very best education imaginable, we provide our educators with many professional development opportunities based on the authentic, real-life learning opportunities, innovative use of technological resources, and collaborative learning strategies.


To meet the social and emotional needs of our learners, we integrate elements of research-based approaches guiding learners in understanding and practicing the art of positive relationship-building. Gardner educators implement lessons within our curriculum to address social and emotional topics such as bullying, respecting differences, and other positive social interactions to ensure we provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere in our school.


We embrace the parents and family members of our learners as partners in the educational process. We strongly encourage you to contact your child’s educator to ask any specific questions relative to the daily happenings in his/her classroom.


With regards to my professional experiences, the start of the 2019-2020 school year will be my first year in Gardner Grade School District 72C, and my nineteenth year as an educator. My experience in the educational field has been very valuable and rewarding to me as I have served in previous capacities listed below:


Principal - Brentwood Elementary School Des Plaines, IL. 2014-2019

Principal – L. J. Stevens Intermediate School Wilmington, IL. 2012 – 2014

Assistant Principal – Aux Sable Middle School Plainfield, IL. 2008-2012

Dean of Students – Aux Sable Middle School Plainfield, IL. 2006-2008

Physical Education/Health Teacher – Martinez Middle School Romeoville, IL. 2001-2006


As an individual who values continual, life-long learning and a leader who encourages and supports higher learning, I also serve adult learners as an adjunct professor of educational leadership for University of St. Francis. My personal educational background is provided below:


Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership, University of St. Francis May 2015

Master of Arts in School Leadership, Concordia University May 2006

Bachelor of Science in Education – Physical Education, Illinois State University May 2001


I reside in Joliet, Illinois with my wife, Nikcole. We have two adorable children, Caleb and Saralyn.


I very much look forward to establishing long-lasting relationships with learners, educators, parents, and family members. On behalf of the Gardner staff, I encourage and welcome you to take advantage of every opportunity you have to come into our school.


Please feel free to contact me or our Office Manager, Kathy Van Duyne, should you need any further assistance at 815-237-2313.




Proudly serving your families,


Dr. Michael J. Merritt