Inspiring through Experience



Alexis Bridgett, Intern

Alexis Bridgett, born and raised in Washington, DC, attends Kipp DC College Preparatory as a senior student. She plans to attend Delaware State University in hopes of studying social work. As a social worker she imagines giving people the resources that they need to function properly in their environment. Alexis discovered her interest in education as an intern at Accenture, where she developed numerous solutions on how to inspire women to pursue careers in the STEM field. Currently, she is planning to implement talking sessions about why STEM is important and accessible in her high school for both Junior and Senior girls. Now as an intern for Live It Learn It, she plans to further her interest by studying the impact of student learning outside of the classroom.

Justin Brown, Operations Coordinator

Justin Brown grew up in Prince George’s County, MD as the eldest of four boys. An Americorps alum, Justin has worked to build community the past four years in Washington, DC. When not reading or out volunteering, he can be found wandering DC or hanging out with friends and family. One day, he hopes to be part of the 1% and to move out of his parents’ house.

michelle edwards

Michelle Edwards, Executive Director

Michelle Edwards is a native Chicagoan who found her way to Live It Learn It by serving as the principal of Orr Elementary for almost a decade.  Michelle has also served on the board of Live It Learn It for over five years. She received a  B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University and Master’s degrees from Loyola University Chicago and Trinity University, Washington, DC.  Michelle participated in New Leaders, Inc. as a resident principal during its inaugural year in Washington DC and 10 years later  served as the Director of the Emerging Leaders Program.  She recently earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Management from the University of Pennsylvania. Michelle loves her husband and children as well as her beagle, Beauty.


Ali Foley, Experiential Learning Educator

As a proud product of Arlington, Virginia’s public bilingual education program, Ali developed a passion for international cultural heritage and the arts at an early age. An educator at heart and multimedia artist by trade, Ali loves to use art and technology to make classrooms come to life. She has over four years of teaching experience, including a year in Gokseong, South Korea, and several years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Pariahuanca, Peru. Ali has a Bachelor of Arts in Screen Studies and in Spanish Literature from Clark University. She is happy to be back in her hometown sharing experiential education and our local heritage sites with students from DC. In her free time, Ali can be found hiking or trying new foods at restaurants and markets around the city.


Amanda Fransham, Curriculum Content Specialist

Amanda’s adventure in teaching began at Partnerships to Uplift Communities Schools in Los Angeles with Teach for America. The two-year commitment extended to five years, and after many Science Fairs and Rube Goldberg machines, the power of teaching and learning grew to a lifelong commitment. With her past students as her inspiration, Amanda joins the Live It Learn It team bringing with her a zest for deep, joyful learning experiences. She holds an M.Ed. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University and a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.


Angelica Guerrero, Experiential Learning Educator

Angelica grew up in Bogota, a city nestled in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. She spent her childhood touring museums and visiting historical sites around the country, where she learned to appreciate art and urban spaces as a way to learn the stories of people in the past. She has pursued studies in History, Literature, and Journalism, and holds an M.Ed in Social Studies from the Universidad de Los Andes and a graduate teaching certificate in English as a Second Language from American University. Angelica’s journey as an educator began in Colombia and has since brought her to DC, where she’s worked with students who, like herself, moved to a new country and share her passion for learning a new language. When not at work, Angelica can be found traveling with her husband Alex, trying new food and buying chocolate, or curled up reading or watching movies with the family’s two pygmy tigers – Fiva and Artemis.


Kendall Hardy, Intern

Kendall Hardy was raised in Washington, DC, and is youngest of four siblings. She attends Cardozo Education Campus. Kendall plans to attend North Carolina Central University in the Fall of 2018 and intends to study athletic training. She aspires to one day work with a football team in the NFL and own her own athletic training business. She has grown up around her family who has owned multiple businesses. She enjoys playing with her puppy, listening to music, or watching movies and/or Grown-ish.


Lauren Hawley Peters, Senior Director of Programs

Lauren Hawley Peters was raised in the Midwest and grew her teaching legs in rural North Carolina through Teach for America.  At Live It Learn It, Lauren enjoys bringing learning to life through experiments, role plays, and interactive read-alouds; she is inspired as students cultivate a sense of stewardship at the National Zoo and deep sympathy for others at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Beyond the classroom, she has supported the professional development of new teachers nationwide by facilitating summer trainings and as the leader of an online community for elementary educators. She holds an M.Ed. in Education Policy and Leadership from American University and a B.A. from DePauw University.

Mariel O Smith portrait

Mariel Oquendo Smith, Manager of Programming and Communications

Mariel Smith is originally from outside of Baltimore and grew up visiting museums in Maryland and Washington, DC. Those early experiences gave her the strong belief that museums and historic sites are perfect places to learn, explore, and have fun.  She has a B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in museum studies from New York University. Committed to sharing her passion for informal hands-on education, Mariel has worked in museums in Washington, DC and New York City, as well as abroad in London, England. She is proud to be a part of Live It Learn It where she can use her teaching experience and passion for learning to help students explore the wonderful history and resources DC has to offer. Outside of work Mariel loves to read, bake cookies, and watch Star Wars.

Matthew Wheelock3

Matthew Wheelock, Founder 

Matthew’s inspiration for creating Live It Learn It came from the students he taught while a classroom teacher at Walker-Jones Elementary School. In an effort to counteract students’ low literacy levels, Matthew began supplementing classroom instruction with carefully planned, educationally focused trips – and saw his students’ achievement and motivation soar. Seeing this impact, Matthew resolved to create similar opportunities for students in Title I (high-poverty) schools citywide. Prior to teaching, Matthew worked in the fields of law and international relations. He has a B.A. from Williams College, an M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a J.D. from Stanford Law School, and an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where his dissertation focused on the connection between Live It Learn It’s model of teaching and learning and students’ self-efficacy beliefs. Matthew is now an Associate Professor and Director of the Innovation in Education program at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.