Melinda Martinez-Epperson is a 2023-2024 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Policy Fellow. Melinda is the preschool and kindergarten teacher at and founder of The Play Lab in Chicago, Illinois. She has a small progressive home preschool and kindergarten and specializes in play and whole-child education. Melinda and her school “The Play Lab” were one of five schools in the state of Illinois to win the Whole Child Award from the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Melinda was also recognized by The Albany Park Chamber of Commerce for her contribution to her community. Melinda began her professional career as a Type 4 Licensed Teacher in Chicago, Illinois. She earned dual BAs in early childhood education and psychology: human growth and development as well as an MEd in early childhood administration from National Louis University. She is currently pursuing her EdD in curriculum, advocacy, and policy from National Louis University.