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About Real Life ALC Tampa

Real Life ALC Tampa is a culmination of two dreams. Elizabeth Mahaney and Susan Embury both desired to create a space where children are free to learn without judgment or coercion, at their own pace, while being encouraged in their individual endeavors. Liz created Real Life, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to open learning to foster her dream, and Susan joined the board in 2014. In 2016, Susan was introduced to the Agile Learning Centers via a dear friend, and she showed the model to Liz. The philosophy matched our dreams, so here we are!

Elizabeth Mahaney

Founder, Chief Administrator

Elizabeth Mahaney is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with a specialty in marriage, parenting, children, and couples. She’s also a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. She graduated with a degree in psychology from USF, and holds a PhD in counseling. She’s a Florida supreme court certified family law mediator, and is on the board of The Tampa Bay Association for Psychotherapists. Liz has her own counseling and therapy practice, South Tampa Therapy. She has two lovely children, and has always sought to ensure their education be one of self-directed learning. 

Liz started Real Life, Inc. as a resource center for self-directed education in 2012, and when she was introduced to the Agile Learning model, transformed the nonprofit into Real Life ALC.

Susan Embury

Founder, Director, Lead facilitator 

After traveling the world as an entertainer, Susan Embury received her BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley. She received her MS in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries from The London School of Economics. A staunch social justice activist, Susan helped to found and run a nonprofit for marginalized communities in the informal sector, for which her duties included rallying diverse populations to a common cause and planning and executing conferences for several hundred people. She supplemented her income during that time by doing graphic and web design.

In 2009, she gave birth to a beautiful boy and decided to step down from her nonprofit work and social justice activism. Susan is currently a stay-at-home mom, and her social justice activist background combined with motherhood has fostered her interest in attachment parenting and alternative education. She is currently a member of several homeschooling/unschooling groups, and has started her own group along the same lines.


Marriah Harris


Bio coming soon