top of page

Meet Our Faculty


Jesse Benton


I am originally from Maryland, where I went to school for all of my education. I started at Mt. Aetna Elementary school and moved on to Highland View Academy for high school. Later, I attended Columbia Union College that was just a little over an hour from where I grew up. After college I returned to teach History at my alma mater, Highland View Academy. I taught there for 9 years. Later, I moved to Florida to continue my teaching career. First in Gainesville at Z.L Sung Adventist Academy (where Ms. Young was my principal) and then to EPAA a year later. I met the love of my life, Tarah (Solie) Benton in 2002. We got married in 2005 and had our
daughter, Odessa, in 2011. Tarah is an EPAA alumnus and grew up in the Zephyrhills area. I enjoy riding my bike, fishing, reading and (most of all) spending time with my family. We like to travel and are looking forward to doing some travelling, and making lasting memories, in the coming months and years.
In addition to my job as Principal at EPAA, I teach Social Studies and PE for the upper grades students.


Tarah Benton


Mrs. Tarah Benton is starting her eighth year at EPAA. After working as an aide in the 1st and 2nd grade classroom for two years, she had the opportunity to become a certified VPK instructor and begin teaching in a classroom of her own. She now also holds her Florida VPK Director credential. Tarah is a proud alumna of EPAA, having attended as a student from 2nd through 10th grade. A graduate of Southern Adventist University, Tarah holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and worked several years in the book publishing industry as a book editor and page designer. She feels blessed to now have the opportunity to work at EPAA, where she can be with her family all together in the same place every day. Tarah is married to Jesse Benton, EPAA’s principal, and together they have a daughter, Odessa, who is in the 6th grade at EPAA. In her free time, Tarah enjoys reading, puzzles, traveling, and all things Disney.


Heidi Milliner


I have been teaching for 6 years. I have a bachelors degree in elementary education. I have a minor in English, along with a junior academy certification for Bible, Biology, and a K-12 English certification. I have previously taught at Hoover Christian School in Birmingham, AL; North Tampa Christian Academy in Tampa, FL; Moon Lake Elementary School in New Port Richey, FL. I enjoy teaching Project Based Learning (for science and social studies), ELA, and math. I enjoy cooking with my husband, and going on trips with our dog May.


In class, I use resources like Lexia Core, Raz-Kids, and Dreambox to provide extra practice and reinforcement. I also teach my students according to their academic ability. My primary goal is to ensure students learn about God’s love, and are able to reach grade level standards.


Susie Reyna

Grades 1-2

Susie graduated from Columbia Union College, and is joining our school after teaching for 20 years primarily in public school in Maryland. 

She just celebrated her 19th wedding anniversary this summer, and has three beautiful girls. Alayna is 16, Caylie is 7, and Zoey is 5. She loves her family to the moon and back!

Her hobbies and interests include reading, cooking, gardening, and DIY projects.

Some of her favorite foods are pizza, Caribbean foods, and chocolate cake.

An interesting fact about Mrs. Reyna is that she loves the beach, but doesn't like swimming in water where she can't see the bottom.


Melissa Schiffbauer

Grades 3-4

Melissa graduated from Southern Adventist University with her BA in Elementary Education. She has grown up in Florida and attended SDA schools her entire life. Her hobbies include painting, figure skating, and playing with her cat Kyoto, Aside from teaching, Melissa also contributes as a ministry content creator for the North American Division. 


Frances Young-Abraham

Grades 5-8

I have taught at seven different Seventh-Day Adventist schools in Florida and Tennessee. I served as a principal/teacher in four of those schools. I am a Responsive Classroom trainer and have served as an online and in-person teacher study group leader. I was on the development team which created the small-schools language arts curriculum for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. I worked with a group of teachers with online learning -- teaching around 40 students at 6 different schools on the Florida Conference’s “One-2-One” live program. I have had stories published in Our Little Friend, The Primary Treasure, the Adventist Review, an Adventist women’s devotional, and have published a book.


Nirva Joseph

Grades 5-8

Nirva Joseph is in her seventeenth year as a teacher within the Seventh-day Adventist school system, and her ninth year at EPAA. This is her third year as vice principal at EPAA. She teaches Math and Science for grades 5-8. Mrs. Joseph strives to create a Christ-centered classroom that nurtures growth in a positive, fun environment. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Social Studies from Andrews University, in 2005. In 2010, she went on to receive her M.A. degree in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix. Mrs. Joseph is married to Elysee Joseph and has two wonderful children, Ethan and Ella, who are students at EPAA. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, meeting new people, and spending time with her family, as well as serving our church community as Adventurer Director. 

bottom of page