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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 ninth 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 7th grade at EPAA. In her free time, Tarah enjoys reading, puzzles, traveling, and all things Disney.

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Perla Botomo


A year ago, God brought me here from the State of Texas where I worked as an elementary bilingual teacher for six years, but I am from Venezuela where I completed my university studies. One of the roles that I enjoy the most is being the mother of my three children, my princess Esmeralda 17, and my two princes José 12 and Miguel 4. I love the beach, I enjoy exploring and being in contact with nature with my family. I also like many sports but I don't practice any.


Susie Reyna

Grades 1-2

Susie graduated from Columbia Union College, and starting her second year at our school after teaching for 20 years primarily in public school in Maryland. 

She just celebrated her th20 wedding anniversary this summer, and has three beautiful girls. Alayna is 17, Caylie is 8, and Zoey is 6. 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.

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Heidi Franks

Grades 3-4

This is Heidi's first year at our school, and we are glad to have her! She has spent more than 10 years working with children in various capacities. Ms. Franks holds a master’s degree in International Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Social Work from Walla Walla University. She is presently working towards receiving her Adventist teaching credentials through the Southern Union of Seventh-day Adventists. In her free time, Ms. Franks enjoys walking on the beach and collecting seashells.


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 eightteenth year as a teacher within the Seventh-day Adventist school system, and her tenth year at EPAA. This is her fourth 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. 

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