Faculty & Staff

Principal: Mr. Jesse Benton, BA

This is Jesse Benton's fifth year of teaching at EPAA. He teaches grades 5-10 Language Arts and Social Studies. This is his 13th year teaching. Before coming to EPAA, Mr. Benton taught in his hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland, for nine years, and in Gainesville, Florida, for one year. Mr. Benton graduated from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland, with a Bachelor of Arts in History, and minor in philosophy. Mr. Benton and his wife, Tarah (who is an alumnus of EPAA), have a daughter named Odessa.


Pre-K: Mrs. Tarah Benton, BS

Mrs. Benton is beginning her first year as a VPK teacher at EPAA. She graduated from Southern Adventist University and is married to Mr. Jesse Benton, who also teaches at the school. Their daughter Odessa is in the first grade at EPAA. 


Pre-K: Mrs. Merrilyn Johnson, BA

Merrilyn Johnson has lived in Zephyrhills for over a decade and is no stranger to EPAA. Before joining the teaching team at EPAA, she was the hot lunch coordinator, active parent volunteer, and after school tutor. She graduated from Southern Adventist University and is married to James Johnson, pastor of the Carrollwood and Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Her children, Carys and Aiden, are students at EPAA.


Kindergarten: Mrs. Julie Center, MA

Mrs. Center has taught at EPAA for 20 of her 22 years of teaching experience. She completed her Masters degree in Inclusive Education from Southern Adventist University in December 2012 which is also where she received her Bachelors degree. She and her husband, Doug, have two children who both attended EPAA. Lexie graduated from Southern Adventist University with a B.S. in Public Relations in May of 2016 and Parker is a junior at SAU this year.


1st & 2nd Grade: Mrs. Natasha Garcia, BA

This is Mrs. Garcia-Lane's first year at EPAA, and she previously worked in Gainesville for 6 years. She graduated from St. Leo University with her B.A. in education in 2011. Mrs. Garcia with her husband and four children relocated to Zephyrhills this July.


3rd & 4th Grade: Ms. Melissa Anderson, 


5th - 8th Grade: Mrs. Nirva Joseph, MA

Nirva Dorcin-Joseph is in her eleventh year as a teacher within the Seventh-day Adventist school system. She grew up and lived in the Northeast for most of her life. Mrs. Joseph graduated from Andrews University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. In 2010, she graduated with an M.A. degree in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix. During her free time, she enjoy traveling, reading, meeting new people, and spending time with her family. She loves teaching and watching each child grow spiritually and academically. 


5th - 8th Grade: Mrs. Young, BS

Mrs. Frances Young has taught in the Adventist school system for 22 years, most recently in Gainesville. She teaches Grades 5-10 Science and Biology, and Language Arts and Math to Grades 5 & 6. She enjoys fishing, horses, gardening, camping, writing, and her pet dog, Angel. Ms. Young is the proud mama of two adult sons, Scott and Adam.


Mrs. Liz Theodore
Teacher Aide

Mr. Norman Claypool
Maintenance & Grounds

Front Office

Mr. Charles Brainard
Grounds & Aftercare

Ms. Christina Head

Ms. Vicci Capper
Lunch Coordinator

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