Staff

Dr. Sarah Allison

DIRECTOR

Dr. Sarah Allison founded Allison Academy as a private school in 1983. The school grew out of the Reading, Math &Learning Center in North Miami Beach, which started in 1970 as a specialized supplemental program providing testing, tutoring, and other educational services.

Dr. Allison is an alumna of Nova University where she earned her Doctorate in early and middle childhood education specializing in varying exceptionalities and reading. She was an adjunct professor beginning in 1993, and has a Master’s Degree from Florida State University in reading, special education, and psychology. and a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University in elementary education.

Prior to founding Allison Academy, Dr. Allison served as consultant to private schools and has taught in public schools in Broward and Gadsden Counties. She is a member of the Board of the Association of Independent Schools of Florida where she has held offices and is a Director Emerita. She was awarded the Alan O”Such Outstanding Service Award, and the Distinguished Educator Award. Dr. Allison was selected for the Alpha Delta Kappa Excellence in Education Award for the State of Florida, and for the ADK Gulf Regional Conference Excellence in Education for her outstanding contributions to
education.

Simone Benchimol

FACULTY

Mrs. Benchimol received her Baccalaureat Degree in Rabat, Morocco, her Certificat d’ Aptitude Pedagogique Degre elementaire from the Ministere de l’Education Nationale, Meknes, Morocco, and her Certificat d’Aptitude Pedagogique Degre Normal in Rabat, Morocco.

Mrs. Benchimol taught French in Morocco before immigrating to the United States with her husband and three children. She began her educational career here teaching French and Spanish at the Jewish High School of South Florida. Mrs. Benchimol continued her teaching of Spanish and French at Miami-Dade Community College, Wolfson Campus, and Florida International University before coming to Allison Academy in 1997.

Elthon Castillo

FACULTY

Mr. Castillo received his B.S. degree from Florida International University (FIU) in architecture. After obtaining his B.S. degree in 2003, Mr. Castillo worked as a junior architect and drafting engineer in several architectural, engineering, and construction firms in Broward and Miami –Dade counties. His teaching career began in 2009 when he became an adjunct professor of computer-aided drafting design and construction management at ITT Technical Institute locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Mr. Castillo joined the faculty of Allison Academy for the 2012-13 school year, where he is teaching high school mathematics and science. In addition, he is one of the coordinators of the Allison Academy chess club. Mr. Castillo is a Florida Certified teacher for middle grade (5-9) Mathematics, and science, high school mathematics (6-12), and elementary (K-6) education.

Shaidy Fernandez

FACULTY

Mrs. Fernandez is a Florida State Certified Teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida International University, and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. While working at the FIU Center for Academic Success, Mrs. Fernandez tutored and mentored students of all ages, helping them achieve their academic goals. In addition, Mrs. Fernandez has previous experience working as an elementary school teacher.

Yanira “Yani” Fleitas

RECEPTIONIST

Mrs. Yani is a native of Miami and graduated from North Miami Senior High School. She obtained her medical office management certificate and worked in the medical field for a number of years before accepting a position in a public school as administrative assistant. Mrs. Yani joined Allison Academy in 2017, and works in the main office as our receptionist.

Mrs. Yani is married and has one adult son and one grandson.

Thomas Gilfoy

FACULTY

Mr. Gilfoy grew up in North Miami Beach, and attended the Honor’s program at Miami-Dade College. He later transferred to Warren Wilson College in Ashville, North Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies with specialties in Conservation and Wildlife Biology. Mr. Gilfoy joined the Allison Academy staff in 2004. He is an avid supporter of several environmental science projects in the area including managing the Oleta River State Park location for the Urban Paradise Guild which eliminates invasive non-native vegetation from Oleta River State Park. Mr. Gilfoy is also our faculty leader for the Fairchild Challenge, which is sponsored by Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Crystal Hawthorne

FACULTY

Ms. Hawthorne is Allison Academy’s reading specialist. She received her Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of Florida, her Masters of Education with a specialization in reading from the University of Southern Mississippi, and her Specialist is Education, with a specialization in reading from the University of Florida.

Ms. Hawthorne first joined the Allison Academy staff in 1989. She moved out of the area for a period of years and retuned in 2008.

Janet Horowitz

FACULTY

Mrs. Horowitz has an Associate’s Degree in early childhood, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary and she teaches middle school education. Prior to joining Allison Academy in 2017, she taught at the Museum of Science, and the Children’s Museum, as well as other private schools in South Florida for 30 years. At Allison Academy Mrs. Horowitz teaches middle school math, English, reading, and history. She also teaches chorus and drama for middle and high school, and is the choral director.

Mrs. Horowitz is married and lives with her husband Adam and two children, Nina and Daniel. She is also a professional singer and performs regularly in area venues.

Anthony Johnson

FACULTY

Mr. Johnson attended Florida Memorial College and earned his A.S. in general studies, then attended Johnson and Wales University from 1999-2003 for his B. A. in Business Management. He was a college basketball national championship winner in June 2003. Coach Johnson was a two-time boys’ basketball state championship coach during 2013-2015 at American Preparatory Academy. At Allison Academy Coach Johnson is a proactive educator who teaches physical education for all grade levels, as well as math in high school.

Coach Johnson is family and goal oriented and has one daughter in high school.

Nicholas Kaiser

FACULTY/ FACILITIES MANAGER

Mr. Kaiser grew up in the North Miami Beach and attended local schools. He worked at several businesses before joining Allison Academy in 2002.

Coach Nich also oversees the girls volleyball team, is an assistant coach for the boys basketball team, and he does a wonderful job managing the schools facilities.

Carolyn Longstreet

FACULTY/ ACCOUNTING

Ms. Longstreet grew up in North Miami Beach and is Allison Academy’s technology specialist. Graduating from North Miami Beach High School she became a certified EMT and paramedic graduate in 1985. Deciding to make a career change to business, Ms. Longstreet began working in accounting, office, operations and Business management and was President of a medical software company before opening her own software/hardware business in 2013.

A former tutoring student of Allison Academy, she returned to college in 1997, and earned her Associates degree from Broward Community College graduating with honors. After graduating from Broward, Ms. Longstreet attended Florida Atlantic University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. She is an advocate for victims rights and has her Victims Services Practitioners Designation from the State of Florida. Ms. Longstreet has been Allison Academy’s technology specialist for over fifteen years where she teaches Robotics/Coding and works in accounting.

Nicolette Milner

FACULTY

Mrs. Milner is a native of North Miami Beach and graduated from Allison Academy as Valedictorian. She attended the Honors College at Miami-Dade College where she was an Environmental Fellow at the Environmental Fellow at the Environmental Ethics Institute, was honored on the Dean’s List, and received multiple Service Learning Awards. She graduated with “Highest Honors and Distinction” with an Associates Degree in Exceptional Student Education. She then went to Florida International University where she received the Sanford and Dolores Ziff and Family Scholarship. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is certified and endorsed in ESOL and has a minor in Environmental Education. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Mrs. Milner joined our faculty in 2011.

Walter Milner

FACULTY

Mr. Milner grew up in North Miami Beach. He received his B.S. from Florida International University in Journalism with a minor in English. He received his M.S., also from FIU, in Comparative Religion.

Mr. Milner joined Allison Academy in 2006. He teaches history, music, speech and debate, and is the developer and director of the Allison Academy rock/jazz band.

Mr. Milner graduated magna cum laude for Undergrad degree with a major in journalism, and a minor in English. He graduated summa cum laude for his Master’s Degree, and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa and Phi Theta Kappa.

Amy Robayo

OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR​

Ms. Robayo received her Associate of Arts degree from Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, and then attended Auburn University in Alabama and Florida International University.

She studied business, accounting, and photography, and works in the school office managing day to day business activities. She joined Allison Academy in 1998.

Jorge Vargas

FACULTY

Mr. Vargas, a native of Miami, began working with children at the age of 19. He was a member of the civil service organization, Americorp. With the help of Americorp, he founded a non-profit after school tutoring program for kids in the West Hialeah community. The program still exists today. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from Barry University where he graduated in 2000, and went on to earn his M.S. in Psychology from Barry in 2002.

Mr. Vargas is a lifetime member of Psi Chi, the National HonorSociety in Psychology. Mr. Vargas became a member of the Allison Academy faculty in 2002 and has taught psychology, social studies, peer counseling, and is the senior sponsor, yearbook, newspaper, and prom committee advisor.