Faculty and Staff
Tracy received her BS degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies from The Ohio State University. She was a Lead Teacher at the JCC in Fairfax, VA , Sunrise,FL and Tampa. She has worked with ages Pre 2”s to Pre K. She has been at Hillel”s Preschool since 2009.
Lead Teacher, Early Learning Center
Motivated by the inquisitive and kind nature of her students, Elizabeth strives to touch her students’ lives by personally connecting with each child; helping him or her grow socially and academically as they transition from primary to intermediate learning. Elizabeth grew up and attended college in Upstate New York, graduating from SUNY Oswego. Immediately upon graduation, she moved to the Tampa area in search of sunshine and a job! She started her career teaching preschool in 1998, then teaching third grade at Hillel in 2002. She was fortunate to have some time at home when her daughter was born in 2005. Elizabeth found herself ready to return to teaching part time in 2009, and was happy to rejoin her Hillel family with two children in tow in 2012.
Lead Teacher, Early Learning Center
Elementary Division Director and Kindergarten Teacher
Middle School Social Studies
Burl Peters grew up in the Tampa area, moving to Lutz when he was in 3rd grade. He is a proud alumnus of both Gaither High School and University of South Florida (with his degree in History). He now lives in Spring Hill, Florida with his wife Ann and their house full of pets. Mr. Peters is in his 18th year of teaching. He spent the first 14 years as 5th grade and middle school math teacher at Hillel. After leaving Hillel for a charter school, he returned to Hillel to pursue teaching his passion: Social Studies. In his time away from school, Mr. Peters enjoys doing DIY projects and volunteering at his local animal shelter.
Aide, Early Learning Center
3rd Grade Teacher
Anne grew up in a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania where she graduated from Edinboro University of PA with her Bachelors in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. Shortly after graduating, she moved to Tampa with her husband and was fortunate enough to be offered her first teaching job in Hillsborough County. Anne has taught at both public and charter schools in grades Kindergarten and 1st. Now entering her ninth year of teaching, she is excited to have joined the Hillel family as the 3rd grade teacher.
1st Grade Teacher
Monique is originally from New York City, where she earned her bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University - Stern College for Women and her M.S. Ed in Special Education and Elementary Education from The College of Staten Island. She began her career teaching kindergarten and first grade students at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, New York and then went on to become a special education teacher in the NYC public schools system, where she developed her talent for differentiated instruction. After moving to Florida and before having her children, Emet and Sima, Monique also taught Judaic Studies at the Pinellas Jewish Day School.
When Monique’s first child, Emet, was born, she chose to stay home with him and a few short years later, she and her husband, Ethan, welcomed their daughter Sima. Emet and Sima both attend Hillel Academy. Monique was an extremely involved parent and was often found at school volunteering and helping in any way that she could, so when the opportunity to teach at Hillel arose she jumped to become a part of the team!
2nd Grade Teacher
Rebecca received her degree in elementary education in August of 1999 from USF. She began her teaching career in 1999 at Clair-Mel elementary, where she taught first and third grades until 2001. In August of 2001 she joined the Hillel family and taught fourth grade, welcomed her first child, and then returned to Hillel August 2003. Rebecca has taught grades first through fourth and 5th and 6th grade math classes. She was also librarian for two years. Hillel is her second home and she loves spending her days here!
4th Grade Teacher
Lisa grew up in New Jersey with her loving parents, Marilyn and Alan Daniels, and her two older brothers and younger sister. After graduating from Montclair State College, she moved to Florida to be closer to all her family members that had moved to the Sunshine State. Although Lisa began in the Retail Merchandising field, she quickly realized her love was in teaching and decided to join University of Florida and their incredible teaching program. Lisa began her teaching career in the Winter of 1991 in Dade City as a first Grade teacher. That spring she was hired by Hillsborough County to teach at Broward Elementary and remained there until 2006 when she joined the Hillel Family. While at Broward Elementary, she taught 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th as well as served as the Media Specialist after receiving her Masters Degree in Library Information Sciences. In 2003, she married Larry Caine and David was born in 2005 prompting her to rethink her teaching options. She interviewed at Hillel and felt the love and care each teacher and staff member has for the children as well as the values being instilled, she knew this was the place her family needed to be. In 2006, she joined the Hillel family as one of the First Grade teachers. In 2016, she created and implement the Intermediate Science Curriculum for grades 2 - 5.
Lisa believes in each child and their abilities to grow and excel each day. Each child brings a special light and unique ability to the class and to our school. She helps each child grow to be be capable, independent learners that are in charge of their own learning through readers, writers and math workshops, cooperative activities and inquiry. Students strive to achieve their personal best and measure their achievements by their own growth and the growth of the class as a whole. We praise each other, understand that growth comes from learning from our mistakes and build upon our strengths helping each to achieve his/her personal goals and set new ones as we learn together throughout the year.
"Who is wise? One who learns from everyone" Pirkei Avot 4:1
Rabbi Marc Blatt was born on Long Island, NY and grew up in Orlando, Florida. Ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Blatt has been an educator for almost his entire life. Rabbi Blatt has worked in numerous religious schools in Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, and Baltimore, spent 9 summers at Camp Ramah Darom, California, and Poconos, and spent 3 years teaching Jewish Texts at Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. He loves teaching his students about the wonder and beauty of Judaism, preparing them to become the next generation of Jewish leaders. He is a total Comic Book movie geek, as well as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Star Trek. He loves trivia, playing retro (Nintendo and Sega) video games, and camping in the great outdoors. He is married to Rabbi Rachel Blatt and proud abba (father) to Hannah, Tova, and Rafi.
Idit Hacham grew up in a small town in Israel. Both of her parents are educators, her sister is an accountant and her younger brother is studying computer engineering. In 2003, she joined the IDF as a Non-commissioned Officer of Education in the Israeli Navy. During her service, Idit developed curriculum regarding Israeli society, culture and geography and led combat soldiers through their educational classes, community volunteering, field trips and more. In 2006, she was chosen by the Jewish Agency as Israeli cultural guide for a summer camp in New Jersey. Later on, Idit pursued her dream to be a teacher and studied in Oranim College in Israel. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor in Education General Teaching and Biology Science for Elementary School. During her studies she was also elected to be the president of the Student government. After graduating in 2011, Idit was fortunate to be selected again by the Jewish Agency for an international fellowship position as the Israel Fellow for the USF and University of Tampa Hillels. During the time she lived in Tampa and while being involved in the Jewish community, Idit met her husband Jay and today they have son name Ron. Idit continued her career in education, working as the Youth Program Coordinator at the JCC and as a Hebrew teacher at Kol Ami. She joined Hillel Academy in 2017 and is excited to continue her journey with the Jewish community here in Tampa.
Hebrew and Judaics
Hebrew and Judaics
Sylvia was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. She attended Jewish day school from preschool to 12th grade as well as Jewish seminary for Hebrew and Judaic studies. She then spent 2 years in Strasbourg France and one year in Israel studying Hebrew and Tanach. Sylvia taught in Morocco before she got married and moved to the USA 27 years ago. She speaks, reads and writes French (first language) Hebrew and English and speaks Arabic fluently. She is married and has 2 sons - David and Marc who are proud Hillel graduates! She started working at Hillel in January 1998.
Naomi grew up in Curacao and speaks 4 languages (dutch, spanish, papiamento, and english). She studied international business and marketing at Florida International University. She coached girls sports at Hillel for 4 years before becoming an official staff member in 2018. She is also the Middle School division director and our Spanish Teacher. She has been a part of the Hillel community for 11 years, and has 4 children - two Hillel graduates, and 2 current students!
Middle school Language Arts Teacher
I received her BA in English with a collateral program in secondary education from Kean University in New Jersey. She started her career teaching high school English in Newark, New Jersey. She located to Tampa, Florida, in 1985. After taking time off to raise a family, she returned back to teaching and was fortunate to be employed by Hillel in 2002.
Middle School Division Director and Science Teacher
Mrs. Basham is a lifelong learner with a true passion for science, mathematics, and education. She works hard to bring fun, creativity, and academic rigor to her classroom each day, and is constantly developing new methods to do so. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences, with focused studies in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Genetics, and Mathematics. She also holds a Master’s degree in Science Curriculum and Instruction, with additional emphasis in Informal Science for Environmental Education. She has continued to pursue advanced graduate studies in the field of science education, with a particular interest in curriculum development, teacher mentorship, project-based learning, and methods for the reduction of science and math anxiety in teachers. Her thirst for learning is never extinguished, and she works hard to inspire a similar love and excitement for learning in her students.
Mrs. Basham is entering her 17th year as a science and math educator, with almost 14 of those years spent as a proud member of the Hillel Academy family. Her positions with Hillel Academy have included middle school science teacher, school science fair director, hydroponic and container garden manager, middle school math teacher, and middle division director. In addition to teaching in the formal environment, Mrs. Basham has been a private tutor for 18 years, developed science and math curricula for numerous summer programs, and evaluated private schools for the Florida Council of Independent Schools. Throughout the years, she has taught students from Pre-K through college seniors, but admits to having a passion for middle school.
Above all, Mrs. Basham’s most important role is as the proud mother of two children who attend Hillel Academy. She enjoys spending her down time traveling, cooking, baking, exercising, reading, shopping, entertaining, and generally enjoying life with her children and husband of 16 years, who is a salon owner in Carrollwood. Since 2004, Mrs. Basham’s philosophy has been that “the important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” This quote, originally penned by Sir William Bragg, is the perfect expression of Mrs. Basham’s approach to life and teaching. She truly believes that you should never let a day pass without attempting to learn something new, consider a new perspective, or dig just a bit deeper into your understanding of the world around you.
Debra Campbell, grew up in Philadelphia and holds a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. She majored in Psychology and minored in Fine Art and Asian Studies. After working in Yokohama, Japan with the Early Development Association, she came back to the States to complete her Masters in Art Therapy. Debra took a career detour after her time in Japan landed her a position with the industrial development corporation of Philadelphia and later as the Asia Department Division Head with the Philadelphia Commerce Department. Here she was in charge of stimulating international trade between companies in Philadelphia and Asia. Debra moved to Tampa in 1999 with her family. Her son Eric graduated Hillel and in 2004 she began teaching art at Hillel. As an adjunct teacher in the USF School of Art, she is happy to bring USF interns to Hillel to train in art education. Debra also started a non-profit, Forward Thinking Initiatives, whose mission is to teach entrepreneurship and innovation to teens throughout Tampa Bay. Debra’s passions are teaching at Hillel, creating her own art, reading, dancing and creating great memories with her family and friends.
Grant Slater has spent over twenty years in the sport and education industries building a reputation as an athlete, coach and a sports administrator.
His accomplishments include training athletes at the youth, collegiate and professional levels of sport, twice producing one of the largest youth sports tournaments in the United States, serving as the hosting Commissioner for USA Hockey’s Junior A National Championship, co-authoring Junior Elite Hockey’s risk management plan with Gagliardi Insurance, and developing a dynamic all inclusive sports program for Hillel Academy.
He holds a BA (Education) from Colgate University, a M.Ed (Specialization in International Sports Management and Coaching Strategies) from Lesley University and a Certificate in Professional Fitness Training from the University of South Florida.
1st Grade Teacher
Kari was born and raised in Bel Air, Maryland before attending the University of South Florida in Tampa. She graduated from USF in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an ESOL endorsement. She recently got her Reading endorsement as well. Kari spent 10 months teaching English in Israel, returning to Tampa in July 2014. Once returning to Tampa, she began teaching first grade at a charter school. This is her 8th year teaching first grade and she is excited to have joined the Hillel family.
Scott lived in Cleveland, Ohio, until moving to Florida in 2016. He began working in Jewish Music in 1976 as a cantorial accompanist on the piano and organ. Scott directed professional, adult volunteer, and youth choirs for High Holy Day, Festival, and Shabbat services; taught religious school music classes, and prepared students for concerts, holiday celebrations, Consecration, and Confirmation for conservative congregations in Cleveland. Here in Tampa, he accompanies High Holy Day Services at Congregation Beth Am.
After moving to Tampa Bay and retiring from the business world, Scott obtained licensure as a Music Teacher and spent two years teaching elementary music in a charter school. He is excited about combining his love of Jewish Music with teaching and helping Hillel students develop a lifetime interest in Music.
Scott and his wife are the proud parents of two adult children and share their home with two cats. Teaching is a popular profession in the family, Scott’s wife teaches Kindergarten in Tampa, and their daughter teaches Special Education in Orlando.
Lydia has been a part of the Hillel community as a parent first and joined the team as the School Counselor in 2015. Lydia loves to bring her knowledge of working with children and parents, individuals with special needs, therapy, mindfulness and more to her work at Hillel. Lydia grew up in the Tampa Bay Area, obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree from USF in 1996, her Master of Social Work degree from Florida International University in 2000, and her LCSW (License in Clinical Social Work) in 2002. She loves being a parent to her two children (one a recent graduate of Hillel Academy) and her children love being students at Hillel! Lydia has experience in the areas of working with individuals with special needs, assisting parents of children with special needs, women’s issues, domestic violence, working with individuals with HIV/AIDS, as an advocate for adults with disabilities, and provided therapy and worked as the Clinical Director for Tampa Jewish Family Services for many years. In addition to her part-time work as the School Counselor for Hillel, Lydia also provides therapy for a local private practice (ProTherapyPlus), specializing in grief, depression, anxiety, parenting, couples/family therapy, and more. Lydia is an active member of Congregation Kol Ami. She loves to read, go for walks, and relax with her family and friends.
Keri is originally from CT, and received her Bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University in PA. She then went on to attend Columbia University in NYC where she obtained her Masters of Science in Social Work. She worked for many years in NYC until meeting her husband and having her daughter, Sadie. They then moved to Durham, NC where they had their son Avi. Keri worked as a hospital social worker for many years, and then moved on to working at a Jewish day school in Durham. What began as an admissions role quickly flourished into managing the school’s social media platforms and website, and also branched into both communications and development work. Keri is thrilled to now be in Tampa at Hillel as the Advancement Director, which encompasses admissions, development, and marketing. Both of her children are happy Hillel students!
Principal of Teaching and Learning
Sara Fisch grew up in Watertown, a small town in Upstate New York. She comes from a family strongly rooted in education. Her mother Jill is a retired fifth grade teacher and both her father Tim and sister Melissa are Child Psychologists. In 2001 Sara earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the State University of Cortland. She began her teaching career at PS 108, located in Spanish Harlem.
Sara was fortunate during her early years of teaching to work under Shelley Harwayne at the New York City Board of Education. This was where her strong love for teaching reading and writing began. As a highly qualified educator Sara was accepted into the Teachers of Tomorrow program and worked to complete her Master’s Degree in Literacy Education at CUNY Hunter College. Looking for a shorter commute and warmer winters Sara relocated to Tampa in 2005. She taught kindergarten and first grades at Lawton Chiles Elementary. At Chiles Sara also served as the Team Leader in First Grade, a member of the school Steering Committee, and was a Mentor Teacher to final interns from USF and St. Leo University.
Sara’s love for Hillel began when she enrolled her daughter Samantha in 2014. She jumped into the Hillel family with both feet, involved as both a parent and the school Reading Specialist. Sara, her husband Murray, as well as their three children Ethan, Talia and Samantha are actively involved in the Tampa Jewish Community.
Director of Student Services / IT Director
Michael Gamson began his post college professional career as a social worker at Florida’s busiest domestic violence shelter. Although his degree is in special education, he quickly adapted his skill set to provide services to some of the most vulnerable young people in the county. He stayed with the she shelter organization for over 7 years and helped found the children’s program which is still active today.
As he and his children's services team developed innovative therapy techniques for child witnesses to domestic violence, Michael continued to explore ways to enhance therapies and education through the use of technology.
For the past 17 years Michael has served as the IT Director at the Hillel School of Tampa. His philosophy is to discontinue the old educational technology designs where computers exist in the vacuum of a computer lab in favor of total classroom integration of technology. His design goal is for technology to be as ubiquitous and unobtrusive as a common pencil in every classroom.
Michael specializes in optimizing schools to leverage the use of web 2.0 resources. By utilizing open source, crowdsourcing, and cloud based services, Michael helps schools maintain maximum return regardless of their technology budget.
Attended college at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College and obtained his degree in Psychology in 3 years, then returned and obtained his degree in Communications in 2 more. Using both degrees, he entered the sales field out of college, eventually landing in the Title Insurance industry in Ohio. Noticing a lack of good title services in the area and the inflated costs, Bill started his own agency in 1999, Expedient Title, which became one of the top title insurance agencies in Central Ohio within three years. In 2011, Bill took a buyout offer from the agency.
Following this Bill became the Director of Operations for a firm out of Chicago. He worked this hi-paced job for a number of years, but realized he wanted more control over his future after sales fell short there and the business was forced to close. Determined to find the correct job, where he could do more to help people on a daily basis, Bill located the job availability at Hillel and thought it would be a great fit. After the interview and getting to meet the other administrative staff, he knew he was right. He was offered the position and has been Director of Operations and Business for Hillel ever since.
Head of School
Allison grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she attended the Broad Street YMWHA for nursery school; Solomon Schechter Day School - Stern Center for elementary school; and Akiba Hebrew Academy for middle and part of high school until her parents retired to Boca Raton, Florida. She received her bachelor's and Master's degrees in elementary education with a specialization in middle grade science at the University of Florida and while teaching, studied at Florida International University and then received her certification in education leadership and administration. Allison has served communities in South Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and now Tampa. Allison's most important job, though, is being a mom to her three children, all students at Hillel Academy.
Front Office Manager and Advancement Associate
Development & Camp Director
Julie is originally from the NY & DC areas and moved to Orlando to attend UCF. While at UCF Julie was very active in Central Florida Hillel which opened many doors within the Orlando Jewish Community. After graduating with a degree in Liberal Studies focusing on Jewish Communal Service and Non-Profit Management she went on to work for multiple agencies in Orlando including the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center, serving as their Youth, Camp, and Events Director for 9 years. After getting married to her husband, Christopher, Julie became the Program Director at the Congregation of Reform Judaism for a short while before starting her own Event and Consulting firm, Julbilation Events, focused on Jewish life cycle events and fundraising. In 2020, Julie and her family moved to Tampa and quickly fell in love with Hillel! All three of her children attend the school, two of which are in the brand new Forman Early Learning Center. Julie is thrilled to bring the FABULOUS world of Jewish camping to Hillel as well as the all-new afterschool Enrichment Academy! With her experience in the event and fundraising world, Julie is looking forward to all the new possibilities in store for Hillel's future.