Our Faculty


Principal

Robert Wright

Robertrobert Wright moved to Key West in July of 2013. He is married to Jessica (Jones) Wright, a sixth generation conch and an Alumna of Mary Immaculate School. Mr. Wright has four children, two who currently attend The Basilica School. Before moving to Key West, Mr. Wright was a teacher, coach and administrator at John Paul II Catholic High School in Tallahassee, Florida. Mr. Wright also served as the High School Youth Director and Confirmation coordinator at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. Mr. Wright earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University in Social Science Education. In 2012, he completed his graduate studies at the University of Dayton, earning a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration. Mr. Wright believes in educating the whole person – spirit, mind and body – in the tradition of the Catholic Church.

Email: principal@basilicaschool.com

 

Registrar
Megan Jensen 

jensenBorn and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Megan Jensen joined the Basilica School faculty in the spring of 2015. A graduate from Jacksonville University with a B.S. in Geography, Megan is currently working on obtaining a Florida Educator’s Certification.  In her free time, Megan enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Darren and our lovable Labrador Trusty.  She has embraced the Keys’ lifestyle and looks forward to serving the needs of the students and families here at The Basilica School.

Email: jensen@basilicaschool.com 

 

Bookkeeper
Kendi O’Neill

Kendi O’Neill and her family started attending Mass at Saint Mary Star of the Sea on vacations to Key West before moving to the island. “This church is one of the reasons we decided to move here full time, and transferring our two daughters to The Basilica School was life-changing. They are both thriving. I am blessed to be part of this wonderful community.”

Email: bookkeeper@basilicaschool.com

 

8th Grade
Carolina DuPont

dupontMrs. DuPont has been with us at the Basilica School since 2012. She holds a dual degree in English and Spanish from the University of Florida and is very excited to be teaching Middle School Language Arts and Spanish this year. She has three children whom all attend the Basilica School. In her free time Mrs. DuPont might be found paddle boarding through the Keys or standing on her head.

Email: dupont@basilicaschool.com

 

 7th Grade
 Andrea Zyvith

zyvithMrs. Zyvith grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She attended Penn State University where she received a degree in Education.  After graduating from PSU, Mrs. Zyvith moved to New York City where she worked as a teacher in Brooklyn, NY for five years before leaving the big city to join her husband, a Navy pilot.  The Navy led them to Virginia Beach, where Mrs. Zyvith spent the next 2 years teaching at a private school.  Following Virginia Beach, they were lucky enough to be stationed in Key West!
Mrs. Zyvith was so excited to join our staff in the summer of 2015.  She is currently teaching Middle School Math and Science classes, and strives to help all of her students develop their own love for math and science in fun and creative ways.

Email : zyvith@basilicaschool.com

 

6th Grade / Assistant Principal
Eileen Dolan-Heitlinger

edhA native New Yorker and a product of parochial schools, Ms. D-H received a BA Magna cum Laude in music history and piano from the Crane School of Music, State University of New York/ Potsdam and a Master of Library Science degree from SUNY/Geneseo. She was a reference librarian for over 30 years and holds Florida teaching certificates for middle grades English, Social Science and Media Specialist.

At the Basilica School Ms. D-H has taught middle grades social studies and language arts. She is currently the school librarian and music teacher, also assisting in school administration. Ms. D-H enjoys being a member of a this vibrant parish and feels blessed to be a part of The Basilica School where parents and teachers can collaborate to meet the needs and potential of each aspiring “saint of God.”

Email: edh@basilicaschool.com

 

5th Grade
Allison Hunter

Allison Hunter was born in Orlando, Florida. She graduated from The Florida State  University with a degree in Child Development and is a certified elementary teacher for  grades K-6.

Mrs. Hunter taught PreK-3 at Mary Immaculate from 2008 until 2010. She then moved to Naples, Florida where she taught PreK-3 for two years at Saint Elizabeth Seton Catholic School. Fortunately for Key West and the Basilica School, in 2012 she found her way back to Key West and The Basilica School teaching PreK-4.

As a teacher Mrs. Hunter is devoted to creating a safe, positive, and stimulating environment in which students can grow both academically and spiritually.

Email: hunter@basilicaschool.com

 

4th Grade
Beth Kilroe

kilroeMrs. Kilroe has been teaching at Mary Immaculate/The Basilica School of St. Mary Star of the Sea for 23 years.  She taught 3rd grade for six years and has 4th grade for the past seventeen years.

Mrs. Kilroe was born in Boston, MA and lived there until she moved with her family to Maine.  She graduated from Freeport High School and then she attended the University of Maine at Orono, receiving a BA in political science/international affairs.  After years in the cool and rainy climates of New England, Ms. Kilroe moved to Key West in search of sun.

Mrs. Kilroe continued her studies at Nova University, Florida International University, Florida Keys Community College and the University of Maine on a graduate level to meet the state of Florida requirements to become a teacher.  Mrs. Kilroe is currently certified in K – 6th Grade Elementary and 6 – 12 Social Studies in the State of Florida.

Her mission for her 4th grade students is to develop and guide each student to become a successful learner and a child of faith.

Email: kilroe@basilicaschool.com

4th Grade
Andrea Cacciola

cacciolaBorn and raised in Staten Island, New York, Mrs. Cacciola attended Catholic grammar and high school, and obtained her bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from the College of Staten Island. She and her family were and are active members of St. Christopher’s parish.  Mrs. Cacciola taught religious education for over ten years and is Vice-President and Events Coordinator for the Alumni Committee.  Ironically, it was through that committee that she met her Coast Guard husband, an unanticipated blessing from her volunteer work!  Given her enthusiasm for Catholic education, it was not surprising that Mrs. Cacciola became a teacher Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Staten Island.  She taught there for four years, striving to instill in her students the same values that she gained from her teachers, including service and volunteerism.  She now finds herself on another island, at another school named for Our Lady Star of the Sea.  Mrs. Cacciola is pleased and grateful to be sharing her talents and Catholic values with the students of The Basilica School of Saint Mary Star of the Sea on the sunny island of Key West.

Email: cacciola@basilicaschool.com

3rd Grade
Feliz Andrews

andrewsMrs. Andrews was born and raised in Amarillo, TX. Right after high school, she joined the Army, where she met her husband, and began an adventure that has taken them and their two sons all over the globe. They moved to Key West from the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer of 2015 and are loving life near the warm water!

Mrs. Andrews graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in English and Education. Before moving to Key West, she was a substitute teacher for 2 years in California. This is Mrs. Andrews’ first year with a classroom of her own.

Mrs. Andrews is thrilled to be part of The Basilica School as a teacher and as a parent; both of her sons are attending TBS. She is excited to impart her own passion for learning and on to her students in a fun and caring environment

Email: andrews@basilicaschool.com

2nd Grade 
Danielle Gould

gouldMs. Gould has been teaching at The Basilica School of Saint Mary Star of the Sea since 2000.  She graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in Psychology.  She has graduate level course work in education.

Ms. Gould is the advisor and founder of Green Team, the school’s environmental club.  Her personal philosophy is to positively engage the children and help them develop a lifelong love for learning.

Email: gould@basilicaschool.com

2nd Grade
Maureen Wales

walesTeaching first grade at The Basilica School is one of the greatest blessings God has given to me. After having had a diverse career in education – from serving as an elementary grades teacher to becoming an educational consultant and then senior executive with educational publishing companies where I participated in the creation and development of K-6 reading/language arts and mathematics curriculum materials – my life work has always revolved around children and how they learn. As an educator, mother, and grandmother, I endeavor to bring those life experiences into the daily learning and interactive social community I create for the children in my class. Working in partnership with the Basilica staff, parents, and caregivers, I strive to help develop and form a whole child – mind, body, spirit – in a joyful and positive Christ-centered learning environment.

Email: wales@basilicaschool.com

1st Grade
Monica Allen

allenMrs. Allen is a fifth generation native of Key West.  She is a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Early Childhood Development and Psychology.  Mrs. Allen has since completed college course work in early education and holds a degree for ages 3 through 3rd grade.

Mrs. Allen focuses on the well-rounded fundamentals of elementary education with emphasis on reading and writing skills.  A dedicated supporter of The Basilica School, Mrs. Allen volunteers for many activities to promote student excellence and to raise funds for the school.  She is Co-Chair of the school yearbook committee, has served on the school’s Board of Management, and is on the Mariners March 5K Run committee.

Mrs. Allen resides in Key West with her husband and two sons, who attend The Basilica School.  She and her family are active members of the Key West Community and parish.

Mrs. Allen embraces the teaching philosophy to instill a love of learning and reading in her students.  She strives to engage her students to maximize their educational experience while offering a classroom environment which is safe, stimulating and enjoyable.

Email: allen@basilicaschool.com

 

Kindergarten
Laura Kennington

kenningtonMrs. Kennington graduated from Troy University in December 2014 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Kennington and her husband were transferred to Key West by the US Coast Guard from Destin, Florida but are originally from Ozark, Alabama. On the weekends she enjoys spending time with her husband and dog on their boat or exploring the island.

 

Email: kennington@basilicaschool.com

Kindergarten
Christine Oien

oienMrs. Oien is originally from Minnesota.  She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a focus on Language Arts from The College of St. Scholastica.  After graduation she worked as the children and youth director at a local church.  She and her husband moved to Wellington, Fl in 2010 where  she found another church to serve as the youth director.  They moved to the Keys in 2014 and Christine began teaching at St. Mary’s.  She is very grateful to be working at such an amazing school and cannot wait to begin teaching kindergarten this fall!

Email: Oien@basilicaschool.com

PK-4
Sidney Jones

jonesMs. Jones received her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of North Florida.     She teaches Kindergarten and also serves as Co-Chair of the school yearbook committee.        Ms. Jones is certified in primary education and has taught Kindergarten for 25 years.  She is  a member of the National Catholic Educator Association.

Ms. Jones is married to Tim Jones.  They are the proud parents of three children who all attended Mary Immaculate Star of the Sea School, Key West High School, and subsequently graduated from Florida State University.  The Joneses are active members of the parish.  Mr. Jones is a member of the Knights of Columbus and together they serve on the Hospitality Committee.

Email: jones@basilicaschool.com

PK-3
Maria Thompson

thompsonMaria and her husband moved to Key West at the end of October 2013, she has been working at the Basilica School since January of 2014 where she teaches     Pre-K3.  Maria attended college in the U.K. and gained her degree in Business and Finance. She then worked  in HR for over 10 years. Upon moving to the U.S. she gained her CDA in child development for teaching Pre-K3 & 4.  She worked for 8 years as a lead teacher in a  Catholic school in New Jersey prior to moving to Key West.

Email: thompson@basilicaschool.com

 

Physical Education
Jennifer Noah

Email: noah@basilicaschool.com

 

Spanish, Math
Dana Balmaceda

balmacedaMs. Balmaceda graduated from Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague with a M.S. in Information Technology and a minor in System Analysis. Ms. Balmaceda taught high school math in Prague during her doctoral studies. “I truly love teaching and am honored to be a part of this amazing parish, school, and faculty. The best reward of teaching for me is the opportunity to nourish the children constantly with love, respect and to impart on them the principles that will allow them to live fully and grow academically.”

Email: balmaceda@basilicaschool.com

 

nancy_lareArt
Nancy LaRe

Nancy has a degree and graduate studies in Psychology, but used every elective to pursue her love of Art. After serving an internship in a school for autistic children in New Jersey, she went on to become an Art and Activities Director for several Mental Health facilities, including ARC, Ancora Psychiatric Hospital, and area nursing homes, incorporating both her counseling and Art therapy training.
After moving to Key West, Nancy attended “Tocci School of Art”, and helped found the original “Bahama School of Art”. During this time, Nancy was also the Editor and Senior writer of two Art publications: “Island Images” and “The Cultural Preservation Society Souvenir Program”.

She also teaches Art & Art History at the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center.  She is an active volunteer for “Keys Kids” theater group and the Key West Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the Art and Historical Society. Nancy has been a member of the M.I.S.S. family since 1998 and has a son, Evan who graduated M.I.S.S. in 2007.

Email: NLaRe23@gmail.com

Guidance
Joanna Morris

morrisMrs. Morris is a graduate of Kansas State University and has been teaching in the Florida Keys for the last five years. She is excited to step into the role as Guidance Counselor. Mrs. Morris believes that each person is made in the image and likeness of God and she will serve to foster ownership of each individual’s faith. Mrs. Morris has one daughter attending the Basilica School and is thrilled to have the faith formation combined with a strong academic program and numerous extracurricular activities. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and son while in the Florida Keys and spending time with her large extended family on vacations and holidays.

Email: morris@basilicaschool.com

Email: guidance@basilicaschool.com

 

Sister Mary Silvester Mushi, OSS

sister-3Sr. Mary was born in Tanzania East Africa.  She went to college in Rauya Theological Pastoral Center.  Following her education Sister taught  religion in Kenya for 4 years.  She subsequently joined the faculty of the Basilica school where she enjoys teaching the children religion.  Sister is also involved in many other parish ministries, including visiting the sick and serving the needy at the the Soup Kitchen.

 

Sister Marietha Kimaro, OSS

sister-2Sr. Marietha Joseph Kimaro is a Holy Spirit Sister, a religious order from Tanzania, East Africa. Sister is the second child in a family of six children. Her parents, Joseph and Fausta, were blessed with three boys and three girls.

Sister attended Catholic elementary school from Pre-K through grade 7 in the Diocese of Moshi-Kilimanjaro. Sister attended Catholic college where her course work included Church History, morality, Canon Law, spirituality, Scripture and Bible knowledge, philosophy, lives of the saints, Mariology, teaching methodology & catechesis, and Catholic dogma. She joined the community of the Holy Spirit Sisters, Opus Spiritus Santi, in 1995 and became a full member in 1999. In keeping with the missionary work of her order, Sister had five years of training in order to serve the as an OSS missionary. Her teaching assignments have included teaching religion at elementary and high schools.

Sister Marietha celebrated her final dedication in June 2008. A month later, the community chose her to travel to America to join the The Basilica parish. Sister says, “It is my pleasure to be among the Key West community, especially our school. I will always be happy to serve them, because that is what I came for.”