Our Faculty

Stay tuned. We are currently updating this page for the 2022-2023 school year.

Administration

Robert Wright

Robert Wright

Principal

Robert 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 six children, three 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

Megan Wise

Megan Wise

Director of Guidance

Mrs. Megan Wise has been teaching for 12 years in the Florida Keys. After graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Mrs. Wise attended the University of Florida and earned a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. In addition to being an alumna of both FSU and UF, Mrs. Wise is an alumna of Mary Immaculate where she attended through 8th grade.

In her spare time, Mrs. Wise enjoys spending time with her husband, Dan, and her two young daughters, Paislee and Ella.  She strives to create a classroom culture which engages students in meaningful learning. The Basilica School holds a special place in her heart, and she looks forward to providing the same positive experience she had at the school with her students.

Email: wise@basilicaschool.com

Joanna Morris

Joanna Morris

Director of Elementary (PS-8)

Mrs. 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: guidance@basilicaschool.com

 

Casey Internicola, BCBA

Casey Internicola, BCBA

Guidance / ESE

Casey Internicola is a Dedicated Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a Master of Education including a certification in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism. She believes that collaboration, individualized programs and adhering to high ethical standards are key elements to providing effective and significant behavioral support. Casey has worked in a variety of educational, clinical, and home settings and is now proud to work with a group of expert professionals who continually strive to support and improve the lives of their students and their families. Originally from Australia, she has lived in Key West since 2014 and enjoys the diversity, sunshine, community and small-town feel the island has to offer. In her spare time, she loves to relax with her family, spend time at the beach and travel with her husband and two young children.

Email: Internicola@basilicaschool.com

Jeanna Garrido

Jeanna Garrido

Registrar

Mrs. Garrido is originally from Key Largo, Florida and moved to Key West in 2016. She is the former Executive Director of the Harry S. Truman Little White House and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation. She worked with the College of the Florida Keys as the Recruiter for a short time in 2016. Before moving to Key West, Mrs. Garrido’s professional experience included serving as the Senior Director of Membership and Philanthropy at the University of Florida Alumni Association. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in recreation, parks and tourism from the University of Florida in 2003. Mrs. Garrido has two children that attend the Basilica School and is married to Javier Garrido.

Specialty Education Staff

Nancy LaRe

Nancy LaRe

Art Therapy / ESE

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: lare@basilicaschool.com

 

Haylee Shomo

Haylee Shomo

Literacy Coach

Haylee Shomo moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Key West in 2019. She received her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from Slippery Rock University. In her free time, Miss Shomo enjoys sports, swimming, and going to the beach. She is extremely excited and feels blessed to be apart of The Basilica School family. Miss Shomo believes in helping all students soar to unlimited possibilities.

Email: shomo@basilicaschool.com

Eileen Dolan-Heitlinger

Eileen Dolan-Heitlinger

Music / Student Enrichment Coordinator

A 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

 

Sidney Jones

Sidney Jones

ESE Specialist

Ms. 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 over 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

 

Sister Mary Silvester, OSS

Sister Mary Silvester, OSS

Religion

Sr. 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.

Helena Shivas

Helena Shivas

Campus Ministry / Religion

Miss Shivas is a recent graduate of Ave Maria University. She graduated with a degree in Communications and minors in Psychology and Marriage & Family Studies. With experience in youth ministry and community building, Miss Shivas is very excited to join The Basilica School community and be a part of growing the joy and liveliness of a young faith-centered community.

Miss Shivas enjoys spending time with her family and friends. A native of the Allegheny Mountains in central Pennsylvania, she loves to hike and explore the outdoors. Since making Florida her home for the past four years, she can always be found by the water, on a run, reading a book or learning to cook with her roommate Miss Coppa.

Email: Shivas@basilicaschool.com

Clark Cascio

Clark Cascio

PE / Athletic Director

Clark Cascio moved to Key West in June of 2022 after having worked as a summer camp counselor for the school from 2017 to 2020. This will be his first year serving as The Basilica School’s Athletic Director. Coach Clark is originally from Tallahassee Florida and attended Florida State University. During his time at Florida State, Clark received his bachelors and masters degrees in Sport Management. While studying to receive his masters, Clark worked closely with Florida State Football as a Player Personnel Student Assistant for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Coach Clark possesses a sincere passion for athletics and is enthusiastic for the opportunity to show children truth and beauty through athletic pursuits.

Email: Cascio@basilicaschool.com

Meredith Gibson

Meredith Gibson

Art & Technology

Mrs. Gibson recently moved to Florida from North Carolina. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University where she received a B.S. in Business Marketing and a B.F.A. in Art Education. She later went on to Eastern Carolina University where she received a Masters in Art Education. She has been teaching visual arts for the past twelve years and believes arts integration is a vital part of students’ overall education.

Mrs. Gibson enjoys spending time with her husband and two children and looks forward to exploring the Florida Keys. 

Email: gibson@basilicaschool.com

 

Mayed Robertson

Mayed Robertson

Middle / High School Spanish

Señora Robertson is originally from Cuba. She relocated to Key West with her husband and 2 boys in March 2013. Both of her boys are graduates of the Basilica School. She received her Bachelor Degree in Law from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic, and later her Masters Degree in International Relations from Troy State University. She has lived and worked in several other Latin American countries such as Honduras, Bolivia and Chile. She has previously taught Spanish for professionals in North Carolina and for Kindergarten to 7th grade in the Basilica School.

She feels blessed to be able to come back to the Basilica School (a school and a Church that have a special place in her heart) to teach Spanish full time. She loves being able to teach Spanish to the students and see them practicing what they learn and is thrilled when they tell her that they have used Spanish outside of school.

In her free time, Señora Robertson enjoys mainly spending time with her family, traveling, and working out so that she can keep up with all her boys.

Email: Robertson@basilicaschool.com

Jennifer Noah

Jennifer Noah

Physical Education

Jennifer Noah ( Coach JJ ) has lived in the lower keys for 15 years. Her life’s direction began with a degree in English from Johnson State College in Vermont — followed by a shift towards Early Childhood Education at Grand Canyon University. She has found her true calling in the merging of two passions, health & children. As an avid runner and YTT 200 certified yoga instructor, she hopes to instill in every student a love and appreciation for their individual health and vitality.

Email: noah@basilicaschool.com

Pre-K Staff

Maria Thompson

Maria Thompson

Preschool 3

Maria 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

 

Marleny Jones

Marleny Jones

Preschool 3

Marleny Jones is originally from Colombia where she grew up with her mother, father and 7 siblings.  After completing her graduate work in marketing, Mrs. Jones worked for as a sales representative in Cali Colombia for 10 years. Mrs. Jones relocated to Key West in 2005. She enjoys spending time with her husband and raising her 3 boys in beautiful Key West. Mrs. Jones joined the Basilica preschool staff in 2016.

Email: mjones@basilicaschool.com

Ariela Johnson

Ariela Johnson

Preschool 4

Ariela Johnson moved to Key West when she was 7 years old from Nicaragua. Mrs. Johnson joined The Basilica School. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her family and going out on the boat. Mrs. Johnson loves watching her students grow in wisdom and joy.

Email: johnson@basilicaschool.com

 

Miriam Gomez

Miriam Gomez

Preschool 3

A native of Key West, Ms. Miriam joined The Basilica School in 2014. She absolutely loves her work in the preschool 3 program. She really enjoys how the younger children fill the classroom with their wonder and awe — as they grow in wisdom through their academic and play experiences.

Email: gomez@basilicaschool.com

Mariely Cardona

Mariely Cardona

Preschool 3/4

Mariely Cardona is excited to teach preschool at The Basilica School. She has worked for the last 8 years in Early Childhood Education and has discovered that her passion for teaching children motivates her everyday. She has completed her nationally recognized Certified Childcare Professional credential through the Childcare Education Institute. Mrs. Mariely had the pleasure and opportunity to be recognized with an Employee Excellence Award for valuable contributions to the families of Wesley House Family Services in 2019. She is dedicated to continuous education through online opportunities as well as courses through the Department of Education of Early Learning Programs. Mrs. Mariely enjoys spending time with her husband and son. She also enjoys fishing, going to the beach, reading, and kayaking in her free time. It is a great blessing for her to be in her second year at The Basilica School!

Email: cardona@basilicaschool.com

Elementary School Staff

Beth Kilore

Beth Kilore

Grade 4

Mrs. 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

Jacelyn Gauron

Jacelyn Gauron

Grade 3

Jacelyn Gauron was born and raised in Ohio and moved to South Carolina to attend Coastal Carolina University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2009 and moved to Key West shortly thereafter. While in Florida, she began a ten year career in social work, specializing in adoptions from foster care. In 2013, she and her husband relocated to New Hampshire, where they grew their family and started their deep-sea fishing business. After eight years in New England, her family took an exciting opportunity to return to Key West.

This past spring, Mrs. Gauron took a temporary position in guidance at a local public school, and feels strongly that a faith-based school setting is where she is meant to be. She is deeply motivated to provide a classroom environment that is supportive, challenging, and, most-importantly, Christ-centered.

In her free time, Mrs. Gauron loves traveling, reading, fishing, watching football, and running. Together, she and her husband have four children.

Email: Gauron@basilicaschool.com

Jessica Tillman

Jessica Tillman

Grade 2

As the wife of a military husband, Mrs. Tillman has moved all over the country living in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, California and Washington State prior to settling in Key West in 2017. She has two step-children, Kada and Kane, and two dogs Louis and Stout. In her spare time, she enjoys being out on the water, yoga, reading, and watching her Green Bay Packers play.

Mrs. Tillman earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California Riverside, her Teaching Credential from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, and her Reading Endorsement through the Monroe County School District.

Professionally, Mrs. Tillman has over 20 years of experience teaching 2nd through 8th grades in both Catholic and public schools. Second grade is where she feels she can make the biggest impact on her students, making it her favorite by far. She is a dedicated educator and is always looking for new and innovative ways to engage her students in learning.

She is excited and motivated to be a part of The Basilica School and to provide a fun, positive, and faith-filled educational experience for our future leaders.

Email: Tillman@basilicaschool.com

Kyle Farrell

Kyle Farrell

Grade 3

Ms. Farrell is very happy to be back in a Christian school where Christ can be not only the center of her life but of her classroom also. She believes that a Christ-centered learning environment is one highly conducive to learning. She finds it a joy to watch students grow not just in intellect but in closeness to God. Her hobbies include snorkeling and photography and there is no better place to enjoy both than the Florida Keys.

A native of New York, Mrs. Farrell received her BA in Child Psychology at Flagler College in St. Augustine and her MS in Education at Long Island University. Mrs. Farrell has spent the majority of her instructional career in elementary classrooms. Her family relocated to the Keys in 2016, where she began teaching in middle grades history in Marathon.

Email: farrell@basilicaschool.com

Emily Sewell

Emily Sewell

Kindergarten

Emily Sewell recently moved to Key West from Palm Harbor, FL. She received her degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. Ms. Sewell enjoys reading, fishing, kayaking, and hiking in her free time. She always encourages her students to be kind, caring, and God-loving. Ms. Sewell is very excited to be a part of the Basilica School team!

Email: sewell@basilicaschool.com

Lindsey O’Connor

Lindsey O’Connor

Grade 1

A native Texan, Mrs. O’Connor relocated to Key West with her husband and 3 boys in June 2020. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences. After spending 10 years working with youth and their families, Mrs. O’Connor obtained her teaching certification in early childhood-6thgrade and has taught reading/math intervention and 2nd grade. She feels blessed to have the opportunity to teach in a Christ centered school and looks forward to encouraging her students in not only growing their minds, but their faith as well.

In her free time Mrs. O’Connor enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, watching Texas A&M football, renovating her home in Big Pine, and playing with the only other girl in the house- Penny the Goldendoodle. She is also the volunteer liaison (ombudsman) for US Coast Guard Cutter Thetis where she provides communication between the command and families, information and referral resources, and acts as an advocate for the active-duty family members aboard Thetis.

Email: o’connor@basilicaschool.com

 

Christina Baird

Christina Baird

Grade 5

Christina Baird was born and raised in Key West. She enjoys boating and spending time with her family on the water. She has degrees in both elementary education and nursing from the University of Central Florida. Go Knights! She is excited to re-enter the educational field, after 10 years in the nursing field. She has taught Kindergarten, 2nd, and 6th grade, where she received first year teacher of the year. She will be going into her 4th year of teaching as the Basilica’s new 5th grade teacher.

Email: Baird@basilicaschool.com

Marella Barroso

Marella Barroso

Grade 1

Ms. Marella Barroso was born and raised in Key West and is an alumni Mary Immaculate / The Basilica School. She considers this parish and school community one of her biggest blessings in life.  After recently graduating with honors from the University of Florida, Ms. Barroso has come home to begin her career as an educator.

Ms. Marella received a Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.  She has apprenticed at The Basilica School under the legendary Mrs. Sidney Jones where she learned the best of pedagogy and classroom management.  Ms. Barroso also runs her own business teaching children swimming and water safety.  She takes joy in encouraging children to overcome difficult tasks, building self-confidence and fostering an intrinsic motivation within each child to always strive to give their very best.

Email: mbarroso@basilicaschool.com

 

Melinda Foell

Melinda Foell

Kindergarten

Mrs. Foell began working at The Basilica School in 2013. A native to Key West, she relishes serving in the community she grew up in. In her free time, Mrs. Foell enjoys boating and spending time with her husband and family. Ms. Foell believes in building a strong classroom community that engages each child while instilling in them a love for learning.

Email: foell@basilicaschool.com

Gretchen Millender

Gretchen Millender

Grade 2

Mrs. Millender is originally from Washington State where she graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BA in Math and Elementary Education. Teaching in a Catholic school had always been her dream and upon graduating, she began teaching in middle school. After finishing her MA in Teaching and Learning, Mrs. Millender and her family moved to Seattle where she taught kindergarten in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Once her sons graduated from high school and left for college and military service, she and her family moved to Florida. Mrs. Millender spent those years teaching in the public school system. She and her husband have three grown boys. They were recently blessed with a daughter, who they adopted in March of 2022. Mrs. Millender is very excited to be returning to her Catholic roots.

Mrs. Millender loves to bike. She recently finished a 100 mile bike ride from Key Largo to Key West, a benefit for Autism awareness. In her free time, Mrs. Millender enjoys having fun and traveling with her family.

Email: Millender@basilicaschool.com

Middle School Staff

Aimee Varela

Aimee Varela

MS Science

Although born in Chicago, Illinois, Mrs. Aimee Varela was raised in Key West, Florida. Mrs. Varela is a Mary Immaculate alumni. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Education from the University of Florida. Education is Mrs. Varela’s passion — she is dedicated to inspiring and developing the minds of all of her students.

Email: varela@basilicaschool.com

 

Dana Balmaceda

Dana Balmaceda

MS Mathematics/Spanish

Ms. 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

 

Allison Hunter

Allison Hunter

MS English Language Arts

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. Mrs. Hunter moved to 5th grade in 2015 and to the middle school in 2020.

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

High School Staff

Anna Coppa

Anna Coppa

High School Literature & Theology

Hailing from the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, Miss Coppa is a newcomer to sunny Key West. Miss Coppa graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ave Maria University this past May, having earned a degree in both Music and Literature. Miss Coppa is so excited to share not only her love of English Literature but also her love of her Catholic faith.

When not reading, Miss Coppa loves to play the piano and guitar, write music, and sing with her roommate, Miss Shivas. In addition, she is an avid thrift shopper, a tea party lover, and a part-time connoisseur of delicious foods.

Email: Coppa@basilicaschool.com

The Basilica School employs or contracts teachers who hold baccalaureate or higher degrees and who are professionally certified or in the certification process.