Mrs. Cugliotta returns for her 4th year at RPA. She came to RPA with 15 years of teaching experience. She taught in first grade for 8 years in a Catholic School located in New Jersey and for 7 years as a preschool teacher. Both were Christian schools one being located in New Jersey and the other on the east coast of Florida. Along with teaching in the academic classroom, Mrs. Cugliotta teaches religious education in her parish. She graduated from Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education.
As a former Royal Palm Academy parent and part-time faculty member, Erin Garner is excited to return full time as a kindergarten teacher.
Mrs. Garner earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Anderson University and also a Kindergarten Endorsement from Indiana-Purdue University. She has been in the field of Education for over 20 years, having taught 1st grade, Kindergarten, and Preschool at both private and public schools in Indiana and Florida. During the time of raising her three children, she tutored students and homeschooled her youngest child in grades K-5.
Mrs. Garner is very excited to continue her teaching career as part of the Royal Palm Academy family.
Miss Kinnear returns for her 8th year at Royal Palm Academy, this being her 6th year as one of our Kindergarten teachers. Previously, she taught Pre-K4 in the morning and technology to grades 4th through 8th in the afternoon. Miss Kinnear graduated from North Park University in Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, a minor in English and endorsements in English as a Second Language, Language Arts and Middle School. She holds a dual teaching certification in both Illinois and Florida.
Mrs. Brady is returning for her 12th year at RPA. She taught Kindergarten for three years, and this will be her 9th year teaching 1st grade. Erin will also continue as our Reading Coordinator for grades K – 2. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Fredonia State University in New York and her Master’s Degree in Literacy from Canisius College in New York.
Mrs. Griffith is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and is Certified by the State of Florida to teach Early Childhood PK-3. Before moving to Florida, she taught 2nd Grade in Baton Rouge. This will be Mrs. Griffith’s second year of teaching and her first year at Royal Palm Academy as a Kindergarten Teacher.
Ms. Greene was born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Education degree as well as a Masters in Elementary Education. She has been a teacher at Royal Palm Academy for 10 years. She taught 5th grade for 3 years and this is her 7th year teaching 2nd grade. She loves starting her day in the chapel with her co-workers and the family feel that she experiences here at RPA.
Returning to Naples after twenty years, Sara Ryan is excited to join the Royal Palm Academy faculty as a 2nd Grade teacher. Ms. Ryan earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and began her career in Early Childhood as a Pre-K teacher. She went on to earn a Master's degree in Literacy Education from New York University and has taught 1st through 4th Grades, as well as English to speakers of other languages and graduate level courses in reading instruction. While Ms. Ryan is only beginning her time at Royal Palm Academy, she says she can already see that this community is one of a kind.
Ms. Ryan feels it is important to offer a hands-on approach where teachers facilitate the learning process and support students in becoming independent problem solvers. Providing differentiated instruction and guiding students with compassion and positivity sets the tone for strong relationships. It is rewarding to both teacher and student when students recognize their own growth and take ownership of the learning experience. Providing a balance between the creative and the disciplined carries over into all areas of study and helps propel students forward.
Mrs. Sedio has taught for 20 years in Pre-K – 2nd grade. She is returning for her 18th year at Royal Palm Academy in third grade. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Fredonia State University of New York and holds a dual teaching certification in both New York and Florida. Shannon was awarded and nationally recognized for three consecutive years in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and was also nominated for Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award in 2010. In 2012, she was honored by the Naples Alliance for Children with the Apple Blossom Award, Teacher of the Year.
Mrs. Theriault is returning for her 19th year at Royal Palm Academy as one of our Third Grade teachers. In addition, this will be her 6th year as one of our Cross Country coaches. Mrs. Theriault graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama where she earned a triple major in Early Childhood Development, Elementary Education K through 6th, and Special Education for mild learning and behavior disabilities.
Mr. Tim DeVita is very excited to be joining the staff at Royal Palm Academy. Mr. DeVita moved from NYC, where most recently he was a Literacy Coordinator for CAMBA, a non-profit in Brooklyn. In this role he trained staff and worked with over 600 students instilling a love of literacy. Mr. DeVita has also taught 4th grade in Broward County, as well as teaching internationally in Seoul, South Korea, and Caracas, Venezuela. He also owned and operated a tutoring company helping parents and students. Prior to becoming an educator Mr. DeVita spent 15 years in Corporate America. He also spent 5 years active duty Air Force as well as 12 years in the Air Force Reserves. He has spent 15 years living abroad and loves to share these experiences with students. Mr. DeVita has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Lynn University, a Masters in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baruch University. This year he will be teaching 4th Grade Language Arts and History.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Johanni graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. Throughout his time at Ave, he enjoyed classes in the humanities such as Western Civilization, C.S Lewis, Mariology, as well as Psychology—all courses that have shaped his work with young adults. Previously, Mr. Johanni was a resident assistant, camp instructor, and marketing intern at various companies including a Fortune 500 benefits management company. Mr. Johanni enjoys sports; he has 12 years of experience in Fencing, and he has played college Ultimate Frisbee and Rugby. Theater is also a passion of his, and Mr. Johanni performed in all the Ave Maria Drama Club performances. But ultimately, he says there's nothing like hiking, fishing, and camping in the great outdoors. If you can't tell, Mr. Johanni is a bit of a Rennaissance Man! He looks forward to sharing his passions with his students this year and learning more about what they enjoy too.
Middle School Faculty
This is Mrs. Sarah Bucknell’s second year at Royal Palm Academy and her seventh year of teaching. Sarah attended Catholic schools from Pre-K through her undergraduate studies at Ave Maria University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature. She has spent the past five years teaching at a public charter school, where she taught a sixth grade self-contained class for two years and a mix of middle and high school literature and grammar/composition for three years. Sarah has personally crafted each course she has taught and is a professionally certified teacher in Elementary Education and English grades 6-12 with endorsements in Special Education (ESE), Gifted Education, and English Language Learning (EL).
This is Miss Gorda’s 10th year at RPA. She graduated from Kean University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and has 29 years teaching experience in math. Before joining us, she was head of the Math Department for five years at St. John Neumann High School. Prior to moving to Florida, Lisa worked at Union Catholic High School in New Jersey and transferred to Seton Hall Prep School for 12 years. Miss Gorda moderates our Royal Palm Academy Math Team, Florida Math Team, Continental Math League, and is co-coordinator of our middle school Scholar Bowl. Miss Gorda was honored being named the 2007 “Golden Halo Award” winner and has been nominated four times into “Who’s Who of America’s Teachers.”
Mrs. Rinaldini is in her 11th year at RPA, where she teaches the Middle School and 5th Grade Science program. Originally from Connecticut, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Psychology from Marymount College (now Fordham), NY and a Master’s Degree in Biology Education from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Mrs. Rinaldini has 39 years teaching experience in Catholic high school education. Prior to joining RPA, she served for 9 years as Science Department Chair at Mercy High School in Middletown, CT. Previously, she has taught at both Barry University and FGCU and has been a Teacher Research Fellow at Boehringer Ingleheim Pharmaceuticals. In 1994, Mrs. Rinaldini was the recipient of the University of Connecticut Excellence in High School Teaching Award. She has also served as contributing guest at National Institutes of Health Blueprint for K-12 Neuroscience Curriculum Conference in Bethesda, MD. In 2013, Mrs. Rinaldini was honored by the Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida as a top ten finalist for the Golden Halo Award, an honor she welcomed sharing with Sr. Grace Henneberry. At RPA, Mrs. Rinaldini enjoys bringing her enthusiasm for the sciences to all students.
Special Area Faculty
Coach Matt Bucknell is starting his 5th year of teaching and his 21st year of involvement in Athletics. Five of those years were in the capacity of Athletics Director at a K-12th charter school in Naples. Although born and raised in England, Coach Bucknell came to Florida in 2014 and has stayed, making Naples his home with his wife Sarah (RPA teacher) and daughter Becca (RPA, Pre-K3). Coach Bucknell's passion is sports. Specializing in soccer, Coach Bucknell holds both English and American coaching qualifications as well as English referee qualifications. He has played at the highest level. Some accomplishments include playing and coaching soccer at the Gothia Youth World Cup and playing in the Premier League youth academies at Reading Football Club and Manchester United as a goalkeeper. Coach Bucknell also is a big fan of music and fantasy books.
Francesco D'Agostino is a composer for film, TV, commercials, and video games. At a young age, he immersed himself in rock, funk, and jazz music before attaining a classical music and theatre education at Ave Maria University. Through Berklee Online's Masters Degree in Film Scoring, Francesco has written several Classical, orchestral, ethnic, and synthesized works pertaining to the craft of media composition. He is always seeking new opportunities to create and portray characters, worlds, emotions, and stories through the powerful language of music. New to Royal Palm Academy this year, he looks forward to leading students in discovering their musical gifts from God.
Barbara “Babs” Mundy is very excited to join the Royal Palm Academy team! Originally from New Jersey, Mrs. Mundy graduated with a BA in Art Education from Rutgers College, Rutgers University. She began her teaching career at Roselle Catholic High School in NJ, where she taught art for 8 years. She then taught another 5 years in NJ at Jackson Memorial High School. In 1997, Mrs. Mundy decided to move to beautiful Naples, Florida, with her family and taught art for Collier County Public Schools for 22 years. She taught for three years at Naples High School, three years at Gulf Coast High School, and was then asked to be a part of the opening of Palmetto Ridge High School in 2004, where she spent the remaining 16 years. Over the course of her 35 years in the classroom, she has taught the following subjects: Drawing, Painting, 2-D Studio Art, and Portfolio Honors. She also achieved National Board Certification in 2005. Mrs. Mundy’s two sisters, Lisa Gorda and Karen Evans, have worked at Royal Palm Academy for many years. She is very excited to join them as well as become part of the “RPA family!” Most of all, she cannot wait to share her artistic experience with K-8 students and help them grow into amazing, young artists!
Maria Varela joins the RPA staff after being a substitute teacher last year. Prior to joining RPA, Maria taught two years at Gulf Coast High School and in 2004 transferred to be part of the original Palmetto Ridge High School faculty. During her 15-year career at PRHS, she taught English to English Language Learners, Spanish, English 4 Honors, and Intensive Reading. She became certified as a Master Intel® Teach to the Future instructor which afforded her the opportunity to provide professional development for teachers to help them integrate technology into instruction to enhance student learning. Maria received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Miami. Later, she pursued her Master’s Degree in Education from Walden University.
Mrs. Varela is very happy and feels blessed to be a part of Royal Palm Academy. She looks forward to igniting creativity through technology and a passion for lifelong learning in her students.
Ms. Wheeler started at RPA as a substitute teacher 6 years ago and then joined the staff part-time as our Library Media Specialist. Joyce moved to Naples from Maine after retiring from a long career in education. She has been a Media Specialist, Guidance Counselor, and English teacher in both a private Jesuit High School and public school settings. In her spare time she teaches online and is a Faculty Advisor for The Virtual High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Education and Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut. Joyce later went back to school for a second Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston and is member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Martha De La Barrera is excited to join Royal Palm Academy as a Spanish teacher for Pre-K, K and 1st Grade. A native Spanish speaker, Mrs. De La Barrera has extensive experience in the field of teaching Spanish as a second language. Originally from Lima, Peru, Mrs. De La Barrera studied Biology at Ricardo Palma University in Lima. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from IPAE – Business Administration School in Lima. Once she arrived in the USA, she transitioned to a career in education and begin teaching Spanish and directing Spanish language programs and shows. She has formally taught Spanish from Pre-K to 8th Grade in highly regarded Naples private schools, as well as tutored and homeschooled children for more than ten years.
Mrs. De La Barrera is registered member of AATSP, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese as well as E-PALS, a global community connecting with classrooms around the world. She is the mother of one daughter and enjoys classical and Latin music, as well as gardening, reading, swimming. A believer in the philosophy that early childhood education lays the foundation for life, she also instills in her students her enthusiasm for the love of God, the Blessed Mother, daily prayer, the rosary, and having Jesus as the center of our lives.
Mrs. Mongalo is returning to Royal Palm Academy for her third year as a Spanish teacher for 1st grade & Middle School. She previously taught Pre-K3-1st grade. Cinthya was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and at 8 years of age moved with her family to Miami, FL. She was raised while being surrounded by the Latin culture and deep catholic beliefs. Later in life Mrs. Mongalo moved back to her native country and lived there for 14 wonderful years with her 3 children and husband. She moved back to Florida with her family last summer to settle in beautiful Naples. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is currently studying for her Master’s degree in education with an emphasis in special education. Cinthya loves teaching and giving back to those in need as was shown through her service project to help Nicaraguan charities in 2018. She is passionate about spreading God’s love around. She has also helped to coordinate the “LaPurisima” during the Hispanic Heritage Festival. She helped students create altars honoring the Blessed Mary to imitate the customs celebrated in Nicaragua. In doing so she taught students how they also observe the daily novena prayer. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family, praying the rosary and faithfully observing Eucharistic adoration.
RPA Substitutes/After-School Care
Mr. Flores is retired from NYCDOC Rikers Island. He was a certified Peace Officer with powers of arrest. Following that John accepted a job as a Custody Detention Supervisor in GITMO for one year. He also worked as an Air Transport Officer assisting HLS and ICE in Deportations of Felons for two years.
"I believe God lives in RPA, it's the best job I ever had."