Staff and Faculty

Nima Duncan

Nima Duncan, Principal

Nima Duncan joined Saint Basil Academy in July 2020, after he and his family made their way to Walla Walla from Portland, Oregon. A lifelong learner and educator with over nine years of leadership, ministry, and administrative experience, Mr. Duncan serves as principal and core teacher for fourth and fifth grades for the 2020-21 school year.  He has a wealth of experience in Christian education, community service and coalition building.

A writer, sports enthusiast, and first-generation American, Mr. Duncan is excited to bring his love of literature, philosophy, and history to Saint Basil Academy.

Mr. Duncan holds a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Liberty University and a MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Emma, are enjoying their first year living in Walla Walla with their son.

Brandon Thompson

Brandon Thompson, Middle School Teacher

Brandon Thompson has been teaching for sixteen years, including five years at Saint Basil Academy. He began his career teaching GED classes to inner-city youth in Chicago. After that, he spent several years teaching writing and literature at four different community colleges.

Brandon has an undergraduate degree in philosophy, a master’s degree in writing with an emphasis on teaching writing, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry.

Brandon is married and has six children; when he has spare time, he enjoys spending time with his kids, reading, writing poetry, jogging, and making music.


Juliana Reese, Teacher

My name is Juliana Reese. I am a 1-3 grade teacher here at St. Basil Academy as well as the middle school algebra teacher. Previously I taught at St. John’s Orthodox School in Yakima. I was there for two years, teaching as the primary teacher for 2nd-3rd grade students, and I taught music to the whole school. Music has always been an integral part of my life. I have been in the choir at my Church as long as I can remember, serving as the lead chanter for several years, and I have played violin and the dulcimer for a number of years. Children are my favorite people to be around. I love making connections with them and learning the uniqueness of each of them.

Philippa Wauchek

Philippa WauchekArt and Music Teacher, Grades 4-5

Philippa brings creativity to Saint Basil academy. She teaches Art and Drama to fourth—5th grades, Drama to the middle schoolers, and fills in wherever else needed. Being an alumni of the school, she can relate to the students on another level. Taking inspiration from her past Drama teachers, she strives to create a comfortable environment for the students. Her hobbies include painting, filming and editing videos, playing numerous instruments, and expanding her art skills with new mediums. She always looks forward to putting together new engaging projects for her classes!

Mara Lewis

Mara Lewis, Kindergarten Teacher

“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships” – Zora Neale Hurston

I had the privilege of growing up in a large family steeped in ideas, literature, art and music. I waded the sewers with Jean Valjean, fought duels with the Count of Monte Cristo, hoped and dreamed with Rilla of Ingleside, and will be forever grateful for an education that showed me there’s no end to learning; that I will always be on the quest for knowledge, truth and beauty.

With 6 years of experience teaching music and extra curricular classes to children ages 4-15, I have a broad knowledge of child development and how to carefully craft a lesson to fit a child’s specific learning style. I am actively continuing my own educational development by taking classes in my spare time, and working towards more certifications in early childhood education.

At St. Basil Academy Kindergarten I strive to create an environment where children can develop curiosity, exploration, creativity, and innovation. An environment that fosters resilience, problem solving skills, risk taking, oral language skills, collaboration, mathematical understanding, and a deep connection with nature.

I work hard to nurture a sense of wonder in my students, and ignite the spark of excitement for learning that will serve as a gateway to their journey of becoming seekers of wisdom.

Jennifer Kontos

Jennifer Kontos. Teacher

Mrs. Kontos has been a certified teacher for over 20 years. She graduated from Gonzaga University with a Bachelor’s in Education, certified in both regular & special education settings. She also holds a Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction from ArizonaState University. Working with children, collaborating with teachers, and developing & implementing effective curriculum are Mrs. Kontos’ passions. At Saint Basil, Mrs. Kontos really enjoys working directly with such a devoted group of teachers on campus. She not only supports and communicates with teachers, but also assists with developing innovative learning methods that align with Saint Basil’s mission of lifelong learning.Mrs. Kontos is married to Kip Kontos and have three daughters. One of their daughters is in middle school at Saint Basil Academy! Their youngest is a fourth grader and oldest daughter is a freshman at Gonzaga. In her spare time, she loves to spend quality time with family and friends, often on a boat in the summer and ski slopes in the winter. She also finds gardening, going for walks, and reading takes her to her happy place.
Yanel Berentsen

Yanel Berentsen, Teacher

Seraphim Klinefelter, Teacher

Phillip McKeen

Phillip McKeen, Technology Teacher

Father Daniel

Fr Daniel Reese, Chaplain