Tampa Bay International School

Mission Statement & Vision

Tampa Bay International School is an innovative Spanish immersion school that promotes bilingualism in Spanish and English through an international curriculum rich in arts and culture.  Our school prioritizes the building of a diverse, inclusive community of all faiths. 

We feature both a vibrant program of progressive Jewish education that is open to all and a parallel program of ethics and world beliefs. For all our students, we prioritize the teaching of social justice (tzedakah and tikkun olam), the promotion of peace (shalom) and the protection of our planet (shmirat ha adamah). 

With instruction held primarily outdoors, our school draws on the educational philosophies of both Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Our low student-teacher ratio allows us to provide instruction that is highly individualized, differentiated, and student-driven.

History

Tampa Bay International School, founded in 2020 by Bennett Zamoff, offers a unique combination of Spanish language immersion and International studies, including a core curriculum of Jewish Studies or Ethics & World Beliefs. Our school serves students from kindergarten through Grade 7 for the 2022-2023 school year, growing to Grade 8 for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Our Head of School Bennett Zamoff brings 24 years of experience teaching students at world-class institutions including Washington International School in Washington, DC and  Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bennett has additionally taught abroad in Quito, Ecuador and in the Montgomery County, Maryland Public Schools, where he began his educational career working with elementary school students in a Spanish immersion program for over four years. 

Bennett holds master’s degrees in Education K-8 from the University of Maryland, College Park and a second master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in TESOL from Trinity University in Washington, DC.

Bennett is passionate about multicultural, arts-rich education and language immersion. He has spent much of his career working in schools with immersion programs and has seen firsthand their positive impact on diverse groups of students. Bennett has presented nationally on the multiple benefits of multilingualism and the wide body of research supporting immersion programs as a best practice in education.

Tampa Bay International School began as a Spanish immersion after school program and summer camp in 2019. Bennett proudly welcomed our school’s inaugural class of 14 students in the Fall of 2020. Bennett is not just our Head of School. He is able to build strong relationships with our students by also serving as a lead teacher and he’s a school parent too. His two children are TBIS students.

After a successful first year, TBIS grew by 85% in our second year, with half of all new students joining in kindergarten. We look forward to continuing to grow our elementary and middle school, bringing in new students and families that share our passion for a global approach to learning. 

“This is the school I always dreamed of. It didn’t exist, so I opened it. I felt a calling to do something positive to change the world. I wanted a Spanish immersion school because fluency in more than one language is a 21st century skill that all students need to acquire. I wanted a small school, because I believe that small schools are best positioned to nurture and challenge students in ways that are impossible to do in larger schools.” 

— Bennett Zamoff, Head of School

Parent Insights

What do parents have to say about our program? A November 2021 survey of TBIS parents found: 

  • The top reasons parents enrolled at our school were Spanish Immersion, small class size, COVID safety and outdoor education. 
  • Once enrolled, our parents say that community, culture and teachers set Tampa Bay International School apart from other schools.
  • Parents rave about our welcoming culture, the open, sincere, kind and inclusive environment at our school. 
  • They appreciate the intensive learning periods that are separated by unstructured time to play outdoors and develop personal passion projects. 
  • Teachers have a strong desire for their students to learn and an awareness of the unique strengths and weaknesses of each child, meeting them where they are and encouraging them to reach their best potential. 
  • Students enjoy child-directed learning and units of inquiry that cover multiple subject matters and a multi-age classroom setting where younger students can reach above their grade level and older students mentor while demonstrating their subject mastery. 

 

Our program of Jewish Education is made possible by the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast.jewish federation of florida's gulf coast pngflorida department of education png

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR GROWING SCHOOL!
Tampa Bay International School is a registered 501 c 3 non-profit organization.
If you would like to make a tax deductible
donation to our school, please click below: PLEASE DONATE NOW

 

Priscilla Velez

Priscilla teaches dance, music and Zumba! She loves teaching languages and cultural arts as a means to create bridges between communities. Her dynamic lessons focus on the incorporation of mindfulness and joy. In addition to her work with our students, she has also taught in the 2020 virtual summer camp held jointly by Tampa Bay International School and Jewish Community Camp. Priscilla is additionally the founder and lead educator of Seeds of Peace School of Languages, Health, and Cultural Arts, a space where she facilitates lessons that incorporate dance, language arts, music, and life skills

Dr. Richard Zamoff 

Board member Dr. Richard Zamoff is an associate professor of sociology at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His areas of specialization include Research Methods and Program Evaluation, the Sociology of Education, and the Relationship Between Sports and Society. Since 1996, he has served as the Director of the Jackie Robinson Project and since 2000, as the faculty advisor to the Jackie and Rachel Robinson Society, a GW student organization. He is a member of the advisory board of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. Prior to his arrival at GW, Dr. Zamoff managed and supervised technical work on government contracts related to day care, health education, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, and traffic safety.

Rabbi Danielle Upbin

Rabbi Danielle Upbin teaches Jewish studies and yoga at Tampa Bay International School. She is also the Associate Rabbi and Prayer Leader at Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater; Community Educator for the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast; and a regular contributor to MyJewishLearning.Com. Originally from New York City, Rabbi Upbin graduated from Barnard College with a degree in political science and received her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2002. From 2012- 2016, she taught throughout the region as the JTS Florida Rabbinic Fellow. Rabbi Upbin enjoys sharing her love of Judaism and song with students of all ages. She is a certified yoga instructor and interweaves Jewish meditation, spirituality, and yoga into her classes. Her musical releases of universal prayer are available wherever music is streamed. Rabbi Upbin resides in Clearwater with her husband (and co-rabbi) Rabbi David Weizman, four children, and a menagerie of pets.

Tracy Bortnick Lynn

Board member Tracy Bortnick Lynn is a mother of three and was a criminal prosecutor for 8 years in Montgomery County, Maryland. She began practicing law in 2005 after graduating from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. While raising her family in Florida for the past 6 years with her husband Eric, Tracy has been an active volunteer for organizations such as: Friends of North Shore, Temple Beth El Early Childhood Center, The Florida Holocaust Museum, Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, and Congregation B’nai Israel. Tracy also served as chair of After School programming for the Parent Teacher Association at North Shore Elementary School- leading the scholarship program to help ensure equal participation by all students in after school programs. Tracy studied Spanish in Seville, Spain while earning her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan. Tracy values diversity and bilingualism in an educational setting and looks forward to her children and all of those at TBIS continuing to learn how to make a positive impact on their communities.

Rachel Elias Wein

Rachel Elias Wein is a  board member and a parent to three sons, two of whom are students at Tampa Bay International School! Professionally, Rachel is a strategic advisor to retailers like Walgreens, Publix, and Kroger, as well as institutional real estate owners. Rachel serves on the boards of directors of Great Explorations Children's Museum in St. Petersburg, Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and the University of Florida's Bergstrom Real Estate Center.

Angelica Long-Diaz

Lead Teacher Angelica Long-Diaz is a Panamanian-American educator who spent most of her childhood years in Varese, Italy. Angelica comes from a multicultural family and speaks English, Spanish, and Italian. She holds a bachelor's degree in Special Education from Columbus State University and a Master's Degree from the University of Kansas in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL.) Angelica has taught both children and adults in a variety of settings, both in the US and abroad. Before joining the faculty at Tampa Bay International School, she taught in Daegu, South Korea. An avid gardener, Angelica also leads our students in the creation of our school garden, where our students grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

ERIKA LOPEZ

A native of Chicago, board member Erika Lopez is a mother of three with a profession in dental healthcare. Erika holds a BA in Communications/Marketing but her passion is working within her community, where she has been active for the past decade. Erika has served as a board member and vice chair of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum and is currently a Political Action Chairwoman for the NAACP St. Petersburg Branch, educating the community about the political process through voter registration, public events and candidate forums. Erika has earned the NAACP Presidential Award for Excellence in Service. Growing up bilingual in English and Spanish, Erika believes in an intellectual as well as a cultural advantage in education that she very much desires for her own three children, and would love to help bring to children throughout Tampa Bay.

VIRGINIA CHACON

Visual Arts teacher and aide Virginia Chacon is originally from San José, Uruguay. Before moving to Florida with her family a decade ago, Virginia lived in Washington, DC, where she worked at the Embassy of Uruguay for several years and obtained a degree in Hospitality Management. Virginia has worked with children in a number of capacities at Washington International School in Washington, DC and throughout the Tampa Bay area, including as a Spanish tutor. A licensed Realtor, Virginia feels that teaching art and spending time with children offer a nice balance to the sometimes stressful and fast pace of the real estate world. Virginia hopes that children learn to enjoy the process of creating art and that they become inspired by learning about other artists, from nature and by their own need to create.

DR. VONZELL AGOSTO

Board member Dr. Vonzell Agosto is an associate professor of curriculum studies in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of South Florida. Her research agenda focuses on curriculum leadership and anti-oppressive education for adults and youth with an emphasis on issues related to race, gender, and dis/ability. In pursuing this line of inquiry she considers the role of technology, ethics, arts, aesthetics, and culture (ethnic, popular, material). She has published articles in Teachers College Record, Educational Researcher, and the Journal of School Leadership.

BENNETT ZAMOFF

Bennett Zamoff is the founder of Tampa Bay International School and additionally serves as our school Head and a Lead Teacher. Bennett is an experienced educator who is passionate about language immersion as best practice in fostering bilingualism. Bennett has taught in a number of schools throughout the Washington, DC area, in Ecuador, and in Tampa Bay. Bennett’s graduate and professional interest and expertise center on first and second language acquisition and immersion education in the United States and Canada. Bennett is also a strong proponent of arts integration as a vital component of a rigorous academic program. Bennett holds masters degrees in Education K-8 and Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in TESOL. He is a recipient of the 4.0 Schools Essentials Fellowship as the founder of Tampa Bay International School. Bennett believes strongly in bilingualism as a necessary tool for all global citizens. He is the proud father of two children whom he and his wife are raising to be culturally competent, empathetic, and bilingual world citizens.