Patricia Flórez is a native of Bogotá, Colombia who has taught children from Early Childhood through 8 th grade in schools in both Atlanta, Georgia and in Tampa Bay. Patricia brings a variety of talents to our faculty; in addition to many years of teaching and experience in curricula development, she has a background in health and wellness and is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Therapist. Patricia is passionate about helping children develop healthy eating habits. This is Patricia’s first year at Tampa Bay International School, where she works most closely with our youngest students. In her free time, Patricia enjoys being with family and friends, traveling, reading, cooking and dancing.
Becca Greenspan teaches Language Arts, Math, and Jewish studies at the Tampa Bay International School. She is also the Director of Community Programs and Family Engagement at the Jewish Federation of Florida's Gulf Coast. Originally from
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Becca graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in special education and received her master’s degree in special education from The University of Texas at Austin. Becca taught in the Austin Independent School District as a special education teacher for two years before moving to New York City, where she worked for Central Synagogue as their Assistant Director of the religious school. Becca is new to the Tampa Bay area and is looking forward to the upcoming school year. When Becca is not working, she can be found exploring the new restaurant scene, cheering on the Wisconsin Badgers, and exploring the beaches and parks with her two dogs.
Livia Wein is an avid volunteer at Tampa Bay International School. She was born in Sighet, Romania and spent a year in Italy before arriving in the United States where she learned English in high school. She graduated from Brooklyn College, N.Y. and received her master’s degree from the University of South Florida in Administration and Supervision as well as curriculum development. Livia studied Spanish in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and at the Universidad de Costa Rica. She was a Florida Certified teacher in Spanish, French, ESOL and Gifted Education for grades K-12. Livia taught French and Spanish for over 37 years and served as Department Chair of World Languages at
Seminole Middle and later Seminole High School. She was a member of the Florida Foreign Language Association and served as a regional director. Some of her honors include: State of Florida Foreign Language Excellence in Leadership Award; The Pinellas County 2010 World Languages Teacher of the Year and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She is the proud grandmother of five children — two of whom attend TBIS. Livia is a true polyglot! She speaks English, Spanish, French, Romanian and Hungarian and is a powerful advocate of early childhood language immersion.
Gabriela Valencia is a violinist, visual artist, and educator who we are honored to have on our faculty as both a music teacher during the school day and a visual arts teacher in our after school program. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Gabriela has lived in the Tampa Bay area for a decade, where she has served as a violinist in community orchestras, taught music to elementary school students, and helped bring the Tampa Bay Latin Film festival to fruition. Gabriela’s artwork has been featured in private collections and galleries, museums, magazines, newspapers, and on television throughout Ecuador and Florida. Gabriela enjoys using music and art to touch the lives of others for the greater good of society. Music education, the arts and community work are the foundation of her career.
Melissa Cornejo is an Ecuadorian American educator who spent her primary school years in New Orleans and secondary school years in Quito, Ecuador. Melissa has a master’s degree in environmental science from Florida International University. She also holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Alabama. Melissa has been passionate about the environment ever since she was a child and loves to incorporate environmental awareness into her educational practices. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for nearly 15 years in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Ecuador.
Danielle Goldman is a former business professional with a background in sales and marketing and is a parent to two young sons, one of which is currently attending Tampa Bay International School. Following the birth of Danielle’s second son, she took a step back from her career and has spent time focused on family and developing and managing vacation rentals. Although she and her husband are from Tampa Bay, they spent many years living near New York City and had missed the diversity and inclusion offered there until finding Tampa Bay International School. Danielle and her family could not be more thrilled with the environment and education TBIS provides and are dedicated to ensuring other families get to experience inclusive, supportive and exciting education in Tampa Bay.
Meredith is a lawyer at Gaunce Law in St. Petersburg specializing in employment law for businesses. She graduated from Emory University in 2004 with her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish and then received her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2007 where she was the Founder and President of the Animal Legal Protection Organization (“ALPO”). After relocating to St. Petersburg in 2010 Meredith began working for the Labor and Employment firm Ogletree Deakins. In 2013, Meredith left the firm to become an in-house attorney for a corporation handling their employment matters and corporate contract needs. In 2016, Meredith opened Gaunce Law with her husband Andy. She has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Employment and Labor Law for the past five years and has been the only attorney in St. Petersburg receiving this designation for the past four years. She is the President of the local chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. In her spare time, she makes jewelry and runs after her 5-year-old son Noah and three dogs.
David is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Tampa General Hospital, Assistant Professor at the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, and System Medical Director for TeamHealth. As a board certified emergency medicine physician, David brings over 15 years of experience when advising TBIS on health and safety practices. In addition, he is the father of three sons, two of whom are students at TBIS. David is a native of Pinellas County where he serves on the board of Menorah Manor and previously served on the Congregation B’Nai Israel board of directors.
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
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.