Welcome

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 and a progressive, pluralistic program of Jewish education open to students of all backgrounds. Our small, independent school prioritizes 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 numbers of students allow us to provide instruction that is highly individualized, differentiated, and student-driven.

OUR LOCATION

We are located at 1685 S. Belcher Rd. Clearwater, FL 33764  .

 

OUR INNOVATIVE PROGRAM

 

 

Immersion

Research points to many cognitive and academic benefits enjoyed by bilinguals. Language immersion is widely regarded as best practice in foreign language instruction, with decades of studies to support its success as the only educational program that leads to bilingualism. Instructional time at our school is divided equally between English and Spanish, with instruction in English one day and instruction in Spanish the next.

Multi-Age Groupings

 

Our small school consists of children from grades K-5 who frequently participate in lessons and activities together. Younger children learn a great deal from older students. Discourse in their classes is elevated as more advanced vocabulary and language is used. Younger students learn to utilize more complex problem solving and critical thinking skills by participating in lessons along with their older classmates. Older students learn skills and academic content more deeply by teaching others. Their self-esteem is elevated as they serve as mentors and guides. Close relationships form across age-levels, much as they do within a family.

 

Differentiated Instruction

Multi-age groupings ensure that when we look at one of our students, we don’t see a grade level; we see an individual child with strengths and areas for potential growth. Our job as teachers is to nurture and challenge that individual child appropriately, to fully realize her potential. To achieve this, instruction must be highly personalized and differentiated.

Our small school enables us to differentiate instruction effectively. Our guided reading and math groups consist of as few as just two or three students and typically not more than five members. These groupings are ability-based; they are not created just because a student is currently a certain age or in a certain grade. A younger student who is an advanced reader, for example, is able to participate in reading groups with children who are older and who are reading content that is more advanced. A child who is ready to be challenged mathematically can work with a curriculum of a higher grade level, alongside students of similar ability levels.

 

 

 

Academic Rigor

 

 

 

We use two nationally recognized, highly challenging curricula: EL Education and Eureka Math. These standards-based curricula serve as our guides to aid us in the development of much of our students’ learning and are used to help us assess our students’ level of understanding. They are curricula that promote critical thinking, problem solving, and curiosity about our world.

 

Student-Driven Learning

We believe that children should take ownership of their own education. We allow our students to vote on curriculum topics. We help each student establish individualized learning goals and teach them to monitor their own progress as they work to achieve those goals. We grant students the freedom — and the time — to carry out and present “passion projects” — projects that can take virtually any form and that allow our students to select, research, and bring to fruition a project on a topic of their own interest. And rather than traditional “parent/teacher conferences” we hold family conferences that involve — and are eventually led by — the student.

 

 

 

The Arts

Music, drama, and all forms of artistic expression are highly engaging, natural vehicles for language learning. The arts provide students with important therapeutic outlets and permit children to display their creativity, explore their passions, and speak out for what they believe in. The arts are taught both independently and integrated into academic instruction. They are incorporated into our literacy blocks, our explorations of social studies, and sometimes even math and science. They are a vital part of our program. We look forward to enhancing our arts instruction as our school grows.

 

 

Educating the Whole Child

We prioritize the social, emotional, and physical health of each student. We begin each school day with a morning meeting in which we work to build a sense of community and address the social needs of our students. Two days a week we offer yoga instruction and at other times throughout the week we practice mindfulness and meditation exercises. We ease into our day rather than beginning full throttle with academics. In the long run, putting the well-being and mental health of children first improves their academic performance.

Play

Children deserve the chance to play. They learn through play. Language development, problem solving, social skills, and cognitive growth are all enhanced through play. Play also provides children with important physical exercise and at our school, fresh air. Play helps children feel happier. A happy child learns more. It is vital to us that play is a protected time for our students. At Tampa Bay International School, students have two scheduled recess periods, one lasting 30 minutes and another that is 20 minutes long.

 

OUR GLOBAL APPROACH

 

 

 

Our international school explores peoples and cultures worldwide, especially those commonly left out of history books and curricula in the United States. Tampa Bay International School emphasizes the cultivation of a global mindset that acknowledges multiple perspectives of complex issues, an appreciation of our world’s rich diversity, and a commitment to working to solve the social, economic, and environmental problems that we all face on our shared planet.

 

 

HELP FUND OUR 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 is our school’s Jewish Studies and yoga teacher. She serves as Community Educator at the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, as well as the Associate Rabbi and Prayer Leader at Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater. Originally from New York City, Rabbi Upbin attended Barnard College and received her Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2002.  A professionally trained singer and songwriter, Rabbi Upbin is also a past president of the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis and serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Counsel of Israel Bonds. From 2012-2016, Rabbi Upbin also worked for the Jewish Theological Seminary as the Florida Rabbinic Fellow, a development, outreach, and teaching position.

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 board member Virginia Chacon is a native of Uruguay and a licensed Real Estate Professional. She is also a part-time private Spanish tutor, and a mother of two young children. Prior to moving to Florida in 2011, Virginia worked at the Embassy of Uruguay in Washington, DC. Virginia is a strong proponent of multicultural education, diverse schools, and helping children form a global mindset that allows them to understand multiple perspectives of issues and appreciate the diverse cultures that make up our world.

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.