Our School


  • Is independent and autonomous
  • Serves 15 students in grades K-5 during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Seeks to enroll up to 15 additional students for the 2021-2022 school year in grades K-6.
  • Will enroll additional students in higher grade levels in subsequent years until eventually, we serve around 100 students through 12th grade.
  • Uses partial, two-way immersion – 50% Spanish and 50% English throughout our program




What is language immersion?

  • Students in an immersion program are taught in a language they are learning – a target language – for at least half their instructional time.
  • In an immersion program, the target language is used to teach academic content – math, science, history, social studies – and more.
  • Research shows that the most effective immersion programs take advantage of a critical, early period for language development and begin in preschool or kindergarten.

What Does The Research Say About Language Immersion?

What else do we know about immersion?

Decades of research on language immersion programs in the US show that:


Why do we deliver a program rich in the arts?

The arts are highly engaging and a natural fit for teaching language. The arts permit children to display their creativity, explore their passions, and speak out for what they believe in. The arts can be a comforting, therapeutic outlet for children. The arts add beauty to the world and enhance our lives.

Additionally, research on the arts shows that:

How do we deliver a program rich in the arts?

  • We frequently teach music, the visual arts, the performing arts, and the literary arts.
  • We hire skilled, creative teachers, adept at using the arts to teach academic content.
  • We use music, the visual arts, the performing arts, and the literary arts to teach core content, including math and science.
  • We allow our students to use the arts for a variety of purposes – to demonstrate their knowledge, to express their passions, and to speak out for what they believe in.
  • Especially when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we will tap into Tampa Bay’s vibrant artistic community to connect to local artists, who will work directly with our students.
  • We seek to form partnerships with local arts institutions, ensuring additional contact with artists both in and outside of our school.
  • Eventually, we will host an artist-in-residence program, allowing both local artists and those from far away – even abroad – to share their expertise with our students.


How is our school international?

Through instruction conducted in the primary language spoken in 20 nations. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.

  • Through an educational program that emphasizes an exploration of cultures and people worldwide, especially those commonly left out of history books and curricula in the United States.
  • Through the building of a global mindset that appreciates multiple perspectives of an issue.
  • Through the formation of sister school relationships with schools in countries around the world.
  • Through the gradual implementation of an international travel program with our sister schools.
  • Through the hosting of international students, their parents, and faculty members by Tampa Bay International School families.


Why does diversity matter?


Why learn Spanish?

  • To be able to communicate with the 450 million native Spanish speakers on the planet, who speak the world’s second most common language.
  • To learn the second most widely spoken language in Tampa Bay, throughout Florida, and in the United States.
    • Over 20% of all Floridians speak Spanish.
    • Since 2010, St. Pete’s population of citizens born in Latin America has increased by 40%.
    • Clearwater’s Hispanic population is estimated at 20%.
    • 25% of Tampa’s residents are Hispanic.
    • The Latino population throughout Tampa Bay is expected to skyrocket by 27% over the next 15 – 20 years.

Why become bilingual?

  • Because social relationships and travel experiences are enhanced for bilingual people!
  • Because becoming bilingual is a mind opening experience! Bilinguals have an added appreciation of other people, cultures, and perspectives.
  • Because becoming bilingual adds to a person’s future academic opportunities and earning potential!
  • Because becoming bilingual makes you smarter! Bilinguals hold many cognitive advantages over people who speak only one language.




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:


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.


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 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.


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.