SPANISH IMMERSION

Teaching an additional language through immersion yields amazing results. Decades of research strongly supports language immersion as a best educational practice for diverse groups of learners. 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.

A bilingual education has a multitude of benefits. Beyond just speaking more than one language, bilingual students are better thinkers.

  • Bilingual students have superior focus and the ability to tune out distractions [study: American Psychological Association].
  • Bilingual students score higher on IQ tests and produce higher SAT scores on subjects unrelated to language; like math and science [Study: Dartmouth College].
  • Bilingual students are better learners. When children learn a second language, it’s often easier for them to learn a third, fourth or fifth language.
  • Bilinguals have a more informed and empathetic view of people and cultures. This makes them better citizens of the world.
  • Bilingual children develop enhanced literacy skills. (Dr. Ellen Bialystok, Cambridge University).
  • Bilingual children display more divergent and creative thinking than monolingual children (Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson, University of Miami).
  • Younger children have a superior ability to learn a second language. There is a window of time before the mind ‘lateralizes’ language into a rigid, hard-to-reach compartment, a period of time when the mind has a ‘functional plasticity.’ It lasts from infancy up until around the age of 12. [Dr. Eric Lenneberg, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Ellen Bialystok, York University]

 

Spanish is the most common second language in Tampa Bay, throughout Florida, and in the United States, giving your student the ability to practice their new skills outside the classroom in many different environments. Spanish is also the second most widely spoken language worldwide; 560 million people speak Spanish. It is a primary language in 21 nations.

At our school, 50% of our students’ instruction is conducted in Spanish and 50% in English from grades K-5. In middle school (grades 6-8) students may continue with immersion instruction for half their instructional time. . Alternatively, they may opt for a Spanish proficiency track, in which instruction takes place primarily in English and students learn Spanish as a special subject. The goal of this track is to help students develop competency in the Spanish language and lay a strong foundation for future mastery of the Spanish language.

Students who go through the entire sequence of an elementary immersion program develop intermediate levels of fluency and are able to communicate in their additional language on topics appropriate to their age level. In addition to the goal of functional proficiency in an additional language, immersion programs have further goals: the mastery of subject content material — taught through the additional language — and the deeper understanding and enrichment of one’s own life that comes from learning about people and cultures other than one’s own.

Additional research can be found on our FAQ page.

  

Danielle Goldman

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 Gaunce

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 A. Wein, M.D.

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 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.