About Us to our school!

Our Mission

To foster bilingualism, embrace diversity, and inspire children to work for a just and sustainable planet through a program rich in the arts.

Our Founding team and governing board

Bennett Zamoff

Bennett Zamoff is the founder of St. Petersburg International School. 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 St. Petersburg International School. Bennett believes strongly in bilingualism as a necessary tool for all global citizens. He is the proud father of a boy, 8, and a girl, 5, whom he and his wife are raising to be culturally competent, empathetic, and bilingual world citizens.

Bennett is honored to lead a founding team and governing board made up of a diverse group of women and men who are equally passionate about bringing our unique school to the families of St. Petersburg.

Dr. Vonzell Agosto

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.

Virginia Chacon

A native of Uruguay, Virginia Chacon is a licensed Realtor, a part-time private Spanish tutor, and a mother of two young children. Virginia is particularly active in Tampa Bay’s Latino community and is using her knowledge and experience as a Realtor to spearhead our search for a facility. 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.

Dexia Fullone

Dexia Fullone grew up in Guayama, Puerto Rico and moved to Tampa, Florida at the age of 17 with almost no knowledge of English. Eventually, Dexia not only mastered English, but went on to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master's Degree in Engineering Management. Dexia is the mother of two beautiful girls, ages 2 and 4, whom she is raising to be bilingual. As a bilingual person herself, Dexia is passionate about empowering bilingual children, and empowering monolingual children to become bilingual.

Erika Lopez

A native of Chicago, 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 St. Petersburg.

George Klimis

A Senior Vice President at Med Partners, George Klimis has held various leadership, management, and client relationship positions during his extensive business career. George was a regional sales manager at both JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Additionally, George has been active in education and in work to support local youth; George is a former board member of Plato Academy, a position in which he served for five years, and a longtime youth soccer coach. George is a proud father of three children.

Kelly Lyons

Kelly Lyons is a parent of two active children who belong to the Saint Petersburg family, and an active advocate for bilingual education. Kelly majored in Spanish and Nurse-Anesthesia in college, and studied abroad in Spain and Cuba. She would love for her children -- and all the children that make up our school -- to experience how speaking Spanish can open so many doors -- both in global travel and in the workplace. Kelly believes that teaching children Spanish through immersion education is a gateway to cultural competence, and vital to our local Saint Pete community.

Dr. Adriana Tolentino

Dr. Adriana Tolentino is an assistant professor of Spanish at Eckerd College and a native of Veracruz, Mexico. Adriana’s research and teaching interests include colonial Latin American Literature, Latin American women’s poetry, gender studies, and emerging trends in Latin American theatre and film. Adriana’s expertise will continue to help shape the design of our educational program. Adriana is the mother of two young boys and a strong proponent of diverse schools that promote equity and inclusion

Our location

We are searching for a facility that will meet our needs.

We are committed to opening St. Petersburg International School in a location accessible to the children we wish to serve. We are considering a number of areas, among them large portions of South St. Petersburg, Midtown, Old Southeast, Historic Kenwood, Old Northeast and areas in or close to the downtown corridor.

Donation request

Donations to St. Petersburg International School help pay for everything from musical instruments to microscopes. They enable our faculty and staff to participate in valuable professional development opportunities. And they make it possible for us to offer tuition on a sliding scale, in order to bring our school the socioeconomic diversity that is a cornerstone of our program.