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Empowering South Florida students

We help students lacking resources or needing extra expertise to prepare and compete.

Rhizophora was founded by seasoned orthographer and high-school student Simone Kaplan to make spelling accessible and appealing to South Florida students.

Our mission is to encourage students to participate in spelling bees, which helps them gain lifelong literacy skills, self-confidence, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Official Pronouncer Of The Miami Herald Spelling Bee

Our Founder

Simone Kaplan is a championship speller who grew up in Davie, Florida. From a very young
age Simone had an insatiable appetite for reading, language, and spelling.
Simone competed three times in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, advancing twice to the
primetime finals and finishing as the 2019 runner-up.

When the Bee was cancelled in 2020, Simone set on a path to encourage and teach the next
generation of spellers to follow in her footsteps.

Simone has been featured on ESPN, Vice News, and Nightly News with Lester Holt, and has
published an op-ed in The Guardian. Today Simone is a student at Archbishop McCarthy High School who plans to pursue a career in ecological research and conservation.

Our Name

Rhizophora is the scientific name of Florida’s red mangrove. Like most taxonomic
names, Rhizophora comes from Greek roots. In this case the roots are rhizos meaning “root”
and phora meaning “bearer.” Overall, our name encapsulates our service to the South Florida
area as well as our emphasis on teaching Greek and Latin roots as a spelling skill.