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Confianza: Educating for ELL Equity

Founded in 2015 by Sarah Ottow, Confianza is Boston-based consulting organization that promotes actionable, research-based schooling practices that increase access to high standards and equitable outcomes for English Language Learners (ELLs). 

ELLstudents is Confianza’s e-commerce site for sharing our professional learning tools, modules and courses both nationally and internationally, in response to the growing need to provide educators with anytime, anywhere professional development for serving ELLs.

Our Vision

Confianza envisions an educational landscape where teachers and administrators are offered personalized coaching and engaging professional learning opportunities that support effective classroom practices and collaborative learning for students and educators. We build on strong relationships between students, teachers, leaders and advocates to promote a multicultural democracy for all.

Our Work and Partners

Confianza provides technical assistance, professional development and coaching services directly to educational organizations, state educational agencies, school districts and individual educators with the goal of closing the opportunity gap and improving outcomes for ELLs. We have supported over 20 Massachusetts school districts and nearly 1000 individual educators in dozens of districts across five states.

Confianza’s partners include:

  • ELLstudents: Confianza’s e-commerce site offers practical, application-based professional learning courses, tools, and modules on ELL competencies
  • Center for Applied Linguistics: coaching for Enhancing Education Connections project funded by WestEd & the Bill & Melinda  Gates Foundation
  • WIDA Consortium: training provider for  WIDA ELD Standards Framework professional development nationwide
  • Lawrence Public Schools, MA: coaching and technical assistance for ENLACE 9th Grade Newcomer Academy
  • Teaching Channel:  design and facilitate professional development course on academic language for ELLs on the
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and MATSOL: technical assistance for model curriculum units and assessments
  • BetterLesson’s TeachCycle: technical assistance for supporting ELL growth and teaching challenges
  • WI Center for Education Products & Services: oversee WIDA PRIME V2 instructional materials correlation

Our Team

Sarah Ottow, founder and lead coach of Confianza, has dedicated her career to promoting equity for culturally and linguistically diverse students. She has been a classroom teacher, an ELL specialist, district coordinator and bilingual coach in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico schools. As a Certified WIDA Trainer and ELL PD Specialist, Sarah works with educators across the country to increase the performance of their English learners.  Read Sarah's Full Bio

Irene Logan, Confianza Coach, is a former Principal, Facilitator and ESL teacher. Irene enjoys working collaboratively with teachers and district leadership to better serve ELLs. Irene’s mission continues to be focusing on collaborative teacher networks that understand the importance of cultural awareness in teaching and learning to increase student learning. Irene holds a B.S. in Elementary Education, M.Ed. in English as a Second Language and M.Ed. in Leadership and Administration. She is a certified RETELL SEI Endorsement instructor in Massachusetts for both the teacher and administration courses.

Marisa Nathan, Confianza Coach, has sixteen years of experience in education with expertise in teaching second language learners, instructional coaching, collaborating, professional development and presentation, working with inner city school children, and differentiating lessons to meet the needs of many levels of learners in the classroom. Marisa works full-time as an ESL instructional coach in the School District of Waukesha, WI and consults for Confianza part-time.  Her philosophy focuses on what assets students and their families bring to school and what students can do. Marisa has a degree in elementary education and recently completed her Master’s degree in ESL in the spring of 2016 from Hamline University.  

Marjorie Kirstein, Confianza Coach, has worked in bilingual and English as a Second Language education for over 30 years as a teacher, coordinator, and instructional coach, and has taught ESL at every level from Grade 1 to adult. Her expertise is in tailoring instruction to the needs of students with limited or interrupted formal education and supporting teachers in delivering both ESL and sheltered instruction. Marjorie holds a B.S. in English, M.A. in Applied Linguistics and Ed.D in Leadership in Urban Schools. She is also a certified RETELL SEI Teacher Endorsement instructor in Massachusetts.

Angela Sangeorge served as Executive Director of Curriculum and Literacy for the Boston Public Schools. Previously, she was a Research Associate with RMC Research Corporation, serving as Project Director for Operations for The Reading First Technical Assistance Center and oversaw the delivery of technical assistance to states. She has served as Director of the Office of Literacy at the Ohio Department of Education supervising statewide literacy policies and initiatives, including professional development opportunities and resources to support teachers of English language learners K-12. Angela’s other experiences include directing the Annenberg Acceleration Grant, an early literacy grant, for the School District of Philadelphia and serving as Reading/Language Arts Supervisor for the Connecticut State Department of Education where she helped to establish state curriculum standards and assessments of those standards. Angela is co-author of the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation (ELLCO) published by Brookes Publishing Company.

Jill Ottow, Confianza’s Executive Assistant/Business Manager and the proud mother of Sarah Ottow, brings 35 years of business and non-profit experience to Confianza. For fourteen years, Jill was the award-winning Executive Director of the Jefferson County Literacy Council, an adult literacy and English as a second language organization serving nine communities. As a mother of a child with special needs, Jill has worked for decades with public schools and health providers to build coalitions toward coordinated care systems and inclusion of special education students both in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Throughout her career, Jill managed accounting and human resources for a several small businesses, and as an advocate committed to the values of a strong family and literacy, Jill believes that the collaboration of a group on a focused purpose can result in system change for the greater good.

Contact Confianza

To inquire about Confianza services, please contact us at:

Phone: (617) 419-0089
Mail: PO Box 540632, Waltham MA 02454
Twitter: @ELL_Confianza