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Meet Sarah Ottow

Sarah Ottow, founder and lead coach of Confianza and ELLstudents, has dedicated her career to empowering teachers and promoting equity for culturally and linguistically diverse students. She has served as a classroom teacher, an ELL specialist, a district coordinator and a bilingual literacy coach/reading specialist in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico schools.  Sarah has earned a Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instruction focused on social justice in urban education. As an ELL PD Specialist and WIDA Consultant, Sarah works with educators across the country to support their multilingual learners and their families.  

In Spring 2015, Sarah founded Confianza to expand her “circle of influence” by deepening partnerships that improve democratic schooling for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Confianza shares blended professional learning tools to support districts and organizations. Previous to Confianza, Sarah served as ELL Director at the Boston-based non-profit, Center for Collaborative Education, from 2012-2015, where she created the Teacher Leadership Network for ELLs project as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Professional Development Redesign Challenge. She also led the Worcester ELL Teacher Residency Program funded by Race to the Top in partnership with Cambridge College and Worcester Public Schools where over forty-teachers were trained in their teaching certificate and Masters in teaching English as a Second Language. Both of these professional learning projects leveraged digital tools to support teachers, mentors and leaders.

Sarah has earned four teaching certificates: Elementary, English as a Second Language, Reading, Bilingual (Spanish). Her coaching approach is largely drawn from her involvement with the Southeastern Wisconsin New Teacher Project and her classroom-based action research graduate work in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee under Dr. Martin Haberman. Sarah has study and work abroad experiences in the United Kingdom, The People’s Republic of China Special Administrative Regions, Central America and the Caribbean.

Sarah’s practical, action research-based approach for professional development and teacher training has been shared through the following honors, conferences and publications: 

Preparing Teachers to Equitably Serve ELLs in Worcester MA for the Annenberg Institute's Voices in Urban Education's English Language Learners: Shifting to an Asset-Based Paradigm

Featured in GettingSmart's Supporting ELLs with NextGen Tools as a bright spot in the field using digital tools to support ELLs

National Expert for Center for the Applied Linguistics webinar Formative Assessment for English Learners

Invited presenter for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts for national teaching artists program

Guest Coach for Teaching Channel's Academic Language for ELLs course and ELL expert consultant for upcoming Helmsely Foundation ELL-focused project

Improved Student Learning through Teacher Inquiry and Formative Language Assessment for MATSOL's Currents

Supporting English Learners through Formative Assessment guest blogger for GettingSmart

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's College Ready's The Action Research Approach to PD

Practitioner Blogs for Education Resources Consortium

Confianza's blog Stories from the Field

Classroom family immigration project spotlighted on Milwaukee Public Television

Created family literacy programs and summer bookmobile programs for bilingual families

Two-Time Recipient for AmeriCorps Award for National and Community Service for classroom service learning

Conference Presentations: Rethinking School's Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Teaching Conference, WIDA National Conference, National Service Learning Conference, MATSOL State Conference, WI State Reading Association, WI TESOL, MA Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Coalition of Essential School Fall Forum


    Sarah can be reached directly at

    Short bio here.