Sara Cotner, Founder, Montessori For All

Sara Cotner has cultivated broad and deep insight into educational reform as a Teach For America national staff member, the founder of an independent consulting firm, an adjunct professor, and a teacher in various environments, including charter, traditional districts, and public Montessori. She began her career in education as an AmeriCorps volunteer who recruited and trained reading tutors for the public school system. After witnessing the achievement gap firsthand, she decided to join Teach For America to help work toward a solution. In her three years in rural Louisiana, she ensured that 100% of students advanced at least two years in reading, founded the Community Action and Responsibility Education Team, and received a state teacher of the year award. She moved to Houston to work at the original KIPP school to help economically-disadvantaged children get to college. She ensured that 99% of her students passed the state assessment and increased Commended scores from 18 to 57 percent. Looking for a truly transformational approach to education that would not only help children get to college but would help them get through college and succeed in the ever-changing global economy—in addition to becoming agents of change in their families and communities—Sara found her way to Montessori. She is an AMS-certified Montessori educator who helped 100% of her students pass the TAKS test in a public Montessori program in Houston. She started Montessori For All in 2011 to help children in diverse communities gain access to a high-performing, authentic Montessori school.

Macleay Martinez, Principal, Redbud Montessori For All

Macleay Martinez served as a founding member of Magnolia Montessori For All in Austin, TX, the flagship Montessori For All campus. She is serving as the Principal-in-Residence for the 2016-2017 school year to prepare for the opening of Rebud Montessori For All in August 2017. At Magnolia, Macleay previously served as a lower elementary lead guide with first, second, and third graders, while also acting as the Elementary Team Teacher Dean and serving on the Leadership Team. She earned her Elementary Montessori certification from the Association Montessori Internationale and has worked in both private and public Montessori schools. She is committed to the idea that all aspects of the child’s development are equally important. She supports students’ lifelong love of learning by nourishing their intellect, social skills, and imagination in an environment where the child has both freedoms and responsibilities that help prepare them for their future.

Brigid Peña, Community & School Operations Manager, Redbud Montessori For All

Brigid Peña joined Montessori For All after working in educational reform as a Teach For America national admissions team staff member for four years managing the organization’s financial aid program. Previous to her work on Teach For America staff, Brigid was a teacher placed through Teach For America in Oklahoma. She taught public school high school English and junior high reading, leading 91% of her students to two or more years of reading growth. She relished developing relationships with her students as cheer coach and National Junior Honors Society adviser. She held a weekly after school reading hour that encouraged learning about nutrition and healthy eating. She is serving as the Community & School Operations Manager for the 2016-2017 school year to prepare for the opening of Redbud Montessori For All in August 2017 where she will be the Director of Operations & Compliance. Brigid strongly believes that a high quality, academically rigorous, and diverse Montessori model is the educational pathway to build the next generation of strong leaders in San Antonio.