Leadership Team

Sara Cotner, Founder & CEO

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.

Sarah Kirby Tepera, COO

Sarah Kirby Tepera has experience with foundations, schools, teacher management, and with large, effective non-profit organizations in the ed reform space. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, she began her career as a bilingual 5th grade teacher in Houston, TX, as part of Teach For America. Sarah went on to earn her Master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas and in 2004 became a program officer for the Texas High School Project (THSP), a $261 million partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Texas Education Agency, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Communities Foundation of Texas. During her tenure at THSP, she designed and managed programs for a $13.6 million grant for education leadership initiatives and teacher recruitment, development, and retention. She also worked with senior leadership in three large Texas districts to develop a comprehensive leadership development program focused on governance and district-level policies. She also served as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Teach For America, where she managed the development of internal infrastructure to support improved external partnerships, regional program accreditation and compliance to national and state regulations.