I am the product of three generations of teachers on one side of my family and three generations of ranchers on the other. From the former, I inherited a passion for reading and a tendency to question everything. From the latter, an appreciation of hard work, nature and the contributions that people in all walks of life make to the world. The result is a love of learning and a burning desire to change the world that has fueled my 28-year (and counting) career in mathematics education.
I taught middle school and high school science for 29 years, working in the Austin and Round Rock independent school districts. In the Austin ISD, I taught middle school science at Dobie Middle School for 20 years before moving to the science academy at the LBJ Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) where I taught biology, Advanced Placement biology, and earth sciences. In Round Rock ISD, I taught environmental systems, AP environmental science, biology, and AP biology.
My unlikely journey from college dropout to a Master’s degree helped me understand the difficult and unorthodox pathways students take to realize their true passions. Since I began work in education policy over 18 years ago, my passion for helping students successfully navigate the path through college to a career that provides both fulfillment and social mobility has not wavered.
At 10 I received my first chemistry set and a designated “lab space” in the basement. Thanks to the support and encouragement of a few dedicated teachers, I was the first in my family to go to college, earning a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago. Eventually, I packed up my beakers and Petri dishes to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math education programs and policy—here I found my life’s work, and I have never looked back.
For the last 15 years, I’ve been working at the postsecondary level, teaching developmental and college-level mathematics as well as teacher prep courses before taking a role at the Dana Center, where I work with outstanding math faculty on curriculum and pedagogy.
My career has been guided by the strong belief that each child—no matter his or her background—should have access to high-quality mathematics curriculum and instruction and should benefit from the educational materials, professional learning, leadership, and policies necessary to succeed in postsecondary study. As director of K–12 education strategy, policy, and services at the Center, I lead and support our K–12 services, online course programs, and digital platform services teams.
Frank Savina grew up in El Paso, Texas but likes spending as much free time as possible visiting family in Italy with his wife Ivette. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and math. Frank and Ivette are the adoptive parents to 2 children—11-year old Anna, and 13-year old Matt, and they share a house with Anna and Matt’s mom, Patty.
My passion for education began in sixth grade through my experiences with a caring, passionate teacher, Mrs. Ivie. After high school, I attended Eastfield Community College, in Mesquite, Texas. As a first-generation college student with limited financial resources and family support, I was embraced by Eastfield’s faculty and staff, who encouraged, supported, and pushed me to pursue my educational goals.
I am a social worker—both by profession and at heart. Helping families and their children who are experiencing poverty and homelessness is truly a passion, and I’ve dedicated my life to it for over 35 years. I have witnessed remarkable progress in that time, and I have seen countless lives changed.