My mother, a Kindergarten teacher for over 25 years, instilled in me a deep passion for learning. My love for educators grows as a natural extension of that passion. While I have never been a teacher myself – I maintain that I don’t have the fortitude for the job – the bulk of my career as a communicator and marketer has been dedicated to supporting educators and students at every level and in every way possible.
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.
My parents and I would work logic problems when I was little and they always asked me the same questions. How do you know that’s the answer? Can you prove it? I come from a long line of teachers and lawyers, and I draw from both in my work as an educational researcher at the Dana Center. I have my father’s insistence on proof and accuracy, and my mother’s penchant for clearly sharing information.
In my 6 years teaching in Austin-area schools, I worked hard every day to create a caring, inclusive, and empowering classroom community for my students. Now I work on the policies that shape what happens in classrooms in Texas and beyond. One of the reasons that I remain motivated by the mission of the Center—equity, access, and excellence in math and science education—is to ensure that all students can reclaim a place in the community of mathematical learners.
My father spent his career as a math teacher and baseball coach. So, naturally, I began calculating my own stats in little league. My appreciation for data (and baseball) has continued throughout my life. Teaching high school math, including statistics, and continuing into district level work and now as a course program specialist with the Dana Center has allowed me an opportunity to work with some truly inspiring people.
I’m from a military family, so as a child I experienced several different school systems. I’ve worked in education since I graduated college because I believe mathematics is important, accessible and beneficial for everyone if we go about teaching it well. After serving as mathematics coordinator in Pflugerville Independent School District for over 5 years, I joined the Dana Center to work on K–12 mathematics education with even more of my heroes.
As a child living on a pig farm in Clifton, Texas, I was certainly no stranger to the idea of working hard. With such a small school district, I had my mother twice as teacher. She had a poster in her classroom (and used to tell students often), “Your I CAN is more important than your IQ.” I’ve learned firsthand over the years that hard work alone can be fruitless if you don’t also believe you can succeed.
I grew up in a low very income area of Texas, and I have seen first hand how education can break the cycle of poverty and forever change the trajectory of families. For 12 years, I have worked at Greater Texas Foundation, where I have the great honor of helping to improve postsecondary attainment and address inequities in our education systems across the state.