Doni Fernandez, PSJA ISD

My name is Doni Fernandez. I was born and raised in Iloilo, Philippines and I moved to the United States after graduating college. After working in the retail industry in California for a couple of years, I felt that I needed a change of environment and with a degree in Electronics Engineering, I was encouraged to teach mathematics in high school.


After a couple of months, I found myself moving to the valley and teaching my first Algebra 1 class. I had a hard time adjusting at first, primarily with the language and culture, but as I went along, I was able to learn from my coworkers how to handle my classes and teach better. I can’t believe that was 8 years ago and I can say that teaching is a rewarding experience and I want to keep improving. It’s very fulfilling when students thank me for helping them pass their exams or just saying that it’s the best class they’ve ever had.


I feel privileged to be in this program and I’m looking forward to learning how to make my lessons more relevant to my students and inspire them to become better thinkers and solvers in the future.

Manuel Rodriguez, La Joya ISD


I was born on April, 1978 in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Graduating from High school in 1996, I enrolled and spent the next four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I majored in mathematics and history, while playing college football for the Badgers.


In 2001, I graduated and began my career in education via Teach-for-America. As a member of Teach for America, I was placed in E.L. FURR High School in Houston Texas. As a first year teacher, I quickly realized that my passion for teaching involved working with “At-Risk” youth. 


For the last 15 years I have dedicated my craft as an educator to help students see their true potential and I have worked hard to push them to aspire for greater levels of education. 

Oscar Santos, PSJA ISD


My name is Oscar Servando Santos.  I was born in Laredo, Texas and moved with my family to the Rio Grande Valley at the age of 3, where I have lived most of my life.  My passion for mathematics dates back to my childhood when I was learning multiplication tables. I initially pursued an undergraduate degree in actuarial science but ultimately changed to Social Work in 2009. 


I spent the next 4 years working with children for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.  Throughout this time I returned to school to obtain a Master’s of Science degree in Social Work.  In 2013, I decided to pursue a career in education and obtained my teaching certification for High School Mathematics. 


My first two years in the classroom provided me with wonderful learning experiences.  In my third year, I look forward to further advancing my knowledge in the field of mathematics as well as my skills in the classroom, so that I may provide a quality education to my students in helping them prepare for college.

Harvard Class of 2018 

Cohort IV