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Board Member Inspired to Help Students Avoid Math Struggles

Don Garcia

MIND Research Institute recently welcomed Don Garcia, owner and founder of Irvine-based Pinnacle Consulting Group, to its Board of Directors. Garcia’s previous board service includes the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, California State Fund, Hispanic 100, National Latino Coalition Foundation, Por Mi Futuro, and the YMCA of Orange County. He has been honored for his work as a mentor to individual gang members through Santa Ana’s Project PRIDE program.

Garcia, pictured here with his wife, Wendy, recently answered some questions for us about why he decided to get involved with MIND Research.

Q. How did you hear about MIND Research Institute?

I first became aware of MIND Research Institute through its chairman of the board, Ted Smith. He approached me and invited me to tour a few schools and observe the results of their math program. I instantly became a big fan of MIND Research, and I am very impressed with the success and impact it has had not only in Orange County, but across the country. It is phenomenal.

Q. What appeals to you about its mission?

Its ability to reach out to students. Not only to develop their mathematical skills but to encourage them to learn, giving them an opportunity, and giving them hope and inspiration.

Q. Describe your reaction the first time you saw students using ST Math in a classroom.

I toured a school in Santa Ana, and I was most amazed by how the students were so disciplined, focused and energized about learning math.

Q. As a financial services professional, you obviously have a strong background in math. What do you like most about math?

I like the challenge of solving problems.

Q. Did you ever face struggles with math as a student? How did you overcome them?

I absolutely did. My childhood education was in a less affluent area of California. I struggled with the process of learning math. The teaching of math was not very effective, and it did not acknowledge my style of learning. I always felt like a square fitting into a circle. I was a good student and I struggled with math, but I made it through. It was in college where I was able to enjoy math and focus specifically on finance — that’s where it clicked for me, and I became an enthusiast of mathematics.

That’s what I admire about MIND Research Institute. It’s fascinating to see these students begin to enjoy math at a much earlier age than I did, giving them hope and an opportunity to succeed.

Q. What would your advice be to young students interested in pursuing careers in math?

Work hard, work smart and be disciplined.

Q. What do you see as the most pressing issue in education in the U.S. today?

Providing the students with the skills to learn and function in the workplace. Students are not being taught to listen, to think about the problem, to understand the problem, or to develop a solution on their own. I see schools geared toward attaining high scores and not necessarily improving the students' ability to resolve and think on their own.

Q. How do you hope to work with MIND Research Institute to address this issue?

My hope is that MIND Research Institute’s approach to math education will help develop a student’s joy of math and the ability to strategically solve problems.

You can help support MIND Research Institute’s work in schools
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MIND Research Institute welcomes guest blogs that highlight best practices in math education, blended learning and innovative learning strategies that inspire students at all ages.


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