|Behind every successful company there are the visionaries, those in whom a fresh idea was born. |
Knowing about the real folks behind the scenes is a reminder that choices made by ordinary people can make a positive difference in education.
The faces you see on this page represent some of the key people who have made Saxon Publishing the bellwether in results-oriented teaching for math, and now also for phonics.
John Saxon was born in Georgia in 1923 and graduated from high school in Athens, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia prior to enlisting in the Army. In 1943, after seeing active duty in the Army Air Corps, he was appointed to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in Engineering. He was stationed at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, and began his teaching career as a flight instructor.
During the Korean war, Saxon flew 55 combat missions in a B-26 Night Intruder. He flew five years as a test pilot for the Air Force. In 1961 he received his master's degree in electrical engineering and transferred to the Air Force Academy in Colorado, where for five years he taught electrical engineering. He was assigned to Task Force ALPHA in Vietnam and again flew missions before his retirement in 1970 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
At the time of his retirement, Saxon was living in Norman, Oklahoma. He began teaching algebra classes at Oscar Rose State College in Oklahoma City, where he initiated groundwork for Saxon Publishers. From 1980, Saxon authored or co-authored nine of the kindergarten-through-high-school series textbooks.
Dr. Frank Wang
In 1980 16-year-old high school student Frank Wang responded to an employment request from John Saxon, who was engaged in writing his first textbook. Wang fulfilled numerous duties for Saxon, including serving as "gopher" and eventually rising to the task of assisting with the writing, proofreading, and editing of the textbooks. His employment was interrupted when he graduated from high school and enrolled at Princeton to study math. At this time, his goal was to follow in his father's footsteps and become a professor.
Wang received his bachelor's degree four years later and enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to do his graduate work. After a year at MIT, Wang was once again sought out by Saxon, who wanted assistance in writing a calculus text for the high school level. Wang consented, left MIT for one year, and in 1988 was published as co-author of the Saxon Calculus text. Upon the book's completion, Wang once again resumed his mathematics studies and continued his path to becoming a professor. Shortly before completing his doctorate in pure mathematics, Wang was again approached by Saxon. This time, Saxon asked him to consider coming back to the Norman-based company and assume its daily leadership and management. After much deliberation, Wang accepted the offer, and upon receving his doctorate degree, in 1991 became the company's first vice president.
Wang is active in all areas of the company. His most notable accomplishments include expanding the product line to include phonics, developing the company's organizational and management infrastructure, and establishing a company-wide budgeting system. He also manages to schedule numerous speaking engagements and is available for interviews and requests from the media.
Since the death of John Saxon in October 1996, Wang has served as Chairman of the Board, as well as functioning as the president and CEO from 1996 until 2001. He is dedicated to preserving John Saxon's memory and ideology of turning around mathematics education in America, and strives to continue the spirit and enthusiasm of the company while leading the way towards continued growth and development.
Lorna Simmons, a successful classroom reading teacher, developed the Phonics Intervention program and the K-2 phonics series after developing materials to remedy her own son's reading difficulties. Her success in the classroom prompted other teachers to request Lorna's materials. Saxon Publishers contacted her to see whether she would be interested in sharing her curriculum. Both philosophically and structurally, it was a perfect fit.
Stephen Hake was developing teaching materials for his own middle school students when, in 1983, he happened to see one of Saxon's secondary texts. He was surprised to find that it contained a methodology similar to his own. He wrote a letter to John Saxon, who wrote back asking him to assist in the creation of a middle school series. They went on to coauthor Math 54, Math 65, Math 76, and Math 87.
From 1988 to 1991 Nancy Larson wrote and tested the original primary mathematics series. Assisted by a dedicated team of teachers, she applied the technique of incremental development to elementary topics. With a unique understanding of the relationship between instruction and classroom management, she perfected the teacher-friendly scripted format Saxon users have come to expect.