April 19, 2012 Leave a comment
Lavek was born and raised in the Forest Park section of Springfield, Mass. At the age of 23 he moved to Texas for a teaching position, and he returned to Springfield four years later to take a special education position in a self-contained behavior classroom. Lacking strong staff support, Lavek developed his own strategies to help students curb negative behaviors and focus on their positive traits. “Within the education system, I found that I was able to work effectively with behaviorally challenged students,” he said.
When other teachers noticed Lavek’s success, they sent him their behaviorally-challenged students. Using techniques based on respect, trust, and positive feedback, Lavek continued to see positive changes in the students he worked with. His approach worked in a variety of settings, until he took a position in Central Massachusetts where negative discipline was encouraged. “I found it difficult to work under those conditions, and that’s when I realized I could better help students if I started my own business.”
The mission of Lavek’s new business venture was to encourage educators to show respect for their students, build their trust, and steadily achieve positive change. “I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to go about doing it,” he said. Lavek struggled for years, trying to get his business going, and when he arrived at the NEBA Business Development Center (BDC) his confidence was shaken. “I came in defeated,” he said. He credits the Center and its director, Colleen Moynihan, with providing the mentoring and encouragement he needed to complete his business plan and successfully launch his business, “Knowledge is Power”.
With the BDC’s guidance and support, Knowledge is Power went from a single focus to offering multiple services, including anti-bullying workshops, one-on-one teacher and student consultations, and comprehensive work with failing schools in Western Mass. In addition to operating his business, Lavek continues to practice what he preaches by teaching a class of behaviorally-challenged high school students in Springfield. “Focusing on unity and respect helps to create a more positive learning environment,” he said.
- Eric Fiedler, Outreach & Development Coordinator