Client Profile: Lavek N.

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.  

For more information about Knowledge is Power, e-mail or visit

– Eric Fiedler, Outreach & Development Coordinator


Who Needs a Financial Plan?

Many of us would answer that only the very rich need a financial plan.

But, wait…..we are getting ahead of ourselves. What is a financial plan?

Everyone has done some financial planning in their lives. It could be as simple as saving for a vacation or making certain there is enough cash to cover the bills. Unfortunately, few consider planning out their money over many months or years to reach larger goals or have something for the future.

Everyone should have some sort of a financial plan, regardless of how small their financial world may seem.  One of the important guides in financial planning is the saying, “the young person provides for the old person”. This is a direct look at how one’s retirement income can be planned for when it is needed.  Saving when you are young means having when you are old.

Putting some money aside on a regular basis is the first step to having a plan. We are all capable of saving 10% of our income. This is the historical average for saving. Putting $5 a week away becomes a good amount of money quicker than one might think.  It is a habit that needs to be started sooner rather than later and requires taking some specific steps to assure the plan succeeds.

First, open a savings account at an institution that is easy for you to get to.  In today’s world working with a Credit Union is often a better way to save than with a regular bank.   Why?  Credit Unions are not for profit corporations. This means they charge fewer fees. The fees they may charge are usually lower than a regular bank.  They often give higher interest rates on money in a savings account. Credit Unions usually provide all of the same services a bank does.

Why is there this difference? A Credit Union does not have stock holders to whom a dividend must be paid so any profit can be put back into the Credit Union.  A bank usually has stockholders who expect to be paid a dividend every three months and a Board of Directors that usually receive a payment for serving on the board.

Once a savings account is opened, plan on depositing a minimum amount each payday.  Have your employer make a direct deposit to your savings account.  Automatic savings are the most successful way to save. This also means you do not have to go to the bank to make the deposit.

Someone once asked me, “Why save, seems I have to use it all the time.” Well, that is one reason to save; so there is money available if needed in an emergency. Ideally, saving has two different purposes:  saving for short term or an emergency and saving for long term, like retirement or a large purchase in the future.  Regardless of the reason, saving makes sense.

– Colleen M Moynihan, M Ed, CLU, CMFC
Director, NEBA Business Development Center