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Watson Executive-in-Residence Speaker

Sep 28, 2018

Watson Executive-in-Residence Speaker

Credit: Michelle Glitzer. Watson Executive in Residence, Stephen Flavell '04, along with scholarship recipient Sydney Bates '19 and Dr. Thomas Watson '57 after Flavell's lecture.

By Michelle Glitzer ’20, marketing and communications intern

Delaware Valley University welcomed Stephen Flavell ’04 as the fall 2018 Watson Executive-in-Residence (WEIR) speaker on Thursday, Sept. 27.  Each semester a speaker is chosen to present a lecture which exposes students to a professional’s career path and life experiences.  Workshops are provided in the afternoon for students who would like to interact with the speaker and professors.  

A scholarship is also awarded to a student in the business department each semester.  This semester Sydney Bates ’19 received the scholarship, which is funded by Dr. Thomas Watson ‘57. Dr. Watson is one of the founders of Omnicom, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. With a passion for education, Dr. Watson generously awards scholarships each semester and meets one-on-one with students for resume review sessions following the lectures. Bates, the scholarship recipient, introduced the guest speaker.

Stephen Flavell ’04, chief operating officer for the Executive Education Academy Charter School (EEACS) in Allentown, gave his lecture entitled “What Perseverance and 189 Nights in Hotels Does for a Career” to DelVal faculty and students, as well as visiting high school students from the EEACS. Flavell earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from DeVal and his master’s in educational leadership from Walden University.  He said his time at DelVal prepared him for his career in education.  As a wrestler, Flavell developed strong team skills that he continues to apply in his field today.  While a student at DelVal, Flavell completed his internship requirements at Foundations Behavioral Health, which provided him with experience working with children.

Flavell’s first job after graduating was at a school in North Philadelphia where students who violated the code of conduct in their schools were sent. The school became known as one of the rougher schools in the area. 

Flavell worked his way up the corporate ladder in the private education system.  In a private company that supported growth initiatives, owned by a hedge fund, Flavell helped set up programs to intervene in schools.  He learned through his failures and mistakes and became one of the most successful people in his business.  After realizing there was a culture clash in the way the private education hedge fund was being run, Flavell took a risk and left his career to support the charter school movement in Philadelphia.

“Charter schools are incubators for innovation,” said Flavell.  

Flavell said the culture in charter schools is different than public or private school systems. He said charter schools emphasize a “single school culture” in which norms are expected by both faculty and students. Student facilitation makes charter schools “more adept to adapt,” Flavell explained.

Flavell is a self-defined “social entrepreneur who works in the educational space.” His large entrepreneurial spirit causes Flavell to always be thinking about developing new schools.  Flavell is currently affiliated with the following organizations along with EEACS: Executive Education Schools, Capstone Academy, Cottage Seven Academy, and Victory Companies.  

Passion, confidence, and determination have been the keys to Flavell’s success in his career.  He explained that “finding something you are passionate about keeps you motivated.”

Flavell told his audience that he loves his career so much that it often does not feel like work.

“There’s nothing else I want to do,” said Flavell.

His confidence during risky endeavors, specifically when he took on a new career, came from all of the change that Flavell experienced throughout his life.  Flavell dealt with culture shock after moving from a small village in England to a suburb of San Francisco.  Following this major life change, Flavell moved three more times and attended three different high schools. This developed a resiliency that stuck with him throughout his life.

Tenacity and perseverance have been a necessary part of developing schools and working in the charter system. In one year, Flavell spent 189 nights in a hotel (this is more time than many students spend in school in an average school year). Flavell immersed himself in his projects - something that cannot be done without a passion for one’s work.

To end his presentation, Flavell provided his audience with some words of advice. 

“If you can visualize where you want to be, you can make it happen,” said Flavell.

Flavell always knew where he wanted to go and that he wanted to be involved in education.  When he was not satisfied with where he was in his career, he knew he needed to continue to grow. Flavell also encouraged everyone to “take advantage of opportunities.”  

Flavell jumped on the opportunities presented to him, no matter how risky, proving that being open to new opportunities can lead to an unexpected yet rewarding path.