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School District Executive Expands Community Impact With Sylvan Learning Franchise

Dr. Marty Conner will open his Indian Land, South Carolina Sylvan Learning Center, on August 26, increasing academic support in the community.

After decades of knowing about Sylvan Learning, a leading supplemental education franchise, Dr. Marty Conner invested in the brand. Conner first learned of Sylvan in college when he worked in a local center as a tutor over the summer. Growing up with a family of educators, he has also held classroom education, coaching, school-level leadership and district-level leadership roles. Now, his newest venture is becoming an owner. His Sylvan Learning Center is set to open at 8356 Charlotte Hwy, Suite 102, on August 26. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Conner: This is my 24th year in education. I've served in a number of roles — leadership roles, primarily. Over the last 20 years, I was a high school principal, middle school principal, science teacher, football coach and assistant superintendent, and I recently started to serve as an executive director for the local school district here. So I've been in education for quite some time. It's pretty much a family passion; my mom was an educator, my sister was a principal and my grandmother was a teacher. I come from a long history of educators, and I love to provide academic support and opportunities for kids to be successful in education.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Conner: I had a general understanding of the concept or working knowledge, but I had never been a franchise owner. When I came across the opportunity to become a franchise owner, I wasn’t really looking for an opportunity. It was more happenstance for me. But when that happened, I knew the concept of franchising.

Sylvan actually became an opportunity that I looked into when I was in an executive role and utilized Sylvan services and saw the immediate academic impact for the children and the district. I followed back up with the franchise owner to get some more information about Sylvan services, products and the franchise. They connected me with the franchise development coordinator, and I became more enlightened about the opportunity. That was about seven years ago, so it’s been a long journey for me to get here. It’s more so about timing than anything else.  With the educational space, it’s about getting in at the right time to open up a center in the community.

I think franchising presents a tremendous opportunity to do what you love under a model that’s been proven. When you partner with a franchise like Sylvan, in the educational space, certainly Sylvan is the premier tutoring service in the nation, so it’s a model that has been proven. It allows you to have some independence while also having a structure that will set you up for success.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Conner: I think it's the philosophy that learning is personal — individualized learning for students based on their skill set. As an educator, knowing that that’s really how you provide academic support to young people, identify their unique skill sets and foster that development in different areas, it was important that Sylvan had that model.

When we talk about tutoring service in an academic space, throughout the school, as I said earlier, Sylvan is that premier franchise. Doing this kind of work, I want to be a partner with the best, and Sylvan had that franchise model and proven track record.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Conner: Primarily, I want to be a service to our community and provide those academic opportunities to enrich our families and students for long-term academic success. Certainly, for me, growing the business is doing what I need to do to become a pillar in the community. Growing the business as a community partner and service organization is my primary goal while also having a business opportunity that sets me up for long-term success as I approach retirement.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Conner: There’s a three-strand story that’s going on here. I actually became a tutor with Sylvan in college about 25 years ago. Back in the early ‘90s, I worked one summer with Sylvan. That was my first introduction to the brand.

I was introduced again in 2016 when I was in that executive role. We partnered with a Sylvan franchise owner to execute a contract that provided tremendous growth for our kids in the district.

Now, almost seven years later, we’ve waited for the right timing, right space and right location for what we knew would be a successful Sylvan, and here I am. I think that’s a testament to my perseverance, my passion, my belief in the children and the Sylvan model, and Sylvan’s commitment to stay the course and find what was best for Sylvan and the franchisee.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Conner: Make sure that you have a true understanding of the business model or what you're endeavoring to obtain. Do your research on the industry you are pursuing, and make sure that you have a unique understanding of the franchise itself. There are certainly a lot of franchises out there, so having a unique understanding of the specific franchise you're researching and making sure it fits your personal beliefs, your passions and your philosophies of how you operate as a business owner is crucial.

The total initial investment required to begin the operation of a Sylvan Learning franchise is $85,525–$186,930. To find out more information on costs to buy this franchise, please visit


With more than 40 years of experience and more than 710 points of presence, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan also leads the way with Sylvan EDGE — STEM and accelerated courses and Sylvan Prep — college and test prep courses. Sylvan supports families through every stage of the academic journey. Sylvan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Franchise Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRG). For more information, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.