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Sylvan Learning’s Judy Cornell Found Her Passion in the Brand’s Dedication to Helping Children Achieve Educational Excellence

Franchisee Judy Cornell purchased a Sylvan Learning after many years working for a competing education center.

By Allison Stone1851 Contributor
SPONSORED 1:13PM 03/06/20

Judy Cornell of Sylvan Learning purchased the O’Fallon, Illinois center in September of 2019 and celebrated its Grand Re-Opening on November 5, 2019. This opening also came with another huge milestone—the O’Fallon Sylvan having a local owner for the first time in its 16-year history. 

Cornell was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia, where she also attended college at Davis & Elkins College, graduating in 1980 with a degree in marketing and management. She spent her years after college working primarily in retail, eventually landing a job with Sears Portrait Studio where she was promoted to Vice President. 

From retail, she joined Education Station, an early childhood development, education and training program based out of West Allis, Wisconsin. In her time there working as Regional Director, she oversaw the implementation of their programs at schools throughout the state. “At the time, Education Station was working with No Child Left Behind, and was mainly focused on after school programs,” said Cornell. “Interestingly enough, Sylvan actually owned Education Station during my time as Regional Director.”

In 2006, Education Station was sold to Knowledge Learning, and unfortunately for Cornell, the company began to downsize. Cornell reprioritized her personal life and stayed busy with her own family.

In 2009, she officially joined Sylvan. “I was actually approached by a Sylvan owner who I knew from my time with Education Station,” said Cornell. “She owned a Sylvan and wanted my help in St. Louis to get contracts. I agreed, but only to help her during the school year.”

Within that school year, Cornell helped grow Sylvan’s programs from 100 students to 500. She was also able to secure two contracts with two new school districts. “That is really when I found my passion for this company and what I was helping them achieve with children,” Cornell said.

In 2013, No Child Left Behind ended, and Cornell started to transition into working in a different role at Sylvan centers.” I worked first at a Creve Coeur center and signed a million dollar deal for them during my first year,” said Cornell. “I worked in Creve Coeur until 2015 when the O’Fallon Sylvan owner realized that the center needed a boost and they wanted my help.”

Cornell wanted to be on board full time, and in June 2016 she made the permanent move to O’Fallon where she has been ever since. “This has been my passion for a really long time, and I'm happy that the previous location owner saw that in me, and gave me the opportunity to own and run the O’Fallen location,” said Cornell. Cornell will continue to grow the Sylvan brand in the O’Fallen area with a goal to enrich the lives of local children and parents alike as she has done so many times before. With 2019 came a few huge milestones for Sylvan Learning as well—the company celebrated 40 years of industry-leading success in enriching the lives of families across the world.

The startup costs for a Sylvan Learning franchise range from $68,680 to $159,085. The franchise fee is $24,000. To learn more about franchising with Sylvan Learning, visit

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