SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Students at DeRenne Middle School are elevating their minds this school year, thanks to the expansion of a free mentoring program.

Elevate Savannah is teaching local students critical skills, for their next phases of life and learning. The lessons learned inside this classroom at Derenne Middle School go far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

“Like, what we should do in life, like goals, leadership, respect, communication, stuff like that,” said Jordan Newton, DeRenne Middle School 8th grader.

Through a curriculum focused on mutual support and respect, Elevate Savannah is preparing these 7th and 8th graders for high school and beyond.

“Elevate helps me to like understand what’s going to be in high school,” said 8th grader, Tamia Dunham. “Like, I already know the expectations, the grades, and what I need to do to get into college,” (02:12)

Founded in 2019 and launched at Beach High School in the spring of 2020, Elevate Savannah caught the eye of DeRenne principal Tammy Broadnex last year.

“I saw the value of having a program embedded into your school,” Broadnax said. “If they see that a child is failing a class, immediately, they’re having those one-on-one mentoring sessions with the students, so they’re talking to them right away.”

That one-on-one time is fundamental to Elevate Savannah’s goals.

Executive Director Crystal Auguste said each teacher/mentor is there to provide what may be missing in other parts of these students’ lives.

“A lack of hope, or a caring adult,” Auguste said.

Elevate Savannah also provides peer mentoring to connect middle schoolers with high schoolers and resources for students’ families, to help with issues like not having enough food at home. and it’s all free.

“We have a great donor base. It is 100% privately funded by local men and women who believe in the mission and vision of elevate,” Auguste said. 

Now, Elevate Savannah serves 75 students at DeRenne Middle School and 90 students and Beach High School and they have plans to expand even further.

If you want to learn more about the program, or to make a donation, click or tap here.