New teachers keep up with kids in and out of classroom

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4 Fast Facts

  • New type of educators spends time in and out of classroom with students
  • IPS superintendent said program was effective in Orlando and decide to bring it to Indy
  • Teachers serve as educators and mentors for students
  • Local businesses pay for the unique program

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- There is a new type of educator making their way into Indianapolis Public School classrooms.  The group is working to keep kids off the streets, getting them to graduate and to become successful adults who will help our community.

Kendia Lovelady, a sophomore at Arsenal Tech High School, is taking this special and unique class right now.

“It just teaches you about being a better person and how to transform to an ideal adult,” Lovelady said.

She even hangs out with teachers like Tia Swain outside of class.

“They keep you on track with school as well as your personal life.”

That outside classroom time happens because Swain is a teacher mentor with ELEVATE, a program that helps build character so students have a positive plan for the future.

“We also, outside of class, and in the summers and Christmas and spring breaks, spend time with our students,” said Swain.  “So it’s kind of a mix doing the work of an outside social worker, mentor.”

Dr. Lewis Ferebee got to see ELEVATE in Orlando, turning around one school district there.  He thought it would be perfect for IPS students.

“They are managing very challenging, difficult situations,” said Ferebee.  “They need a caring adult in their life.”

ELEVATE Indianapolis President Jim Shaffer said these teacher mentors don’t cost IPS any money.

“We put privately funded teacher mentors in urban classrooms,” said Shaffer, who revealed that local businesses are the ones stepping in to give the funds.  “They see the benefits of what it’s doing for kids.”

Swain was also a teacher mentor in Orlando, where she watched more kids graduate and go to college.  Now she’s focused on helping IPS and has high hopes.

When asked if she could see changes in IPS, Swain responded, “I know it can happen.  It will happen.”

Right now there are only three teacher mentors, but IPS and ELEVATE would like to have more by next year.  Fundraising is underway, and among the board members is former Colts player Gary Brackett.  He and the other members are working to secure more local businesses who want to help IPS students to succeed.

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