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Director wants group to mentor, educate
Working together to help children
Stephen Deraney Photo1
Stephen Deraney - photo by Submitted

To learn more about Mentor Me North Georgia and how to get involved, call (678) 341-8028 or visit
Mentor Me North Georgia’s new executive director believes his background in education will be an asset.

Stephen Deraney took over the role in February, after having spent some 32 years as a special education teacher and technical college president in middle Georgia and most recently Gwinnett County.

“This [job] felt like a natural move for me after I moved out of education,” Deraney said. “[Mentor Me] is an extension of education.

“Working with special ed and at a technical college, in both of those areas, you’re working with people who need a little extra help or who’re not the traditional population. Here we’re working with kids who need a little extra help through good role models.”

The mission of Mentor Me North Georgia, formally a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, is to serve at-risk school age children and youth by providing them with positive role models to help them grow into healthy and productive adult members of the society and community.

Deraney said Mentor Me has about 50 active mentorship matches and about seven children on a waiting list.

The organization separated from Big Brothers Big Sisters two years ago, a move Deraney said was a good one. He noted that as part of the national organization, the group had to follow specific and limiting regulations.

“We’re able to have a lot more flexibility now and do a lot more,” he said, noting the nonprofit receives support from the local United Way, an executive governing board and several Forsyth businesses.

While the organization’s primary function still is to provide one-on-one adult mentors to children ages 6-17, Deraney said the separation from Big Brothers Big Sisters has allowed it to provide a broader range of services.

As director, he has begun planning several new outreaches.

“My goal is to continue to expand the mentoring program, while adding new programs,” he said.

One of those is a six-week summer camp for elementary school students whose primary language is not English. He’s working with the local school system to plan the camp.

He also hopes to establish an after-school program to provide academic support for elementary and middle school students who need extra help.

“[Providing academic support] is something that’s dear and near to me as an educator,” he said.

The program is in the early planning stages. Deraney said it would most likely start off working with just one elementary and one middle school.

In the long term, Deraney hopes to establish a scholarship fund for Mentor Me students who want to continue their education after high school.

But in the short term, his primary desire is just to get the word out about the program to gain more community support.

“Mentoring is broader than just one-on-one mentoring,” he said. “It involves all of us working together to help kids.”

Deraney lives in Flowery Branch with his wife, Anita. They have two grown sons and two school-age daughters.