GIVE Center East and GIVE Center West
Years Principal 1994–2002 Steve Bennett (GIVE Center Program Director) 2002–2003 Donna Scott (GIVE Center) 2003–2006 Donna Scott (led both GIVE East and West) 2006–2008 Donna Scott (GIVE East) March 2006–May 2007 Dr. James Kahrs (West) 2007–Feb. 2012 Maryanne Grimes (West) 2008–January 2014 Jay Paschall (East) Feb. 2012–June 2018 Todd Marschke (West) March 2014–2019 Durrant D. Williams (East) July 2018–Present Dr. Donna M. Bishop (West) June 2019–Present Dr. Brandon Bell (East)
The Gwinnett County Board of Education created the Gwinnett InterVention Education, or GIVE, Center in 1994. It began as an initiative funded by a grant received from Georgia’s Alternative Education Program, formerly known as the CrossRoads Alternative Education Program. The GIVE Center serves Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools as an alternative education facility.
Over the years, the GIVE Center has grown and changed. Today, what started as one center housed in an existing high school now has two locations— GIVE East and GIVE West. One thing has remained constant over the years, the GIVE Centers’ focus on serving the educational and behavioral needs of students who exhibit chronic disciplinary problems at their home schools or who are returning to the school environment from a juvenile justice facility.
GIVE was one of the first alternative programs in the state of Georgia. In its early days it served as many as 346 students at a time. Students ranged in age from 11 to 18 years old. The ratio of students to teachers was ideally set to be 15:1, although it was at times higher.
When Collins Hill High School opened in 1994, the GIVE Center began its service housed in a remote corner of the school. At the time, GIVE consisted of two middle school classrooms, one high school classroom, a computer lab, and two trailers. Principal/Coordinator/ Social Worker Steve Bennett, Counselor Tom Heinze, and Administrative Assistant Margie Jones shared an administrative office. The faculty consisted of eight teachers and two paraprofessionals. The staff served a student population of 70 students that first year. Students attended the GIVE Center from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and went a half-day on Fridays.
GIVE remained at Collins Hill for one school year and then relocated to Central Gwinnett High School. GIVE outgrew the six trailers and one classroom allotted on that campus within two years. In the fall of 1997, the GIVE Center relocated to a larger complex shared with Hooper-Renwick. Classrooms were built in an old storage facility for air conditioning and heating units. The bottom floor was finished for the first year. With no kitchen facilities, lunches were bused in from a nearby elementary school. By year two at this location, the upper floor, elevator, and kitchen facilities were added. Students attended classes on an extended day format from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a faculty planning day on Friday. This schedule was eventually discontinued and replaced with the current class schedule.
Donna Scott became the principal of GIVE Center in 2002. And, the 2002–03 school year saw the program’s largest population growth since its start. A “staggered start” was instituted to safely handle the nearly 300 students enrolled in the program. Under the program, students paneled after a certain date completed their last quarter of instruction over the summer.
Due to tremendous growth, the GIVE Center opened a second location in the fall of 2003 housed at Buchanan High School of Technology. This new location was called GIVE West. The original GIVE location remained at Hooper Renwick and was called GIVE East. The district assigned students from specific school clusters to each center in an effort to balance enrollment between the two locations.
For three years, Mrs. Scott led both locations. In 2006, Dr. James Kahrs took the reins of GIVE West, allowing Mrs. Scott to focus on the students and teachers of GIVE East. Dr. Kahrs retired in 2007 and Maryanne Grimes was selected to lead GIVE West. GIVE East was relocated from Hooper Renwick to the facility formerly known as Lawrenceville East located on Hi-Hope Road in Lawrenceville. (The facility was originally Lawrenceville Middle School before it became a location for support personnel.) In 2008, Mr. Jay Paschall, an assistant principal at Parkview High School, was named principal of GIVE East.
In 2012, Principal Grimes left GIVE West to become the principal of Central Gwinnett High School. Todd Marschke, who had been an assistant principal at the school since 2009, was named as her successor. In 2013, Mr. Marschke led the relocation of the school from Buchanan High School of Technology to a new site located at 5550 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Norcross. This move was prompted by the district’s plans to renovate the Buchanan facility for use by Summerour Middle School. The new GIVE Center West facility opened with a projected student enrollment of 250.
GIVE West’s new location was an industrial facility, formerly housing the Maltese Sign Company. In transforming the facility to an educational setting, the decision was made to use portable classrooms to house students and to use the existing facility to provide the media center, gym, computer labs, the administrative offices, a counseling suite, a clinic, and other multipurpose rooms to be used for large gatherings and P.E. classes. Forty-six portable classrooms on raised platforms, connected with walkways and a covered corridor served the students of the school.
In March of 2014, Mr. Paschal retired as principal of GIVE Center East and the Board of Education selected Durrant Williams, the associate principal at Shiloh High School, to lead the school.
In 2018, Mr. Marschke was tapped to lead Pinckneyville Middle School in the Norcross Cluster. Filling the principal vacancy at GIVE Center West would be Dr. Donna M. Bishop who had served as the school’s assistant principal since 2013.
In 2019, Mr. Williams was selected to lead Berkmar High School and Dr. Brandon Bell, an assistant principal from Lilburn Middle School, was tapped as the next leader of GIVE Center East.
Over the years, the GIVE Centers— both East and West— have proven to be schools that focus on student success. Individual needs are addressed through a variety of scheduling strategies and options, including block courses, trailer courses, course acceleration (self-paced), course recovery support, credit recovery support, and academic support courses. The schools have provided support to students in need, so much so, that at times, students request to stay at the GIVE Center locations rather than returning to their home high school.