Danny Jardine, chief operations officer, left, Frances Davis, chief human resources officer and Berney Kirkland, chief of staff with Gwinnett County Public Schools, tour the new GIVE Center West on Thursday in Norcross. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
SUWANEE — The principal of a local alternative school led Gwinnett County Public Schools officials on a tour Thursday of new facilities.
With the GCPS Board of Education in tow, GIVE Center West Principal Todd Marschke walked the halls of the 30,000-square-foot building, which includes 46 trailers housing classrooms, science labs and administration offices.
When it officially opens in August, the space will have about 250 students at its new location: 5550 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Norcross.
Its former location at the old Norcross High School (2595 Beaver Ruin Road, Norcross) will be renovated. Officials plan to use the building, which also housed Gwinnett Online Campus, as the new home of Summerour Middle School.
The new GIVE Center West facility — an old television manufacturing building — also features a training center, which the district may use for orientation and training for students and parents as well as district staff development.
GIVE Center West had been at its former location for about 10 years. The district also has a GIVE Center East and has tentative plans to open a GIVE Center South in coming years.
While a site has not yet been selected, officials with GCPS have said that such a center would assist the district in implementation of an initiative known as the 5-R Project (Rebound, Reconnect, Recovery, Redirect, Rescue).
Department of Academic Support Director James “Jim” Taylor said the project is a proposed model for “providing educational opportunities in an alternative school setting for dropouts and students who are at-risk of dropping out.”
Taylor said that of the more than 1,400 dropouts in Gwinnett County Public Schools between the ages of 16 and 19, many influential factors come in to play. Among them: marriage, financial hardship/job, low grades/school failure, incarceration, pregnant/parent, removed for lack of attendance and unknown reasons.
According to its website, the vision of GIVE Center West is to become “a model alternative school which achieves measurable gains in students’ academic knowledge and skills in order to enable them to make positive behavioral choices, return to their home school, graduate, and become productive citizens.”