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Hall County Schools receives $2.4 million donation from local philanthropists
Ivester Foundation to support Early College, Teacher of the Year
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Hall County Board of Education Chairman Nath Morris, left, shakes hands with Lynn Darby, President of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation Monday evening at the Hall County School Board Office after signing an agreement to accept the foundations donation of $2.2 million to support the Early College at Jones, a dual-enrollment program located in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation will contribute $2.2 million to support the Early College at Jones, a dual-enrollment program located in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville. 

An additional $10,000 will go toward sponsoring the Teacher of the Year Banquet, and $10,000 will be presented to the Teacher of the Year for the next 10 years. 

The Hall County Board of Education announced the commitment from Doug Ivester during the work session on Monday, Aug. 12. Ivester is the director of the foundation, a former executive of The Coca-Cola Co. and a New Holland native.

The funding will be used to improve medical science facilities, expand program accessibility to Hall County residents and provide operational support to the Early College program. 

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Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield applauds Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at the Hall County School Board Office where he announced the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation's donation of $2.2 million to support the Early College at Jones, a dual-enrollment program located in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The program will also assume a new name, Howard E. Ivester Early College, in honor of Ivester’s father who died Oct. 5, 2008. 

During the work session on Monday, a couple of students from the Early College and its dean, Michele Hood, expressed their appreciation for the program and all of the community members who help it thrive. 

“For our board, for our college partners and for now the Ivester Foundation, please know that your commitment to Early College ignites our community through the empowerment of our Hall County students and families,” Hood said.

Carragan Moody, a senior at Chestatee High School, spoke at the meeting of how she found her place at the Early College junior year. 

Her dream is to become a nurse practitioner for geriatrics, and in the past school year, she completed her certification as a nursing assistant. Through the program, Moody is on her way to earning an associates degree this school year. 

“It truly has been my saving grace and will continue to help so many others like me who are looking to find their puzzle piece and where it fits,” Moody said. 

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A photo of Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester are shown on the scree Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at the Hall County Board office during the announcement of Ivester Foundation's donation of $2.2 million to support the Early College at Jones, a dual-enrollment program located in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Ivester and his wife, Kay, are known throughout Hall County for their philanthropy in education. In late 2017 they contributed $3.5 million in gifts to Brenau University’s health science programs. 

“To see a local couple who has gone out into the world, experienced great success, and then made a concerted effort to return to their home community and give back — to do what they can do to help others succeed in life — it is a beautiful thing,” Will Schofield, Hall’s superintendent said in a press release. “The Ivesters have a deep appreciation for the importance of education and the opportunity excellent teachers have to make a positive impact on the lives of students.”

If given the choice of where to invest, his father would have chosen education, Ivester stated in a press release.

“The honor of associating his name with Hall County’s Early College and its relationships with Brenau University, the Lanier Technical College, and the University of North Georgia is unsurpassed,” Ivester said. “My dad would have taken great pride in each student’s achievement and would have been their biggest cheerleader.”

Lynn J. Darby, president of the foundation, said in a press release that Ivester’s father “loved Hall County and was a big fan of the Hall County school system.” 

Darby noted that Howard Ivester served as president of North Hall High School’s Parent Teacher Association for a number of years, and attended the local technical school after serving in the U.S. military during World War II.

Since launching in fall 2016, the program has allowed students to earn college credit and certificates while completing a high school diploma and being taught by professors from the University of North Georgia, Brenau University and Lanier Technical College.

During the 2018-19 school year, 603 students across eight Hall County high schools enrolled in the program. In the fall 2018 semester, students had a 98.5% pass rate.

For more information about the Early College, visit earlycollegehallco.org.

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