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About the GIFT Scholarship

Outside of the family, formal education in primary and secondary schools is the single most important factor in the development of those social and academic ethics and skills that are needed by children as they mature and go out into the world to make their individual contributions to society.


The Gainesville Invests in Future Teachers (GIFT) Scholarship is a source of funds that provides an incentive to enroll in Georgia universities that offer 4-year teaching degrees. The recipient receives a yearly stipend of $1100 and on graduation an additional bonus of $1100 is awarded to support them in their initial year of employment.

Motivation of Fund & Continuing Support


As students who were enrolled in the public school system in Gainesville, Georgia, in particular during our four years at Gainesville High School (GHS), we had the great privilege to be more than just instructed by exceptional teachers; we were mentored by them because of their dedication to the subjects they taught and to the students whom they guided. They led us with a combination of firmness, kindness and wisdom that we did not truly grasp until years later when we recognized their gentle hands in directing how we led our own lives and chose the professions that have brought us successes in all aspects of how we live.

We want to honor these former teachers and we feel that we owe to them to encourage today’s young people, in particular those who are in their last year of high school. Some may be struggling to choose a future profession so we would like to motivate them to consider teaching as a way to make a positive impact on society while enriching their own lives.


Applicant Requirements


Applicants will be required to fill out the common scholarship application provided by the North Georgia Community Foundation (NGCF) with their personal information, including that which will be needed to determine financial need, along with their high school academic record. Once this application is complete the student will be matched to scholarships they are eligible for. Then, for the GIFT scholarship fund application they will be required to write a one page essay that describes who they are and why they wish to be a teacher. There are also a list of questions that they will be asked to respond to.

Academic record will not be a major factor, but it is mandatory that the applicant has been officially accepted for entrance to a Georgia, higher education institute that offers the undergraduate teaching degree. Teaching Certification Website


Recipient Requirements


Once they have received an award, recipients will be required to provide a brief, written report to the board, at the end of each academic year of the college or university, which summarizes the year’s activities.

The scholarship funds will be awarded to the recipient's school at the beginning of the academic year, contingent on the recipients maintaining passing grades and continuing in the program towards the attainment of a teaching degree.

Recipients who drop out of school, fail to maintain passing grades or change their major from teaching to some other degree program will no longer be eligible for scholarship funds.

Recipients who pursue a major or majors in addition to that of the teaching degree will still qualify for the GIFT funding


Meet our Board of Directors


Glenda (Martin) Brassell and Darrel Baumgardner, both 1967 graduates of Gainesville High School are co-administrators of the GIFT scholarship. 

Glenda is a native of Gainesville. Honor graduate of GHS in 1967; received D.A.R. Good Citizenship Award for two years in a row at Enota Elementary and Senior year at GHS. Was involved in many organizations. Studied private piano with Estelle Bloodworth from age 6 to 12; then with Sue Morris from age 12 to 18. Earned Bachelor of Music Education Degree (grades K-12) from Mars Hill University, NC, in 1971; Major: Piano; Minor: Voice; member of Touring Choir & other organizations there. Taught elementary classroom music, Pickens High School Chorus & Theatre in Pickens, S.C. School District 1971-1988.  Was listed in Outstanding Young Women of America in 1980. Served as Admin. Assistant to Gainesville City Marshal from 1991 to 2007. Continued to accompany many soloists during free time. Retired 2007 to provide in-home care for my elderly parents for 10 years.

Darrel is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Received his doctorate in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Wyoming. Was a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder Colorado for 20 years, professor at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico for 14 years, founded Droplet Measurement Technologies in 1987 and is currently the Chief Scientist there

Robert (Bob) S. Mathews

Born and raised in Gainesville.  Graduated from GHS in 1967.  Graduated from North Georgia College (University of North Georgia) 1971 and commissioned as a 2ndLT in the US Army.  Served 6 years in the Army ending as a Captain and Commander of the 526th Military Police Company at Fort Meade, Maryland.  Out of the Army, joined Lendman Associates, a national recruiting company specializing in the placement of former military officers.  In 1984, joined Portman Barry Brokerage as one of the first commercial real estate agents for the firm specializing in office tenant representation.  Joined Colliers International – Atlanta in 1991 as a commercial agent and held various leadership roles.  Currently, Chairman, CEO and Principal of Colliers Atlanta.


Married to Joan Wynne Mathews whom he met at North Georgia and they have 3 grown sons, David, John, and Will and 4 Grandchildren, Riley, Millicent, George and Caroline.  The Mathews live in Dunwoody, Georgia.

Joe Hunnicutt

After graduating from Gainesville High Joe went on to Georgia Tech earning a degree in Industrial Management. After graduating from Tech he began a career in insurance, surety and risk management. He specialized in surety and in developing solutions to emerging and expanding risk threats such as terrorism, environment risks and coastal storms. His career took him from Atlanta to Savannah to Hartford to Seattle to Salt Lake City and finally to Charlotte. where he joined First Union (which became Wachovia and then Wells Fargo). After forty years working for others Joe began a consulting practice offering advice to stakeholders in commercial real estate.

While at Tech he married Colleen McNabb.  They have three sons and six grandchildren.  After his retirement in 2014 they moved back to Utah and now live in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.

Betsy (Jennings) Powell

Betsy was born in Atlanta and raised in Gainesville. After graduating from Gainesville High School in 1967, she attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, where she earned a B.A., cum laude in Biology in 1971.  This was followed by Certification in Medical Technology through Emory University Hospital in 1972. However, during that year of training at Emory, Betsy realized a deep passion for direct patient care, so she entered Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1972, graduating cum laude in 1976. This was followed by both pediatrics residency and pediatrics fellowship at Vanderbilt Hospital over the next five years.

       After a rewarding pediatrics practice in various locations over the next two decades, Betsy began to feel a deep pull toward ministry of a different sort.  In 2002 she entered The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, graduating in 2005 with an M.Div. cum laude.  Returning back to the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast from NYC, Betsy was ordained priest and served several parishes in both Florida and Alabama over the ensuing years.

       Betsy has recently retired from full-time parish ministry and has moved back to Gainesville with her husband David, who is also a retired Episcopal priest.  They are both delighted to call Gainesville home.

Marty (Burtz) Hale

Marty is a native of Gainsville, daughter of a school teacher and her husband, Randy, is also an educator. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in elementary education, master's degree and doctorate in Educational Administration, all from the University of Georgia. She taught elementary and middle school for 18 years in Georgia and Texas then 16 years as a school principal in Georgia's Newton County, Hall County and Union County, then in Charleston, SC., where she was principal of a charter school for gifted children. She retired for the 4th and last time in 2014. She has a daughter and son and six grandchildren.

Michael (Mike) Hancock

Michael Hancock is a native of Gainesville. He was one of a handful of black students who integrated the Gainesville City School System in 1965. In 1967, by dint of the alphabetical order in which graduating students were called, he became the first black student to receive a GHS diploma. He graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Communications and thereafter worked as an investigator for the DeKalb County Juvenile Court. After two years there, he entered Emory University School of Law and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1978. 

     After law school, Mike returned to his trailbreaker role when he became the first African-American hire in the Dekalb County Public Defender’s Office, the first as Chief Assistant Solicitor General, and the first black DeKalb County Superior Court judge. He retired as an active judge in 2012 and took senior judge status. He has since, when called upon, rendered judicial assistance to courts throughout the state of Georgia.

      Mike and his wife of 52 years, Odessa, now reside in Banks County.

The GIFT board of directors consists of those who are interested in being actively involved with managing the funds, selecting the award recipients and acting as potential mentors to the award recipients during their academic years and afterwards. The role of the members of the board include (voluntarily):

  • Fund management – this consists primarily of deciding the award amount per recipient on a yearly basis.


  • Recipient selection – this consists of reading the applicant documents, conducting interviews and making recommendations.


  • Mentoring – this consists of being a resource when recipients have questions about college courses, life style choices, etc. The GIFT donors, as well as others who may serve on the board, come from an extensive background of science, music, education, business, counseling, etc. and will provide an invaluable source of information and guidance to recipients.


The board of directors is not limited in either number or length of term.



Music Education:
Donald E. & Reba (Ramsey) Rich

(Donors – Darrel Baumgardner, Glenda Martin Brassell

                    Jane Crawford)

 Math & Science:
Allen Webster 

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner)

Charles McDonald

(Donors – Darrel Baumgardner and Robert ‘Bob’ Mathews)

Charlotte White

(Donors – Joe & Colleen Hunnicutt)

Mark Carter

(Donors – Joe & Colleen Hunnicutt)

Gladys Caswell

(Donors – Ann Patterson Luther & Darrel Baumgardner)


Willanelle Green

(Donors – Darrel Baumgardner, Glenda Martin Brassell

                    Jane Crawford, Michael Hancock)

Mary Pentecost

(Donor – Ann Patterson Luther)

Mr. and Mrs. William G. Collier

(Donor – Glenda Martin Brassell)


Social Studies:
Heyward Gnann

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner

                  Jane Crawford)

Curtis Segars

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner)


Foreign Language:
Kitty Murphy 

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner)

Grace Speer

(Donor – Robert ‘Bob’ Mathews)


Special Education/Vocational Rehabilitation:
Kathryn Sweiger McGlaun

(Donors – Russell and Janis (Griffin) Courson

                    Jane Crawford)


Physical Education:
Jean Gruhn

(Donor – Ann Patterson Luther)

Bobby Gruhn

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner)

Keth Ochs

(Donor – Darrel Baumgardner)


Public Speaking:
Virginia A. Cornelison

(Donor – Ann Patterson Luther)

School Administrators:
Otis M. Ellenburg Jr.

(Donor – Glenda Martin Brassell)

All of our Teachers:

(Donors – David Powell & Betsy Jennings Powell)


2019 Scholarship Recipient: Alan Remes

Alan is attending the University of West Georgia and has this to say about his first year.

My first year of college at the University of West Georgia was a year full of growth and learning. Throughout my first year of college I was very involved in the band program as I did marching band in the Fall and symphonic band in the Spring. I also got the opportunity to join a fraternity called Kappa Kappa Psi. This fraternity is based on service to the band program, which I thoroughly enjoy. I tried to be very involved by attending events that would go on around campus. The people at the University of West Georgia have indeed shown me what it feels to be at home away from home. My first year was cut short due to the global pandemic, but that didn’t stop me from reaching my goals. I was put on the dean’s list for the 2020 Spring semester, and I also completed my first education class for my major. Overall this year has brought me so much more passion for becoming a future educator. I want thank the GIFT BOD for the constant support throughout my first year.

UPDATE 2021! Alan makes the Dean's list again after Straight A's Fall Semester, 2020

2020 Scholarship Recipient: Perla Villatoro

Perla’s words about herself:

My entire childhood consists of vivid memories of me in school. Almost every teacher I have had has left an imprint on my life today. I was raised entirely by my mother herself, along with my older and younger sisters in our home. My mom is my rock and she has always made sure to do the absolute most she can to help further my education and my life. From as early as pre-k my mother has tried to build a bond with my teachers and make sure I was excelling alongside them.  My early childhood teachers will probably always be my favorite because I have stayed in contact with them the most. My pre-k teacher ended up moving across the street from my family, as she started her very own preschool. My kindergarten teacher is the one who I share the most memories, because of how fun and exciting she was and is.


Overall, all my teachers have mainly been strong courageous women with good hearts and I told myself I want to be like them, not just as a teacher, but as a good human being overall. I have a strong love and passion for reading and writing, and I know I want to share it with others along the education spectrum of things. I have not yet decided what age group to focus on; however, being able to read and help younger minds grasp the basis of the English language to me is very exciting. I also would like to share with older teens the great American epics we read to this day, while also teaching them how to make their words have great power. Thank you so much for letting me express my desire to be a teacher and with your help I can fulfill that wish and get the chance to decide how to share my gifts and passions with others.

Perla is attending the University of North Georgia.

2021 Scholarship Recipient: Imelda Razo

Imelda's’s words about herself:

Growing up, I always enjoyed helping others. I have many enjoyable memories of helping others in the community. My passion for wanting to make a difference in the community expanded as I got into high school. I remember changing my mind on what I wanted to become when I got older. No matter the end result, I wanted to continue impacting and serving those around me. I remember saying in elementary that I wanted to become a teacher but I didn't really put much consideration into it until my junior year when I began to help out in the ESOL classrooms. My love for teaching truly originated from being there. My role model for wanting to become an ESOL teacher would have to be the teacher that I got to help out. Although I did not have her as one of my own teachers, she truly helped me realize that my passion and future was right in front of me the whole time. When I first walked into her classroom to assist, I instantly knew I wanted to follow her footsteps one day. Her style of teaching is one that I definitely enjoy and I hope to expand on it in the future. 

As a first gen student, I want to demonstrate to others and serve as a role model that anything and everything is possible. No matter the obstacles, there is always a way through. Thank you to the GIFT program for giving me this opportunity to expand onto my career and do what I love

Imelda will be attending the University of North Georgia. Congratulations, Imelda!