Jeanne and Jim DeSana
Jim and Jeanne DeSana moved to Forsyth County in the 1970s when their youngest daughter was a senior in high school. After her graduation they continued to support multiple Forsyth County schools by sharing their knowledge in their chosen careers; serving on school councils and other school wide committees; raising funds for student projects; performing at school functions and establishing a scholarship fund with their life savings.
Jim DeSana was an engineer with General Motors. He was also a self taught pianist, inventor and artist. Jeanne DeSana was a genetic scientist who worked for Emory University and later for the State of Georgia. She, too, was an artist. Because of their love of the arts, they shared their talents with students and especially supported the drama program at Forsyth Central High. In the early 90s, the Central drama students were invited to perform at the National Thespian Conference in Nebraska. The DeSanas raised over $4,000 on their own to help these students go. Central’s drama program became known as one of the best in the country which led to many more national performances. Jim was often asked to play his electric piano at school events. Fittingly, one of his last performances was for a Central Office event.
Forsyth County Schools had school councils before the State required them. Jim and Jeanne served on Otwell Middle’s council for many years. Jeanne would often be in the classroom sharing experiments with the students while Jim shared his love of wood crafting. When the School Board authorized a community based Strategic Planning Committee to formulate the System’s first strategic plan, Jim was one of the 30 member Steering Committee. He and Jeanne later served on other school committees and were often asked to serve as judges for science and oratorical contests. Jim was also one of the founding members of the LEADER program that brought driving simulators to our county so students could become better drivers. He helped to raise thousands of dollars and bring awareness to this very worthwhile program that is still in existence today. They both served on the United Way of Forsyth board and worked with The Place to start a medical fund for the indigent.
In the early 1990s, the Chamber of Commerce established the Partners In Education Committee. Jim and Jeanne were on the original committee and headed up a program called “Why Not the Best” which encouraged students to explore options they had never considered. They organized tours throughout the Atlanta area. In later years, they were recognized by the Chamber for all of the volunteer work they had done throughout the community as the recipients of the Charles Welch Citizenship Award.
As active members of the Cumming Forsyth County Optimist Club, Jim and Jeanne helped to raise thousands of dollars for the Club’s scholarship fund as well. It was this project that inspired them to establish their own scholarship program with some of their life savings in 1997. Since 1998, the DeSana Educational Fund has given over $250,000 for 53 scholarships to Forsyth County public school students.
Please enjoy this video of the DeSana's daughters, Jane and Susan, as the speak about their parents and the impact they had on Forsyth County Schools.