receive updates newsletter signup

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (July 31, 2019) — Entering its 98th year, local non-profit Bible in the Schools presented Hamilton County Schools and two participating charter schools with a collective community gift of over $1.5 million as reimbursement for the complete cost of the 2018-2019 county-wide public school Bible History elective course program.

Presenting the gift to Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson were Dr. Gary Phillips, vice chairman of the board of directors of Bible in the Schools, Mike Harrell, member of the board, and Ms. Cathy Scott, the organization’s president.

“We are a district invested in holistically preparing students for a successful future,” said Dr. Johnson. “Biblical literacy is one avenue for developing critical thinking, literacy, and cultural awareness for the students participating in this elective program. This gift—which was the largest philanthropic gift received by Hamilton County public schools during the 2018-2019 school year through community partnerships — empowered Hamilton County Schools to hire 23 qualified and certified Bible History teachers, including a full-time Bible History Program Coordinator, for this past academic year.”

Enrollment data from 25 participating Hamilton County public schools reported 4,536 public school students in grades 6-12 completed Bible History elective courses during the 2018-2019 academic year — a record enrollment and a 12 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Board Chairman Chris Maclellan said, “Bible in the Schools’ commitment to providing Hamilton County Schools with the free gift of Bible History elective courses has remained strong for nearly 100 years. It is our privilege to deliver this gift that represents thousands of generous people who understand the importance of exposing young people to the Bible. Every year, there is evidence that Bible History provides a unique benefit to public school students, at no cost to taxpayers, and has a lasting impact on students’ lives. We look forward to having 26 participating schools for 2019-2020, as Orchard Knob Middle School adds a new Bible History program for this coming academic year. Our board is greatly encouraged to have seen county-wide student access to Bible History increase from 67% to 85% in the past 36 months. Currently, courses are available as electives to the vast majority of all public middle and high school students in Hamilton County, and our hope is to see every middle and high school student have the opportunity to study Bible History if they so choose.”

Mrs. Scott said, “Bible in the Schools is honored to be the conduit through which the community makes this elective possible for youth in our public schools. We believe the Bible is essential to a well-rounded education and to the overall character development of youth. While Bible History is a robust academic subject, the byproduct of these courses reaches beyond mere academic gains as students are exposed to the hope, values, and life lessons found in the Bible, many of which are universally relevant today. Students often report that the Bible provides a perspective that encourages them to make healthier choices, and to give more thought to their actions, particularly related to conduct, relationships, and self-care. It is with deep honor that we present this 2019 Community Gift that we trust will continue to enrich public school youth with the hope, wisdom, and knowledge of what is still the world’s most influential book.”

Bible History courses will expand to 26 schools this fall and will be taught by 24 highly credentialed teachers, led by a full-time Bible History Program Coordinator, all of whom are employed by the school system and are fully funded through charitable donations to Bible in the Schools. In addition to gifting teacher salaries and benefits, Bible in the Schools fully funds all taxes, costs of regular teacher professional development and legal training, classroom materials, and Bible textbooks for the courses.

Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed teaching of Bible History for-credit electives in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools as constitutionally permissible, with the Bible to be used as the textbook. The Hamilton County Bible History curricular framework is court approved and aligns to the Tennessee Department of Education’s state academic standards.

Officials said, "Bible History elective classes in the public schools are an opportunity for students to have a viewpoint neutral, foundational study – at no cost to taxpayers – of one of the cornerstone texts of world history, which helps students become culturally literate and better equipped to thrive and contribute to a global world."

More information regarding participating schools and courses offered is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.

Posted by Cathy Scott, President | Topic: Press

BLOG: No Ordinary Roll Call

August 22nd, 2018

This is the Bible History classroom at Hixson High School that tragically has one less student than a week ago. On Saturday night, August 18th, 2018, a Hixson man shot and killed his 15-year-old son, who happened to be a public school Bible History student in Mr. Quincy Harris’ Old Testament Survey class. The newspaper reports the father of this boy is being held in jail under a $1,000,000 bond and has been charged with criminal homicide.

On Friday, Mr. Harris’ classroom was filled with 34 energetic and bubbly Bible History students. However, on Monday one could have heard a pin drop as Mr. Harris broke through the silence to call the roll. This time, only 33 students responded. Additionally, on Monday morning, a student in the same class learned of the tragic passing of their younger sibling due to illness.

If you know a teacher or educational leader, you likely know serving youth these days in any capacity is not for the faint of heart. How is a teacher supposed to begin crafting lesson plans for students who are trying to process news of the slaying of a fellow classmate – let alone knowing their friend’s life was taken by his own father? What about the child who will go home to try to eat dinner with one less person at their table? How does one comfort these levels of pain, confusion, or fear? Quite simply, many young people in our schools are dealing with tough circumstances. Where is their hope? It is times like these that we are grateful for the presence of Bible History teachers in 25 Hamilton County Schools, who can show students where to turn to find hope when they’re hurting.

Hixson High School alumnus and Bible History teacher, Mr. Quincy Harris, in addition to having two degrees, has 7 years of experience in the U.S. Air Force as a Military Policeman, a Criminal Investigator, and a Hostage and Crisis Negotiator. Mr. Harris’ experience in the Air Force has therefore uniquely positioned him to be able to help his students talk through and process situations of acute grief. He is familiar with the consequences of heinous crime, and he is also able to openly point students in his public school classroom to passages in the Bible from which they can draw comfort and hope in times of grief. It’s likely, that for a while, the start of class will feel like no ordinary roll call; however, how beautiful it is that Mr. Harris can invite students to open the the Bible, which is no ordinary Book! Psalm 30:5b reminds us, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Cathy Scott,

President

Posted by Cathy Scott, President | Topic: BITS  | Category: Youth Culture

Last Thursday's news was the kind of news that really does a number on one’s heart. One story many of us in this community have been following is about a beautiful young 14-year-old boy and his step-grandmother who lost their footing while crossing a creek hiking in the Grand Canyon. Both were swept downstream and have been missing ever since. I can’t even wrap my mind around the level of pain this family must be going through. There are just no words.

Another news story on the very same page was about a young 15-year-old girl, who was allegedly kidnapped by a much older man, was missing for over a month, and who has now been found and rescued. Again, how can one put into words what her family and friends must be feeling knowing she has been found, is alive and safe, and will be coming back home?

I have wrestled in my spirit knowing how to process these two stories sitting side by side on the same page, yet with such contrasting outcomes. On one hand, there are families, communities, and a school aching over what has been lost, and clinging to the hope of a miracle. On the other hand, there are families, communities, and another school jubilantly rejoicing over a missing teen who has now been found. Both scenarios are gut-wrenching, sobering, and so very hard to understand. How does one make sense of either narrative?

It is likely there are students in both schools connected to these two dichotomous scenarios who have unanswered questions, troubled emotions, and who are struggling to process difficult, mature concepts with minds and hearts that are still young, developing, and not equipped to deal with troublesome things of this nature.

Both stories are tragic in their own way and serve as a reminder that daily there are youth in all our schools carrying things in their hearts that are way bigger than they know what to do with. Many sit in their desks at school trying to focus on things they’re told are important, such as math or science, or verbs or pronouns, while trying to simultaneously process and cope internally with their own stories of hurt, pain, and loss. These stressors, from things in life that often don’t make sense, can manifest themselves in all kinds of ways in a young person’s life.

Many teens are learning at a young age that life can be tough, sometimes even cruel! The reality is that sometimes the circumstances of life, like these two perplexing stories, don’t begin to make sense and can feel really disturbing and confusing to our kids. Helping them process through some of their deeper questions about life, even at school, often becomes something they really need.

My youngest son happens to attend the same school and is in the grade below this precious boy who is missing. While the community has ached over this, it has been moving watching his school care lovingly for this family and for all its students as they try to process this tragedy. The school has provided multiple resources to help students work through their emotions and questions. As a school they have also prayed collectively and fervently for this situation and shared words from the Bible to bring comfort to the student body.

As for the young girl who was rescued, I know nothing about her school or how they have been helping their students process that circumstance. However, we are grateful that for 95 years students in Hamilton County public schools have been able to elect Bible history classes, through which many students facing hard times have shared that they have found hope and comfort in the words of the Bible.

It is likely that there are circumstances in each one of our lives we may never have answers for, or situations that may always feel painful or confusing. It’s also probable that at some point or another we will all be faced with something so tough it will take us to that place where all we can do is put one foot in front of the other as we cling to the hope of a miracle.

Knowing life at times can be so hard and sometimes may not make sense to us, we believe it is so important that students have exposure to the Bible and to the hope and comfort it can bring, especially during the times they need it the most. One Bible history student Janaria wrote, “The Bible can help you understand things in life. It can help you get through a lot of things you can’t handle.” Another young man in Bible history named Sean said, “The Bible was like a life map for me when I felt lost.”

Whether we pray or pause in respect for the pain of those searching for loved ones lost, or give thanks with those for a life that has been found, we can be reminded that people young and old for thousands of generations have turned to the Bible to bring comfort to the hurting and healing to the broken. Even though life won’t always make sense, we give thanks that because of the community’s gracious gifts to this public school Bible history program, this same book is still able to offer comfort, hope, and healing to students in our schools today.


Cathy Scott,

President

Posted by Cathy Scott, President | Topic: BITS  | Category: Youth Culture