A Tennessee-based nonprofit called Bible in the Schools (BITS) recently presented Hamilton County Public Schools in Chattanooga with a $1.8 million gift as reimbursement for its 2020-2021 countywide Bible History elective program.
For nearly 100 years, BITS has provided Bible History elective courses for public school students in Hamilton County. The organization now reaches 29 public schools and thousands of students in grades 6-12.
"As we approach our 100th school year, it is an honor to present this gift to our public schools, as it represents the heart behind so many donors in this community," said BITS Chairman Tom Glenn. "Such generosity makes the gift of Bible History available to so many young lives."
The school district recorded the highest enrollment numbers for 2021 with 19,006 students in the county electing to take Bible History courses with one in four students completing a Bible course for graduation credit.
Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools said the generous gift will challenge students to learn the history and organization of the Bible.
"Hamilton County seeks to graduate students who are future-ready and prepared for success in college and career," Dr. Johnson noted. "By thinking critically and engaging in historically rich conversations, HCS is preparing students to become global thinkers and responsible citizens."
Five courses are offered to students in the middle and high school grades.
Sixth graders learn about creation and the flood in Genesis while 7th grade students are taught about the wanderings in the wilderness and the Ten Commandments in Exodus.
Eighth graders discover more about the life of Jesus based on the book of Luke. Students in the 9-12th grade get an overview from the Old and New Testament Survey.
Students also learn what the Bible says about the nature of God and man along with a biblical overview of creation, the fall, and redemption.
"Studying Bible History in our public schools helps ground and awaken students to the rich cultural footprint that the Bible has had on history while offering students hope, values, and life lessons relevant to the tough issues they wrestle with daily," said BITS President Cathy Scott.
"We believe that a knowledge of the Bible is a key component to a well-rounded education that encourages students to not just be passive observers of society, but active contributors," she added.
Bible History classes abide by guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling affirming that the program in Hamilton County's public middle schools and high schools is legal and constitutionally protected. And the curriculum aligns with the Tennessee Department of Education's academic standards.
Additionally, Bible History electives are fully gifted to public schools by charitable donations within the community, therefore no taxpayer dollars are used.
"The Hamilton County public school Bible History program has been a daily dispenser of hope in this community and reflects the generosity of so many committed partners," Scott said. "Thank you to all who have donated generously to enrich Hamilton County Schools with a text that crosses all cultural, socioeconomic, and racial barriers, while still touching lives each day."
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