Hamilton County Department Of Education Receives $1 Million Gift From Community To Fully Fund Bible History Elective Courses
Monday, August 14, 2017
Bible in the Schools’ President Cathy Scott and Superintendent Bryan Johnson
Bible in the Schools, a local nonprofit in its 96th year, presented Dr. Bryan Johnson, newly-elected superintendent of Hamilton County schools, with a gift from the community of over $1 million to reimburse 100 percent of the costs of Hamilton County schools’ elective Bible History program for the 2016-2017 academic year. HCDE enrollment data reported 3,736 students in grades 6-12 elected an optional Bible History class during the 2016-2017 school year — a 4.3% increase over the 2015-2016 year.
“To the best of our knowledge, this represents over 9 decades of sustained private contributions to public education in the history of our community — an annual tradition that goes back to 1922,” said Superintendent Johnson.
Presenting the reimbursement check totaling $1,076,631 to Dr.
Johnson and his leadership cabinet was Cathy Scott, the organization’s president. Also in attendance was Bible in the Schools’ board member, Mike Harrell. This community gift covers the complete costs of the county-wide Bible History program, including teacher salaries, benefits, taxes, teacher professional development training, classroom materials, and the textbook for all participating schools, which is the Bible.
Dr. Johnson said, “We are grateful for those in this community who have provided funding for this robust elective and to Bible in the Schools for their dedication each year in raising awareness and support for public education. This gift empowered HCDE to hire 18 qualified and certified Bible History teachers in the 2016-2017 school year. This enriched 20 middle and high schools with key mentors and role models for students, reduced student-teacher ratios, and expanded academic course offerings — all things that continue to increase the quality of public education in Hamilton County.”
“Bible in the Schools is pleased to be a part of strengthening Hamilton County public schools. We believe the optional Bible History courses provide a unique benefit to public school students, at no cost to taxpayers, that will have a long-term impact,” said Bible in the Schools’ Board Chairman, Mr. Chris Maclellan.
Ms. Scott said, “Bible in the Schools is honored to be the conduit through which the community makes these electives possible in our public schools. This gift represents thousands of individuals and entities who understand the value of Bible History electives to a well-rounded education and to the overall development of youth. The benefits of studying Bible History go beyond simply improving reading comprehension, increasing vocabulary, and growing cultural literacy; it often fosters healthier decisions, specifically related to student conduct and relationships. In addition, Bible History encourages divergent and critical thinking as students wrestle with essential questions around complex text. Courses are rigorous and quantifiable data provides valuable information relative to student growth and academic achievement. We were delighted to see pre- and post-test averages from assessments given to all 3,736 students reflect an 85% increase in students’ Bible content knowledge county-wide for the 2016-2017 school year. This is a testimony to the pedagogy of Hamilton County’s exceptional Bible History teachers. It is with deep honor that we present this gift that we trust will enrich the lives of public school youth with the hope, wisdom and knowledge of what is still the world’s most influential book.”
Since summer 2016, Bible History electives in Hamilton County have expanded by 28%. For the academic year of 2017-2018 these electives will be offered in 23 schools and will be taught by 20 qualified teachers, who collectively hold 45 degrees. 79% of all Hamilton County public middle and high school students now have access to these electives. Schools offering Bible History include: Brainerd High School, Brown Middle School, Central High School, Dalewood Middle School, East Hamilton School, East Lake Academy, East Ridge High School, East Ridge Middle School, Hixson High School, Hixson Middle School, The Howard School, Hunter Middle School, Ivy Academy Chattanooga, Loftis Middle School, Ooltewah High School, Ooltewah Middle School, Red Bank High School, Red Bank Middle School, Sale Creek Middle/High School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Soddy Daisy High School, Soddy Daisy Middle School and Tyner Academy. Courses offered are: Genesis (taught in 6th), Exodus (7th), Life of Jesus (8th), Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey (9th-12th).
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 as the textbook. Teachers, who are certified and trained educators selected and hired by school principals, utilize a court approved curriculum that aligns to academic state standards established by the Tennessee Department of Education.
Bible History elective classes are an opportunity for students to have a viewpoint neutral, foundational study 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 is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.
Shown are representatives of Bible in the Schools with members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet: Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson; Mr. Mike Harrell, Member, Bible in the Schools’ Board of Directors; Mrs. Cathy Scott, President, Bible in the Schools; Justin Witt, Director, Auxiliary Services; Dr. Robert Sharpe, Director, Secondary Schools; Dr. Lee McDade, Assistant Superintendent; Zac Brown, Assistant Superintendent; Preston Gonter, Director, Federal Programs; Dr. Marsha Drake, Director, Student Services; Karen Hollis, Director, Elementary Schools; Dr. Neelie Parker, Director, Elementary Schools; Christie Jordan, Assistant Superintendent; Jill Levine, Chief Academic Officer; Le Andrea Ware, Director, Secondary Schools; Dr. Justin Robertson, Assistant Superintendent; and Stacy Stewart, Assistant Superintendent.