Empty classroom with desks and chairs

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LifeWise Academy is bringing God to public schools through engaging Bible education during lunch and noncore classes like library, art, and gym.

A typical morning at Etna Morning Elementary School in Ohio, for example, doesn’t look like your normal everyday school routine (see below video).


While some students are engaged in class lessons, others are decked out in red shirts, boarding the bright red LifeWise Academy bus to head to a local church. Once the students arrive at the church, they spend time praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible together. The trips usually takes about 30 minutes and is set up in a way where class time is not directly impacted. These practices have become the weekly norm for students of Etna Morning Elementary and several other schools throughout the state.

“A lot of parents want to be able to say to their child, ‘Yeah, you’re going to get science class, you’re going to get math class, you’re going to get English class — and you’re going to have Bible class, too, because this is important to us as a family,’” LifeWise founder and former Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman, Joel Penton, told NBC News.

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LifeWise, with a green light from the Supreme Court, serves both students and faculty. Since its launch in 2018, the program is linked to increased attendance and decreased suspensions. The Ohio-based nonprofit planned on serving 25 schools by 2025, but to their surprise, they managed to service a whopping 300 schools at the beginning of 2024, bringing God to 35,000 public school students on a weekly basis. According to the program’s website, anyone is capable of getting a program started in their area through a simple 10-step process that includes getting 50 community signatures.

While not everyone is fully on board with the idea of the Bible being back in the school, LifeWise is advocating to expand their reach nationwide, one prayer at a time.