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Life Lessons

LifeWise Academy Continues to Extend Its Reach in Pulaski County and Beyond

Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

“I grew up in a family that loved Jesus and went to church,” says Sherri Huber, LifeWise Academy steering committee member. “It breaks my heart to think of kids not knowing about Jesus and the Bible.”

Huber was surprised when she heard that less than 20% of kids today attend church regularly. This was shared during an informational meeting about the national LifeWise program.   LifeWise Academy

“I wanted to help to spread the good news of the gospel to students in my community who have never heard about Jesus,” she says. “I want to share with kids that they are created for a purpose and how much they are loved by Jesus. Navigating this world is hard. Kids and their families need hope.”

LifeWise Academy is privately funded organization that offers parents the opportunity to sign their child up to receive a once-a-week Bible study program within the normal school day. This program is offered when students have electives or activity periods, and does not interfere with the core curriculum, according to steering committee members. It is offered off-campus, with transportation provided via a red bus.

LifeWise uses a professionally produced curriculum, has liability insurance, and provides coaches for all steps of the process. Sherri says LifeWise operates under a two-pronged commitment – to always be gospel-centered, and strive for excellence as representative of Christ in all that it does.

“This is not a way to get kids to come to our church,” Chad Huber says.

Fellow steering committee member Gene Huber, Sherri’s husband and Chad’s brother, says the goal is to rely on biblical stories to teach values and develop good citizens.LifeWise Academy

Offering voluntary religious activities and programs during school hours is not a new concept. It has been upheld by courts. Analogous programs have been around for decades according to the steering committee members.

LifeWise programs are currently operating in numerous Indiana counties including Wells, Noble, Adams, Newton, DeKalb, Whitley, and Pulaski at the West Central School Corporation.

At West Central, 79% of elementary students are taking part in the local LifeWise program, Sherri says. This is the third year for the LifeWise program at West Central.

“There are other communities in our area that are starting through the 10-step LifeWise launch process,” Chad says.LifeWise Academy

Steps in the process include collecting signatures to show community support, raising donations, recruiting a steering committee, preparing a presentation, getting school approval and putting together a leadership team, among others. Other steps involve working with LifeWise staff to get to the final goal of implementing the program.

During the process, local LifeWise committees seek to involve the school and work alongside administrators and teachers. This program seeks to expand children’s access to opportunities that help with character development, mental health and academic achievement by becoming an ally to the school system.

In addition to those in the local area, LifeWise is preparing to launch released-time Bible classes in more than 300 schools in 12 states for this school year. Founder and chief executive officer of LifeWise, Joel Penton, started the program in 2019 in five schools. More than 15,000 students are currently enrolled in LifeWise classes nationwide, and communities in 23 states have begun the process of starting a LifeWise program.LifeWise Academy

“This benefits our children because it brings peace into their hearts, because they know they are here for a purpose,” Sherri says. “When they know the heart of Jesus, it changes them.”

Sherri and the other members of the steering committee believe that LifeWise will help students learn to cope with stresses in life. Religious instruction is a component of developing a well-rounded, responsible member of the community, they say.

For more information, visit lifewise.org.

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