School prayer was banned by the Supreme Court 50 years ago, but many public schools and faith-based groups partner to help at-risk youth by offering a caring presence.
Every Wednesday morning at 10 , Andrea Bentz walks into Sanders Elementary School to spend an hour with third-grader Alex Grant, who sports a cool Mohawk and camouflage sweat-jacket, and who has a talent for drawing.
Sitting at a low table, they chat and laugh, and she pulls out a small paper bag with his favorite snack, popcorn. Then Ms. Bentz teaches him a shortcut to help with addition, building in a break so Alex can add a scene to a cartoon epic. Throughout, she breathes not a word about faith even though faith informs her every move and every smile.
A member of the nearby Orange Hill Baptist Church, Bentz volunteers through Kids Hope USA, which trains churches to partner with public schools to mentor at-risk children. The program spells out and enforces the First Amendment restrictions that apply in a public school setting.