By Merlin Tuttle
Skybridge Academy is doing something new! While many school administrators might panic at the sight of a bat in the yard, Ariel Miller, founder of the school in Dripping Springs, Texas, recently invited us to install two bat houses in her schoolyard. She hopes to attract hundreds of Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) and use them as teaching aids across Skybridge’s custom-made curriculum.
To put it mildly, the school is innovative! The yard includes a pair of pigs, a beehive, a vegetable garden, and now deluxe housing for bats. Students choose their own subjects and learn practical skills, completely omitting standardized testing. Skybridge alumni have an outstanding track record of achievement regardless of whether they opt to pursue higher education or another career path.
For the school’s 65-70 middle- and high-school students, each new day is an exciting adventure. In early May 2019, our colleague John Chenger of Bat Conservation and Management donated and helped to install two bat houses. Beginning in the fall, students will add bats to their captivating curriculum.
I met Skybridge’s students and their families when I served as commencement speaker for the 2019 graduating class. I spoke of the power of following one’s passion, and the joy of successfully meeting seemingly hopeless challenges. Teresa and I subsequently spent half a day with school faculty who were intrigued with the potential for using bats to spark interest and teach real-world skills. We hope Skybridge will become a model.