Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a teaching moment!

Have you ever been in a situation you were utterly unprepared for? I’m not talking about an exam you didn’t properly study for; I mean something so surprising that you wouldn’t have even considered planning for it.

(Are you having flashbacks to bad high-school essay prompts yet? Good. Now let me tell you a story.)

Scene: Dark Ceiling Crawlspace

You and your family have been living a very nice life above a very boisterous bunch of people. Sometimes, in fact, these people are so rowdy that they break holes through the ceiling and into the floor of your home. Luckily, you and your family are tucked above the floor most of the day, so this doesn’t normally bother you. Plus, it’s cold outside, and these rowdy people keep the building quite warm during the day.

Enter Spring 

One day, the weather outside suddenly warms up. It’s a good deal better than the record cold temperatures you’ve been experiencing, but then something horrible happens. Your home, which has been warm and cozy for months now, is suddenly hit by strong gusts of cold air. As this is your home, your family tries to put up with this alarming turn of events as best as they can. This new weather is too much for them. They start to get sick, losing their grip on the ceiling and falling through the holes students have punched in the ceiling tiles below.

If you haven’t already guessed, this is the story of Benjamin Banneker Elementary School’s bat problem. Of course, from my perspective, things were quite different. I had absolutely no idea that we had upstairs neighbors, and for the months I’d been in Banneker, I never had any indication that we were not alone in the building. The weather had just gotten warm enough for the air conditioning unit in the school to kick in for the first time in many months.

Don't try this at home.

Don’t try this at home.

“Miss Erin!!! There’s a bat outside!”

“Outside the school?”

“No, outside the door!”

“…Show me.”

Outside the Kedila classroom, a bat was clinging to the wall, at about chest height. I was concerned for several reasons. 1. Bats shouldn’t be out in the daytime (it was about 3pm). 2. Bats shouldn’t be in a school. 3. When I came out, wrestling students in the hallway were taking advantage of the situation by attempting to force each other into the bat. I grabbed an empty container I had on hand (doesn’t everyone always have large empty Tupperware on hand?) and trapped it inside. After a quick lecture to the students on bats (No, class, bats are not all out there to suck your blood; but don’t touch them, they can carry disease, and may bite), I turned the bat and Tupperware over to the school’s janitorial department.

That evening, after posting a photo of the day’s adventure, I received a call from my cousin, letting me know that the CDC recommends rabies shots if you have close contact with a sick bat.  Over the next few weeks, I received the series of shots, and a pest control company worked to remove the bats. Netting was placed around holes in the crawlspaces, and broken ceiling tiles were replaced. With a few hiccups, including a short blackout that caused the remaining bats to come out during school hours, Banneker was cleared of the bats.

Rabies shot selfie. 50% smile, 50% grimace.

Rabies shot selfie. 50% smile, 50% grimace.



This entry was posted on May 6, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.


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