Local school uses messages in bottles for teaching

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- “Dear friends, my name is Tyler,” writes the 11-year-old at the Triad Academy at Summit School in Winston-Salem.

She’s writing to someone she is likely never going to meet. But they already feel as if they know each other.

Although not everyone at Summit School is dyslexic, the school specializes in teaching those who are and hands-on lessons, like the one Susan Schambach has done with her second-graders for the last four years, have brought great results.

“Man, this is the greatest lesson plan in the world,” says Schambach with a chuckle. “I will use it forever.”

And, in a way, so do the students because even three and four years later, they are working off the lesson in other ways. It starts with the second-graders putting a simple not in a bottle that a friendly sea captain later puts in the Gulf Stream for them, about 40 miles off the North Carolina coast.

Then they wait. And wait – about 14 months, in most cases, hoping for a surprise.

“Four different times I've just been shocked where there's just an email from abroad that says they've found our bottle,” says Schambach.

The latest was the bottle in which Hines Batten put a note.

“I just put my name and a smiley face,” says Hines.

For Schambach, it’s a way to not just teach about the Gulf Stream but about both the power and fragility of the world. On her email signature, there is a quote from Robert Michael Pyle that says, “What is the extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren,” reads Ms. Schambach. “So, I want them to notice the wrens, the currents and everything else out there.”

See the kids doing their project in this edition of the Buckley Report.