By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Considering the carnage the state faced with the massive tornado outbreak just two years ago, ABC 33/40 Meteorologist James Spann spends many mornings talking to students about the importance of weather safety.
Spann brought his message to children at Cullman Primary School on Tuesday, and found a captive young audience that still remembers the terror of April 27, 2011.
“Considering what happened here two years ago, they have memories of that,” Spann said. “Even those that are five, six, and seven-years-old remember that, so we try and reinforce what happened and teach them about it in a positive way so they won’t be afraid of it in the future.”
Spann has worked in children’s ministry for 30 years and feels that they are impactful and eager to learn at a young age.
“I like getting kids excited about science,” Spann said. “Some people encouraged me while I was young and I think it’s the least I can do. I really like children’s ministry, especially first through fourth graders, and these kids were just perfect.”
First grade teacher Crystal Robertson said because their classes have been studying weather and natural disasters, Spann’s visit fits perfectly into their curriculum.
“James Spann is an integral part of our community as someone we can depend on during severe weather-which is especially important since the tornadoes of 2011,” Robertson said. “I remember a meteorologist speaking to my class when I was a second grader. I will never forget his positive influence just as I am sure our students will remember this visit the rest of their lives.”
One of those lives affected was seven-year-old Brody McCluskey who said he wanted to be a meteorologist when he got older. His mother, Jennifer, was responsible for coordinating James Spann to speak at the school.
“One of my favorite parts was when he was talking about the weather reports, tornadoes and when he showed us the thunderstorm that hit the big tower,” Brody said. “I want to be a meteorologist because they help people so they can be safe. They can tell us about storms, and when they are coming, and what time it’s going to be coming.”
Spann said his passion for weather started around Brody’s age and he encourages parents to get involved in their children’s interests, especially if it involves reading.
“A teacher that gave me a book in first grade that changed my life, it was a book about weather,” Spann said. “I bet you I read that book about ten times and it had cloud pictures and weird names for the clouds and I learned them. I didn’t have to, but I learned them and that opened the door for other books. Obviously reading is a big deal for me. Even as an old man, I read every single night when I go home to try and learn something because there’s so much I don’t know. Now with parents helping them, kids can use the Internet and see some amazing videos of weather and learn a lot. They have the world at their finger-tips.”
Principal of Cullman City Primary School Patricia Culpepper said she felt Spann was able to get on the students’ level and discuss the weather in a way they could understand, which made for easy listening by the children.
“I’m sure that you could tell how receptive the students were,” Culpepper said. “Mr. Spann commented to me about well-behaved the students were, and that’s a good accolade for our teachers about how they instill that in our students. He said that he was able to extend the lesson a little bit more because their attentivness was so good. We were really fortunate to have James Spann come and visit with our students. ”
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext 270.