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Spann returns home to GMS

Forecasting live from Greenville Middle School, James Spann returned to his roots this week, expanding young minds on weather and cloud formation. A native of Butler County, Spann said, “Coming back to Greenville is like being dipped in healing waters, and [it was] a bonus getting to teach a little science to some smart fifth graders!”

Spann attended W.O. Parmer Elementary School until the 4th grade. He explained, “I have extremely fond memories of living in Butler County. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Porterfield, gave me a book on weather that started me on the journey I am still on today.”

Spann presented to 200 fifth graders on Thursday, educating them on storm formation, storm identification on the radar, and safety tips for severe weather.

Teacher Lori Martin commented, “He talked about meteorology in general. What type of science it is, and how it encompasses math and geography.” Martin is a science teacher at Greenville Middle School and grew up watching Spann every morning on television. “I first contacted him in early October and he was booked until February.” Delighted to hear from her, she said, “He told me he was from Greenville and agreed. He came down and gave a 45 minute presentation about weather. It was cool.”

His presentation focused on weather safety. Martin said, “He talked about the tornado that came through Tuscaloosa. It was neat to see the areal photos from that day.”

Growing up in Calhoun County, Martin remembers the tragic slew of storms that swept through the state in 2011. “He told them about getting a NOAH weather radio. When the tornados came through April 27th, there was no siren. He said a NOAH Weather Radio is the best thing you can do,” she added.

Fifth grade teacher Stephanie Connor said, “He talked about safety in storms and staying inside. […] He explained how they should have helmets.”

Conner emphasized his rapport with the students. “He is a very energetic person. He was showing them videos of lightning striking.”

Spann’s presentation was very interactive. He asked the group many questions and requested the help of one student. “He captivated them about the weather. They really enjoyed it,” Connor added.

He also explained the importance of the weather balloon that is released everyday at 6 a.m. from the Shelby County airport. Martin said, “He told about the clouds, Doppler radar, and the weather balloon. […] they all left exclaiming how they were going home to find a weather balloon.”

Thanking Spann for his visit, the class presented him with a “Weather Balloon” cake.

Inspiring the next generation of meteorologists, Spann said, “I had a great time today visiting with the 5th graders. They were good listeners, engaged, and smart. Hopefully a few might get an interest in meteorology like I did at a young age.”