James Spann visits East Elementary sixth graders on Monday

James Spann presents from the stage for an excited crowd of sixth graders Monday (Photo from Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Sixth graders from East Elementary received a visit on Monday from ABC 33/40’s, and Alabama’s favorite, weatherman James Spann. Everyone gathered at St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church to hear Spann present on the science involved in predicting weather, geography and the importance of helping others.

East Elementary Principal David Wiggins said, “It is a culmination of the Weather Studies in Mrs. Collins’ class. She does the science classes, and extending that learning is fantastic. He has been overwhelmingly supportive of our school since we started asking him to come, a decade or so ago. This is the first year he is back since he did not get to come last year, and it is amazing to have him. He is just so personal with the kids. He always has been.”

Spann reviewed several topics with the students such as weather balloons, the water cycle, the different types of clouds, thunderstorms, lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes and tornado safety. The children listened intently as Spann explained, “It is not about you, it is all about being there for and helping others.”

James Spann shared with The Tribune, “This is the best part of my day. The kids, they energize me. You know, some people, this exhausts them but for some reason, I feed back from their energy.”

Spann laughed, “Third grade is the sweet spot. They understand sarcasm, so they think you’re funny, you can teach them 6th grade level stuff, and they don’t smell bad yet. It’s funny, I think I was just wired to teach third grade.”

James Spann has been an integral part of Alabama’s weather culture since joining ABC 33/40 in 1996, after being offered a position reporting on dangerous weather situations around the clock. He has reported the weather for the entirety of the lives of the two youngest generations of Alabama, and been an easy smile in times of panic, as families and friends make quiet jokes of ‘polygons’ and ‘rolled up sleeves.’

In an article written by 280Living, after the historic 2011 tornadoes, Randy Palmer of Tuscaloosa is quoted saying, “James Spann has probably saved more lives in central Alabama than penicillin.”

Spann’s mission is to help and save as many people as he possibly can from severe weather events, and to teach students to do the same.

“I focus on those who have died, not the ones who survived. And at some point, we should celebrate the ones who lived. I am not ready to do that yet, but I am getting close,” he said.

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