December 4, 2007
Tifton -- Kids often participate in Christmas programs with parents making sure their children get to seemingly endless practices and finding the right clothes for them to wear.
Some of them might ask: What does my child get out of participating in holiday productions?
Plenty, if you know Matthew Crumley's story.
If practice makes perfect, then the perfect meteorological presentation will appear on TV sets in about 10 years.
"It fascinates me a lot," says Matthew, as he types on a computer keyboard in his mom's classroom.
He has an intense fascination with the science of weather uncommon for a 12-year-old.
"I'm on the computer looking at it," says Matthew who bookmarked several weather sites.
The pre-teen thinks about the weather almost all his waking hours, including the family vacation one year.
"I said, 'Mama look at that cloud.' It was a wild cloud, a super-cell cloud that almost formed a tornado," says Matthew about a waterspout that came close to striking land.
You could call him an obsessed young man who finds the more weather information the better, who already knows where he wants to concentrate his budding meteorological talents.
"I like severe weather and forecasting," says Matthew.
After school, he goes to his mom's classroom for access to the Internet, gets the latest weather information from numerous sources, and creates his own report. Then he simulates a real TV broadcast.
He has loyal viewers.
"Sometimes we're ready to go home and we decide to stay here because Matthew has predicted bad weather. We stayed here instead of leaving because we knew it was going to be dangerous," says Tammy King, who frequently stops by during the make-believe presentation and who taught Matthew in the second grade.
His granddad relies on his weather reports, as well.
"When he tells me to spread some fertilizer, I take it serious. I do it, and most of the time he comes out right," says Jackie Crumley who farms 200 acres near Omega, in Tift County.
What precipitated Matthew's interest in weather?
Church Christmas programs removed any fog of doubt. Matthew was two years old and had speaking parts in holiday productions. From those experiences he found that he liked speaking to audiences.
At three, he started understanding TV weather programs, and with the help of his grandmother, started drawing weather maps. He didn't know it at the time, but Matthew forecast his own career in meteorology 10 years ago.
"Yes, sir," says the well manner pre-teen.
At four, he practiced presenting the weather, something that he still does more than eight years later in a simulated studio behind his home.
A tripod found by his dad at a land fill holds a Polaroid camera that represents a studio camera. Matthew looks into its lens as if looking into a real one.
A button on an old camera flash unit provides the feel of a real remote control used with real weathercasts.
Matthew spends hours practicing his weather presentation in his mom's classroom and in his backyard studio.
Who would have ever thought of the impact of a church Christmas program helping a pre-teen find his life's ambition? What a lasting gift.