photo: 12-22 heather smith neighbors
Heather Smith directs third-grade students as they sing Christmas songs at CARE Nursing and Rehabilitation on Dec. 13.
EARLY — Heather Smith never intended to become a music major when she enrolled at Tarleton State University.
Yes, she'd been a member of the Stephenville High School band, and she'd played with the band at Gordon Wood Stadium in football games between her the Yellow Jackets and Lions.
But Smith planned on majoring in pre-med.
That changed before she ever made it out of her freshman year — not because she couldn't make it in pre-med, but because music got ahold of her.
Now, Smith is the music teacher at Early Elementary School and Early Primary School. She's in her first year at Early after working for six years as the choir director at an Odessa middle school.
Smith and her husband, Clayton, are parents of three daughters, ages, 7, 5 and 1. Clayton Smith, who is from May, works at Comanche County Medical Center.
Smith said she enjoys her job and is pleased to be in a district that values music and supports what she does.
At Stephenville High School, Smith was a dual threat — band (bassoon) and athletics. When she enrolled at Tarleton, she "just for fun" joined both the choir and the band. The choir director encouraged her to continue studying music.
"They sucked me in," Smith joked. "I couldn't see my life without music. It has a special place in my heart. There was no turning back after that."
She continued on with music education and student-taught in Granbury before landing the Odessa job.
When asked to explain her love for music, Smith replied, "There's something about live music. Music in schools and ensembles — it's being part of something really special. … in that moment where everyone breaths and thinks and sounds as one is pretty special."
Smith acknowledged that sometimes it would be nice to have the larger income she would've earned in the medical field. "But honestly, I don't have any real regrets," she said, because music is what brings her joy.