Lindsay Smith did not, initially, want to teach in high school. But she did, and as they say, it worked out.
Smith did not want to become a school administrator. But she did, and that too worked out.
As an associate principal at Brownwood High School, Smith was content in that job and didn’t want to be principal. But when then-principal Mitch Moore got promoted to the district’s central office, Smith applied to be the new principal.
And, that worked out.
After after being named the school’s first female principal late in the 2019-’20 school year, the 15-year education veteran is excited about starting her first full year as principal, despite the challenges presented by COVID.
"I am very excited about school starting," Smith said. "While I do think COVID is something we need to be mindful of as a community and a school, it has not dampened my enthusiasm."
Smith has been with the Brownwood school district since 2013. She spent a year teaching at what was then known as the alternative school, then came to Brownwood High School as an associate principal — same thing as assistant principal, Smith said.
She and her husband, Mike, are the parents of Lucy, 6, and Hank, 3. Mike Smith, an attorney, ran opposed in the Republican Party primary for judge of the 35th Judicial District. He does not have a Democrat opponent in the November general election.
"This is where my husband went to school. It’s where my kids will go to school. It’s been fun in that regard," Smith said of Brownwood High School.
Education, for Smith, has been a fulfilling career.
"I’m from Big Lake Texas," Smith said. "I’m a Reagan County Owl. I graduated from high school in 2000."
She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Texas at Permian Basin, and later earned teacher, principal and superintendent certifications — although Smith said she doesn’t want to be a superintendent.
Smith got into education because "I fell in love with the English language in high school and I enjoyed my English teacher," Smith said. "I went to get my degree in English. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with a fine arts degree.
"I decided to get my master’s in English and I started teaching at the college level — 1301 and 1302 English at UTPB in Midland. Just one thing led to another."
Smith — who had not yet married Mike and had the last name of Loftin — taught in college as a teaching assistant while working on her master’s degree. After graduating with a master’s, Smith looked online for job postings.
"There was a job opening in Tyler to teach English," Smith said. "And I did an alternative certification program. I had no intention, in high school or in college, of teaching at the high school level. I always thought if I taught, it would be at the college level."
Smith went to work teaching AP English at Tyler Lee High School.
"It was a great experience," Smith said. "I fell in love with education. I fell in love with teaching kids and the importance and value of the English language and writing, and the power of words."
Smith saw an opening posted in the Tyler district for the job of instructional coach. "They were looking for people to become an instructional coach in English," Smith said. "I had no interest in it whatsoever. I enjoyed teaching AP English, I enjoyed junior English."
One day, Smith was teaching a class when the school’s principal entered.
"Miss Loftin, can I speak with you?" the principal asked.
The two stepped into the hallway.
"He said ‘I need you to apply for the instructional coach job,’" Smith recalled. "I said ‘I have no interest in that.’ He said ‘well, go ahead and apply and see what happens.’
"I applied, reluctantly. I went to the interview, reluctantly. I got the job. I’d been in the classroom probably five or six years and I liked it. I just really liked the 11th grade — the kids, the wit, just everything about it."
Smith took the job of instructional coach because her principal told her, "I’ve already filled your English position. You have to take it."
Smith found that she liked her new job. "It was the best of both worlds," Smith said. "As an educator you get to go in and you get to teach kids.
"You get to work with teachers and kids but you have none of the grading. You have none of the stress of a regular teacher but you just get to do what you love and teach kids and teach teachers."
Smith had the job of instructional coach for a year.
"The same guy came to me and said ‘I need you to apply for an administrator’s job,’" Smith said. "I said ‘I don’t want to be an administrator.’ "He said ‘well just apply and see what happens.’
"I did it again and I just applied to see what happens. I had no intention of taking it. I went to the interview reluctantly. He called me that evening and said ‘I’m going to offer you the job as the records and scheduling coordinator of Tyler Lee High School.’"
Smith told the man she didn’t want the job.
"He said ‘I already have somebody for the instructional coach job so you’re going to have to take it.’" Smith said. "So I did that and I just kind of fell in love with that area of education, being able to support and uplift others who are in the trenches."
Smith said the man "saw things in me I didn’t see in myself. I will forever be grateful to him."
Smith met the man she would marry through mutual friends. "He was already in Brownwood, an attorney," Smith said. "We started to date long distance, and here I am."
Smith moved to Brownwood in 2013 because of Mike Smith. There were no administrative job opening in the Brownwood school district that year, so Smith took a job teaching in the district’s alternative school.
"They don’t even have the accelerated high school any more," Smith said. "It was teaching at-risk ninth and 10th-grade English, and I took it and did it for a year."
The following year, Smith became an associate principal at Brownwood High School.
"I wanted to be part of the community because I was going to live here," Smith said. "My husband had grown up here. We were going to raise our kids here. Mike has always been a Brownwood Lion at heart. He went away to law school in Colorado and wanted to come home.
"He made it very clear before we got married, this is where we’re going to be. I just remember coming to Brownwood and thinking that the school system was such a nice complement to what you want in a smaller community, but it’s not so small that kids don’t have the chance to become individuals and explore different options. So I just was always real excited about Brownwood and Brownwood High School."
Smith said she was very comfortable, as an associate principal, working with then-principal Mitch Moore, and she had no intention at the time of becoming the principal.
"He’s given me tons of opportunities," Smith said. "And I liked my work with career tech education that I did as an assistant principal."
Once Moore got promoted to the job of assistant superintendent of business and finance, Smith’s goals changed.
"I did want to be the Brownwood Hight school principal when Mr. Moore left," Smith said. "However, until he transitioned to another job, I had no desire to move up. I was very happy as an associate principal. I applied, and I’ve been blessed."