Musical Gift: MCHS welcomes new band director from Tipton County

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

The gift of music has consumed Kreston Smith from the day he was born.

Now the lifelong musician is ready to compose his next musical piece at Millington Central High School as the band director replacing Megan Woodring.

“The door opened here, so I applied on a Sunday night,” Smith said July 23 to The Star. “Monday afternoon I got a call. Wednesday I had an interview. The following Monday I was hired. That was two weeks ago. The young lady before me did a great job of building a very strong concert band — Mrs. Megan Woodring.”

Now Smith has taken over the MCHS Marching and Concert bands. The Atoka resident and interim worship pastor at Millington’s Crosspointe is used to double duty in the education field.

Smith had to bid farewell to Crestview Middle and Covington High schools where he led both program since 2014. The husband of Elizabeth Smith and father of three sons dedicated several hours toward rebuilding the band programs at the two Tipton County schools.

He grew the enrollment of both Covington bands after starting with about 40 students. Crestview and Covington went on to win numerous honors and awards like All-West Tennessee Honor Band, UT-Martin Honor Band and several marching band festivals like the grand champions at Union City and Crockett County.

Although the achievements and number of students involved kept growing, Smith hit a crossroad in his life. The typical day for Smith guiding two programs was sending his “planning period” in his car grabbing a quick lunch on the way to the other school.

Smith contemplated going into the ministry full time and taking a break from the career he worked hard to begin. Before joining the education field, Smith went into sells with success.

But his heart was longing for his true passion of music. So he pursued his degree while owning and operating the Bartlett Music Academy for 12 years.

Smith was a contractor at Arlington High School as a jazz band director for four years while teaching and tutoring music.

“I wasn’t a full time public schools teacher because I had to go back to college and finish my student-teacher,” he recalled. “So I had all my degree hours but lacked that. I graduated in ’09. And in 2010 I left Arlington because I took a job with the state licensed at Munford Elementary. I taught music and choir there. I had a bunch of great kids.”

Smith was once that child who had a love for music and singing.

“Music I’ve been doing since I was 15 months old,” he recalled. “I learned my first song ‘Amazing Grace’ when I was 5 years old on the piano. I started playing guitar at 8 years old because my cousin played. I started playing saxophone when I was 12 because my uncle played. I ended up doing the Jazz Band at Raleigh-Egypt High School. I graduated in ’91.”

Smith went on to graduate several students in Tipton County and now is prepared to do the same in Millington.

“My goal is to try to elevate the program and build it,” he said. “I want to build relationships with the community and leadership. I want to do whatever we can to promote school spirit, collaboration with connections other departments like the cheering squad and football team.

“We want to provide pep and spirit like on defense so we can distract the offense,” Smith added. “With all those different ideas, we can promote a very positive program that is built on the spirit of the school and community.”

Smith is proud to be a part of the Trojan family and is looking forward to sharing his gift of music with young minds.

“I am honored to be here,” he said. “I am in a band room that looks amazing. I will have a planning period and my focus will be primarily high school band.

“This allows me to plug into my community and it allows me to be a part of a place I am already worshiping,” Smith concluded. “Where I am already leading other to Christ through worship and prayer. I want to be example. Somehow and someway this is a part of that puzzle. It allows me to be an influence in this community of Millington.”

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