Band instructor takes new direction
Leaving on a high note

Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

July 18, 2005 - After much personal introspection, Kelley Fletcher made what she considered a very difficult decision to change her future outlook by handing in her resignation June 30 as a band director at Sulphur Springs Middle School, a decision made while traveling home from Fort Worth the last Saturday in June.

An hour later, her prayers were answered in the form of a recorded phone message from DeSoto asking her to interview for the head band director opening at West Junior High, the band instructor said.

"Once I decided that a change needed to be made and I knew I would resign regardless of a new job or not, I received a message from DeSoto asking me to call. They were very interested in having me interview for their head job at DeSoto West, and I felt like a door had been opened and my prayers were being answered," Fletcher said.

She called back and an interview was scheduled in quick order for Monday. The school has reviewed more than 100 resumes. Fletcher was the 25th and final applicant called for a formal interview conducted by four of the district's eight band directors.

"I was very surprised when they were all grinning from ear to ear, asked me to step out of the conference room for a moment, and then asked me back and said they thought I would be perfect for the job," according to an exuberant Fletcher.

She signed the contract for the head band director's post at DeSoto West Junior High on July 11, and is slated to begin work on July 20.

"The DeSoto ISD is excited to have someone of Kelley Fletcher's experience taking over the head director's position at DeSoto West Junior High. Her experience and love of teaching will fit into our exciting team of band directors in the DeSoto ISD," said Harry D. Blake, DeSoto's director of bands and 43 year teacher.

"I am looking forward to being treated with dignity and respect amongst a strong group of devoted music educators who believe in teamwork," Fletcher said. "It will be so wonderful to have another director helping with sectionals before and after school, and the high school director has already been very encouraging and appreciative of my abilities thus far."

Fletcher's new post will be directing the Wind Symphony as well as the Symphonic Band I and team-teaching Symphonic Band II. She will travel in the afternoons with another director to one of the two intermediate schools to teach beginning band classes. She will also assist in teaching sectionals before and after school. Fletcher is noted for a long history of sweepstakes bands including a performance at the prestigious Mid-West Band Clinic in Chicago in 1996. She was also asked to assist with the after school marching rehearsals when possible, and summer band rehearsals, which begin July 20.

"We certainly wish Kelley, Ms. Fletcher, well. We know she has interviewed before and looked at jobs in the Metroplex," said SSISD Head Band Director Charles McCauley. "We certainly thank her for the work she had done for us. This will be a good opportunity for her to expand her career."

During the first four of her her seven years instructing in Sulphur Springs, Fletcher assisted with the marching band. Since she started in 1998, the middle school band program has expanded from 170 to 270 musicians. The eighth grade band has taken the coveted sweepstakes title four of the six years Fletcher directed them on stage, an honor SSMS band program had not earned since 1985. She was instrumental in the inception of the middle school jazz band.

DeSoto West's band program, which includes an intermediate school beginning band, is approximately the same size as Sulphur Springs' 270 member 2C middle school band. DeSoto also has a 5A high school which is housed in a new $100 million building and includes a 15,000-square foot music complex, two 3C middle schools, two intermediate schools and is considering constructing another middle school and possibly another high school within the next few years to keep up with the rapid population growth in the area.

If the "pretty country," and enthusiasm and welcome from her new coworkers wasn't incentive enough, the school's new music complex is another nice perk Fletcher will enjoy in her new job.

"The music complex appears to be as big, or bigger than our administration building. It is a 15,000 square foot facility that will house three rehearsal halls, a recording studio, practice room, offices, music library and uniform storage. The high school program has four concert bands, a jazz band, steel band, and a marching band with percussion and color guard that are both involved with winter guard and winter percussion," Fletcher said of her new school digs.

While she eagerly embraces her new job, Fletcher said letting go of SSISD, her alma mater and where she has taught the last seven years, is going to be much more difficult - after all, returning to SSISD to teach was the realization of a long-time goal and dream.

"Sulphur Springs will always be my home. I feel a great deal of indebtedness to this community. May people in Sulphur Springs have seen me through several very difficult and challenging times with their prayers, as well as their words of encouragement and love," Fletcher said.

"Some people might say that because I am single, I have no ties to this community. That statement could not be further from the truth. Because I am single, I have made this community my life. Having the opportunity to teach the children of Sulphur Springs, including children of my high school friends from 25 years ago, has been such a blessing, along with singing in the church choir and playing in the church orchestra. I have also been honored with the opportunity to play at funerals, military services, dedications, as well as sesquicentennial celebration, and the 4th of July concerts on the square. I am committed to Sulphur Springs; I bought my home here. I have not left this town, just my teaching assignment," she explained.

Fletcher plans to keep her residence in Sulphur Springs, and said she will commute the 45 minute drive from her mother's to DeSoto until she can find more permanent accommodations closer to work. She also plans to continue as a freelance trumpet player and a featured soloist with the Jack Melick Orchestra out of Dallas on weekends.

She isn't the only one who will be commuting to work in the near future. Christie Roye, who was hired Monday, June 11 to fill the vacancy left by Fletcher's resignation, will also be doing quite a bit of driving, at least for while.

Roye said she has just recently moved into a brand new home in Forney, from which she will be driving to Sulphur Springs at least for a while until other arrangements can be made.

"I'm very excited to be here. I can't wait to get started. This is a great opportunity," Roye said earlier this week.

"We're very excited to have her. She will do primarily what Kelley's job was. I feel fortunate to fine someone of her quality, particularly this late in the summer," McCauley said of the new band instructor.

Roye is a graduate of Hallsville high school and Baylor University. She has 5 years total experience. She served as drum line instructor, was junior high director and assisted at the high school in Crandall for the past two years.

"I heard what she had done there, and I called and she agreed to come interview. I think the kids are going to love her. She has a great personality," said McCauley. "One of the most impressive things about Christie during the interview, is that she really has a lover for middle school age kids. We found she can relate to high school and middle school age kids. That's impressive. Kelley resigned on June 30. We're fortunate [Roye] was available," McCauley said.

Roye signed the contract with the district on Wednesday, July 13, and will begin assisting with the summer band program at the high school.

"I know the new female band director/trumpet player that Mr. McCauley sought out to come interview will be so happy to teach at SSMS," Fletcher said. "She will find that there is not a better group of young people anywhere that can compare to our kids. She will also be blessed to be in such a wonderful town with such special people. I wish Ms. Roye my very best!"

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