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MSU alumna takes teaching position at Hindman Settlement School

Sarah Kate MorganSarah Kate Morgan (19), of Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, has spent her life making music, playing the mountain dulcimer. When she came to MSU, she wanted to incorporate her love of music into her studies. So, she chose a degree in traditional music with a double minor in Appalachian studies and arts entrepreneurship. She was the first traditional music student to choose the mountain dulcimer as her specialty instrument. Earlier this year, she landed what she calls her dream job as folk arts education director at the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County.   

The school offers educational opportunities to students with dyslexia and their families, manages and organizes community outreach program,  and offers programming that promotes the rich cultural heritage of Eastern Kentucky.   

"The Hindman Settlement School has served the changing needs of Knott county and Eastern Kentucky for over 100 years and I was thrilled to serve as part of this historic institution. This was one of my dream jobs for a long time and I'm beyond the moon that I was brought on in August," Morgan said. "This job exists at the perfect intersection of preserving traditional music and folk arts, educating young folks and building community, all things I deeply care about."  

Morgan said she chose to study at MSU because of the campus's welcoming environment and the uniqueness of the traditional music program.   

"There are so few traditional music programs in higher education and Morehead felt like the perfect fit for me. I loved the size of the campus and student body; it's not so huge that it doesn't feel like home. And Eastern Kentucky has an incredibly rich traditional music community and I wanted to attend school in a place where I could be a part of it," she said.   

MSU's traditional music program offers an intensive study of bluegrass, old-time, country, western swing, blues, ballad singing, Celtic, gospel and more while receiving hands-on experience through performance opportunities, outreach events with experienced faculty members, and interaction with musical artists and professionals in the industry. Morgan praised her professors in all her programs of study and said everything she studied at MSU prepared her for her career.  

"I play music every single day as part of my work, so all the work I spent perfecting my craft as a musician and all the related skills like studio recording, music theory, performance skills, and music history, was time incredibly well spent. I use those skills on a daily basis. In addition to playing music with kids, I like to provide historical and cultural context for the songs we sing. Because of the music history and Appalachian history classes I took, I'm able to provide the kids within depth background to the music of this region and help them find their own place in this region's music," she said.   

Raymond McLain, director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, said Morgan came to MSU with a wealth of experience in music production, and he knew she would go on to do great things.   

"Some students come and they have a lot of professional experience. In Sarah's case, she came to us already having made several commercial recordings. But, she never rested on her laurels. She was always doing things that were expanding her experience and skills," McLain said. "When she graduated, I knew she was going to do great things somewhere, and I think the Hindman Settlement School is the perfect place for her. She's a wonderful representative of MSU and our whole mountain culture."   

To learn more about the Hindman Settlement School, visit  

For information about MSU's Kentucky Center for Traditional Music and its programs, visit, email or call 606-783-9001.
Photo credit: Sarah Kate Morgan