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News: Roane State graduate has passion for teaching music

News: Roane State graduate has passion for teaching music

Josh Allen

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

A Roane State alumnus has an important job, and it's something to sing about.

Josh Allen, who graduated from Roane State in 2006, is the music director at the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute.

That's next door to Roane State's Fentress County campus and is one of two high schools in the county.

"Music is my passion," Allen said. "I enjoy expressing emotions through music."

His duties span all things musical at York Institute, from teaching beginning and advanced choirs to lessons in piano keyboarding to instructing guitar classes.

Allen also oversees what he says is an elite after-school group of singers called Noteworthy. Each semester, Allen offers a variety of music lessons to about 60 of York Institute's 500-plus students.

The son of Mike and Marla Allen of Jamestown, Allen graduated from York Institute in 2003 and received a vocal music scholarship to Roane State.

"I took about all of the (Roane State) music classes that were offered," he said. "Not many of my family members graduated from college, and Roane State was a good fit for me," Allen said.

He admitted he was a bit apprehensive about attending college, but his fears soon eased. "It (Roane State) boosted my confidence in doing what I needed to do to get into a university."

While at Roane State, Allen had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City and in Houston, along with numerous community performances throughout East Tennessee.

He said he was a member of Roane State's Concert Choir and the Celebration Singers and mentions former choral music director Cindy (Clayborn) Stevens, her successor, Brenda Luggie, and Professor Geol Greenlee as inspirations. He also was a recipient of the Outstanding Musicians Award in 2005 from Roane State.

After graduating from Roane State, Allen received his bachelor's degree in elementary education from Tennessee Tech University in 2009. Following graduation, he taught fifth grade math and science at York Elementary for five years.

Allen obtained his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee Tech in 2013 and earned an additional endorsement in music education from Austin Peay State University in 2016.

He and his wife, Amanda, who also is a York Institute educator, have three children, Gavin, 7, Lydia, 5, and Levi, 2.

Allen says he's now working with students who have some fears about attending college. "I can identify with that," he said. Some of his pupils, he says, have chosen Roane State as the next chapter in their education.

To learn more about Roane State’s Fentress County campus, visit or call (931) 752-8320. Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

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