Celebrating Betty Lyons: 43 years of making a difference at Durham Tech
Betty Lyons, director of Adult Basic Education, is emotional when she talks about leaving her career of 43 years behind, tearing up as she talks about the students she has worked with over the years.
She started in July of 1980 as a part-time GED instructor. Later, then-President Phail Wynn, who was hard to say no to, according to Lyons, asked her to take on Compensatory Education. It was a role she was initially apprehensive about, but ultimately found extremely rewarding and stayed in the position about 10 years.
“It was really a great experience,” Lyons said.
She went on to hold several positions at Durham Tech, retiring as director of Adult Basic Education on June 30, 2023.
Her impact on the College has been significant.
Dr. Marguerita Best, executive director for College and Career Readiness, praised Lyons for the role she has played in working to serve all students.
“Over the past 43 years, Betty Lyons has had a positive impact on students and the college in many ways,” Best said. “As director of Adult Basic Education and First Step programs, she has overseen the department's growth and development, and has helped to ensure that students are adequately prepared for adult high school and high school equivalency classes. She has also been a strong advocate for students and has worked to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all students.”
Lyons has helped develop the department’s direction and has been a great resource for her colleagues, Best said.
“In addition to her work with students, Betty has helped to shape the department's mission and vision,” Best said. “She is a respected colleague and mentor and has helped to build a strong sense of community among the College and Career Readiness faculty and staff.”
Durham Tech retiree Gregory Bellamy, who was the longtime Dean of College and Career Readiness, worked closely with Lyons.
“Betty has the same level of commitment and love for her work today as when I met her 23 years ago,” he said. “There are thousands — more like tens of thousands — of students who embraced their second chance at success through adult literacy because of her support, guidance, and quite often, frank lessons on what it means to persevere.”
Bellamy said he valued Lyons’ guidance and collaboration, and admired how highly regarded she is by community college employees across the state.
“She has provided strong leadership and always stood ready to assist me in those times that I had completely run out of solutions,” Bellamy said. “Well respected by her colleagues across North Carolina, she is the embodiment of what it means to be a servant leader, and the perfect example to all of what’s possible when you find and remain true to your purpose. I am proud to say that she has remained a colleague and a true friend.”
Best said Lyons’ presence will be missed at Durham Tech, but she leaves a lasting legacy.
“Betty's positive impact on students and the college is evident in the many successes that have been achieved over the past 43 years. Betty has been a true asset to College and Career Readiness and Durham Tech, and her contributions will continue to be felt for many years to come.”
Lyons speaks fondly of her time at the College.
“What I’ve really enjoyed most is the ability to be creative and flexible,” Lyons said. “Every day is something new. I have never, ever been bored.”
Lyons notes that she was the very first person in her department to receive a computer.
“I’ve been blessed to work with a wonderful team of people who liked to help other people,” Lyons said. “Being able to help people, to help students achieve their goals, be their cheerleader at graduation is what has made this so fulfilling and worthwhile.”
What is next for Lyons? Her sisters are taking her on a cruise this fall to celebrate her retirement. She also doesn't plan to entirely close the book on Durham Tech. She said people likely will be seeing her around campus in the future because there are some classes she wants to take.
“I just want to have fun,” she said.