Bea Lyons '60

Beatrice “Bea” Lyons ’60 is a retired community college educator, an active community volunteer, a staunch advocate for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, and a lifelong member of First Christian Church Chattanooga. Although she is now retired as Associate Professor of American Sign Language Studies at Chattanooga State, where she was a faculty member for 35 years, she is also recognized for her expertise in oral interpreting and deaf education. She has volunteered in the greater Chattanooga community since her teenage years and still participates in varied community college endeavors. Lyons was also a founding member of the Chattanooga Mayor’s Council on Disability, where she served as vice chair for three years, and a decades-long member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society and Daughters of the American Revolution.
Lyons brings to community service her positive spirit, her quiet preference for “working behind the scenes to get things done,” her organizational skills, and a wealth of knowledge and experience about people with disabilities, especially those living with hearing loss. She has received numerous local, regional, and national honors over the years for her dedication and community service to others. Her most recent proud recognition, GPS Notable Alumna for 2020, caught her by surprise.
Lyons currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, close to her son Franklin Daniels and his family. She has connected with Virginia chapters of DAR, HLAA and DKG so that she may continue being an active volunteer and make a difference for others.
As a woman living with deafness and a two-time cancer survivor, she feels truly blessed and fulfilled by a life of teaching, community service, and love of family. Life is good!

Q. How did you get into what you’re doing now? Did you always know you wanted to teach? 
Teaching has always been a given. I loved it and performed well during my college training. I’ve known since a very young age that I wanted to teach and to make a difference for students.

Q. Why are you passionate about what you do?
A. I loved teaching, guiding students through their lessons, and helping to make a difference in their futures. Youth deserve to enjoy learning with qualified teachers to prepare them for interesting lives and to motivate them to want to perform well as adults.
Q. What was your favorite tradition at GPS? Why?
A. May Day! I loved May Day and the excitement of performing with classmates, and joining my class in formal presentation as a senior to share the beauty and history of the GPS May Day tradition was incredible. Still have fond memories of those times.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice to current GPS students, what would it be?
A. My advice to students would be for them to do their very best in class every day, to work well with classmates, and to enjoy their entire GPS experience; in short: LOVE IT!
Q. Do you stay in touch with your classmates? What impact have they had on your life?
A. Over the 60+ years since graduation, I’ve stayed in touch with several classmates, attended college with a few, served organizations with a few, yet not been close in touch frequently enough. There are a handful with whom I’ve stayed close; however, each time I attended a class reunion, those times together have been terrific, delightful, and fun.
Q. Can you point to anything that GPS did to prepare you for college and your career?
A. GPS prepared me well academically to perform my duties and to want to become a caring teacher and provided the best of writing skills, critical thinking skills, self-confidence, and courtesy needed to work with others.
Q. What is a GPS girl to you? 
A. A loving woman, young or old, who maintains quiet confidence, is friendly, relates well with others, and who presents herself positively, gracefully, and professionally in everything she does.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?
A. Receiving the gift of my son, Franklin, who has become a wonderful man, son, husband, and father in his own way; and the gift of my granddaughter, Sara Catharine, who is a delightful, bright young lady with lovely gifts and talents of her own … both of whom treat this mom/nana with the greatest care and love. It simply doesn’t get any better than that!
Q. Are there any quotes that really resonate with you/guide you in your daily pursuits? 
A. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Q. Are there any experiences or memories from your time at GPS that really stand out?
A. Because of my hearing loss, I was unique and the only GPS girl in the entire school who wore hearing aids, often leading to a not so positive impression from other girls who simply did not understand. I learned to not pay attention to others’ thoughts and comments and carried on quietly with serious study to prepare myself for college and for a career in teaching. My years at GPS were good years, productive, pleasant, informative, knowledgeable, and even, at times, fun. I loved and excelled in the modern dance program for five of my six years at GPS. Being unique from other GPS girls taught me how to become fully prepared for all aspects of future life—good, not so good, difficult, independent, and wonderful experiences.