Teaching is her passion

Published 10:51 am Saturday, June 1, 2013


Betty Darden holds a picture of the book on the last 10 years of Barnes United Methodist Church. -- MERLE MONAHAN/TIDEWATER NEWS

Betty Darden holds a picture of the book on the last 10 years of Barnes United Methodist Church. — MERLE MONAHAN/TIDEWATER NEWS

NEWSOMS—If anyone ever dedicated their life to education, it would have to be Betty Worrell Darden.

The 83-year-old mother of four and grandmother of five has spent more than 50 years teaching in the Franklin-Southampton County area. What’s more, she’s still at it.

Darden is a county substitute schoolteacher. She is actually “on call,’ meaning she works when needed.

But almost every morning for the last few years from Monday through Friday, she has arrived at one of the county schools to fill in. It could be at the high school, or one of the elementary schools. She never knows until she gets a call from the school asking her to teach.

What she does know, however, is that her part-time job has turned out to be full-time.

“But I love it,” she said with a smile. “I’m very fortunate in that I still get to work at what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Darden lives on the family farm, Sunny Acres, on Statesville Road near Newsoms. Born in Franklin, she says her family moved to the more than 200-acre farm in 1935 and she has lived there ever since.

She attended Newsoms elementary and high school, then on to Louisburg North Carolina Junior College after graduation. She earned her degree in education at East Carolina College (now university).

She noted with a pride that four generations of her family have attended East Carolina.

Her first teaching job was alternating classes between Newsoms and Boykins, where, she said, “I’d teach at one school in the morning and the other in the afternoon.”

She kept this schedule for one year, and then took time off to have two of her children.

When the children were old enough for her to leave them, she secured a job at Franklin High School, where she taught for the next nine years, during and after which time, her last two children were born.

When all of her children were old enough to care for themselves, Darden went back to teaching, taking a job at Paul D. Camp College, from where she retired in 1995 after 25 years.

After two years outside of the classroom, however, Darden could stand it no longer. She was working as a typist and writer at The Tidewater News, but she missed teaching. This is when she took on the job as substitute teacher.

An only child, Darden says she has never wanted to do anything other than teach. “That was my passion and I feel the same way today. I look forward to walking into the classroom and getting to know the students.

She grins when she talks about her students over the years.

“For the most part, the students are eager to learn,” she said, “but sometimes you will get one who’d rather be elsewhere—like on the baseball field, or engaged in a special hobby. “

“But it doesn’t take long to get their attention back to the classroom,” she added.

With a schedule such as Darden’s, it would seem that she would not have time for anything else. Not so.

Always interested in her community, she is currently involved in several community activities — the Newsoms Ruritan Club being one. A past president of the club, she now serves as secretary.

The volunteer program at Southampton Memorial Hospital is another. She spends her time at the front desk, she said, and was recently commended for having served 1,400 hours.

But the time she spends in service to her church, Barnes United Methodist, is very special.

“That’s the church I’ve attended all my life,” she said, “and it means so much to me. I try to help as much as I can.”

Indeed, Darden’s assistance goes beyond the call of duty. She teaches the adult ladies Sunday School class every fifth Sunday and as publicity chairman, contacts outside news sources about any upcoming events at the church. The most recent is the church’s 210th anniversary to be observed at a special service on June 9.

To help celebrate, Darden has written an account of the church’s last 10 years, which will be available at the service. A history of the church up until 2003 has already been written.


NAME: Betty Worrell Darden
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was born in Franklin and moved to the Newsoms area in 1935.
HOMETOWN: Franklin.
OCCUPATION: I actually retired from teaching in 1995, but have worked as a substitute teacher for the past 16 years.
MARITAL STATUS: I have been a widow since 1992.
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: I have four children, Bill, Betty Gee, Barbara and Bobby. They are all grown with their own families.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Going out to eat a good seafood dinner with close friends.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT: John’s Seafood in Murfreesboro, N. C.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL AND BEVERAGE: A seafood combo and sweet iced tea.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I played for the Louisburg Junior College basketball team.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I am community minded. In other words, I enjoy being involved in community activities, like the Ruritan Club and the hospital volunteer program.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I don’t know how to say no.
PETS: I have two cats.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I enjoy watching ball games.
PET PEEVE: I can’t tolerate disrespectful drivers.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a teacher who made a positive difference in my students’ lives, both past and present.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: My topic would be non-profit organizations. I would urge people to participate by supporting them both financially and physically. Help with the fundraising, serve on a committee and above all, contribute financially. These organizations like Relay for Life, the Red Cross, even your local hospital and local fire and rescue, help so much. It just takes a little of your time to make a huge difference in the life of someone who needs our help.