Bettylene Franzus

Bettylene Franzus
2009 Award of Honor

Mrs. Bettylene W. Franzus graduated from ETSU in 1975 with a master's degree in microbiology after completing a B.S. in science at the University of Illinois in 1950. Franzus worked as a clinical microbiologist at hospitals in Greeneville, Tenn., and then moved on to work as a research assistant with many doctors, including Abraham Verghese, M.D., in the Internal Medicine department at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine.

Following her retirement from Quillen as a medical technologist, Franzus traveled to the Atoll of Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands from 2002 to 2007. While there, she taught science, revised and developed curriculum formats and created a curriculum for students in the Health Academy based on the National Health Care Skill Standards. In 2005, Franzus was named Employee of the Month by Marshall Islands High School and has been featured in local publications for her service to the students in the Marshall Islands.

Franzus was featured in a Time magazine article titled, "Volunteer Army" in 2003 highlighting her work with WorldTeach in the Marshall Islands. The article illustrated her life as a high school science teacher in the foreign country, noting that she was not only teaching science, but English as a Second Language, as well, due to the students' difficulty with English. Not only did her science books crumble in the salt air, but the school at which she taught had no janitor, leaving Franzus to mop floors, sweep coral dust, and empty trash cans. At this time, Franzus was 75 years of age and was quoted as saying, "I really believe that because I must use both my body and my mind in this endeavor, I have probably kept myself in greater mental and physical health than might be true otherwise."

In 2003, the WorldTeach Dispatch noted Franzus' implementation of an after-school tutoring program at the Marshall Islands high school at which she taught. Franzus also co-authored an article in 1987 for the journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, with Abraham Verghese, among others.

Franzus now resides in Johnson City and is pursuing a second master's degree at ETSU in school library media and archival studies. She and her husband, the late Dr. Boris Franzus of the ETSU Chemistry Department, had three sons, Benjamin, David, and Martin.