Ted Wadley – Tireless Champion for Students

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Ted Wadley. Photo by Bill Roa

Ted Wadley. (Photo by Bill Roa)

by Rebecca Rakoczy

For the past 20 years, Ted Wadley quietly inspired Georgia Perimeter College English students to push themselves, to believe in themselves.


GPC alumna Sara Drum, now an Emory Hospital cardiac care nurse with master’s degrees in nursing and public health, recalls Wadley’s confidence building as what gave her the courage to go further in her studies than she ever thought possible.


“Ted Wadley is one of those instructors who encourages students to achieve highly and develop personal interests,” says Drum, who received the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship in 2003. “He is an absolute gem of an instructor and a very fine human.”


Over the years, Wadley became a tireless champion for high-achieving students, such as Drum,  helping them apply for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship to continue their studies.


But it was students who struggled academically who first attracted him to teaching. His early days at the college in the 1990s were as an instructional support services coordinator on the Decatur Campus, working with students in remedial English. He moved to Dunwoody in 2008.


Wadley, who retired this year, strongly promoted student activities, such as the annual Dunwoody Campus poetry slam, which brings faculty and student poets together for high energy readings. He also started the Dunwoody Chess Club, organizing tournaments with the help of English professor Matt Dolloff.


Wadley grew up in Atlanta with a love of literature and a sense of romantic wanderlust. His mother was an English teacher, his father a World War II pilot who had come to Atlanta to work for Lockheed Corp. In the late 1970s, he left his first teaching job at Kennesaw College to work at a textbook publishing company in California. “I realized I had been in a classroom since I was 4 years old,” he explains. The work was in Berkeley, and the West Coast was a lot of fun.”


Wadley met Regina, a young German woman, during a 1978 summer trip to Scotland. The meeting changed his life. The two corresponded for almost a decade before marrying—and Wadley moved to Hamburg, Germany to be with her. He taught English there and became fluent in German.


After the Berlin Wall fell, the couple and their two children moved to Georgia, where Wadley began work at what was then DeKalb College.

“Throughout my teaching career at Georgia Perimeter, I’ve always felt supported,” reflects Wadley, who most recently was Dunwoody English department chair. “I have always had good mentors here.”


With Wadley’s retirement, he and his wife returned to Germany so Regina, currently a graduate student at Georgia State University, can participate in a program at the University of Heidelberg.

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