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Tedders running unopposed for BOE District 3
GSU professor to take seat vacated by Wilson
W Stuart Tedders
Dr. Stuart Tedders

As an unopposed candidate, Dr. Stuart Tedders is set to replace Dr. LeVon Wilson as the District 3 member of the Bulloch County Board of Education in January.

Wilson, previously a legal studies professor at Georgia Southern University, took a new job last fall as associate provost of Clark Atlanta University. He then chose not to seek re-election to the board, but remains a Statesboro resident and said he will serve out his term this year unless his situation changes.

With Tedders, District 3, which includes neighborhoods to the east and southwest of the GSU campus, will continue to be represented by a professor with academic leader credentials. A professor of epidemiology in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at GSU, he serves as the college’s associate dean of academic affairs. Tedders also chairs the board of the Magnolia Coastlands Area Health Education Center, or AHEC, an independent agency based at the university.

He has served on other appointed, health-related and academic boards, but this will be his first experience in elected public office.

“You know, the Bulloch County Schools have been good to me and my family over the years,” Tedders said in an interview. “It’s something that we really believe in. I still have two (children) in the system now, and I guess I just viewed this as an opportunity to maybe give back to the community, to serve, and do what I could do to help promote education and the importance of education in this system.”

He and his wife, Karen, have been married almost 26 years. Their older son graduated from Statesboro High School two years ago and is now a Georgia Southern sophomore. Their younger son is in 11th grade at Statesboro High, while their daughter is in fifth grade at Julia P. Bryant Elementary School.

Karen Tedders is now a special education co-teacher in the Candler County school system, but worked in the Bulloch County system in the past.

Now 51, Stuart Tedders grew up in Perry and came to Georgia Southern as a student in 1983-1987, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology. He then went to Clemson University for his master’s in medical entomology and to the University of South Carolina for his PhD in public health. He taught at Mercer University Medical School in Macon before returning to Georgia Southern, as an assistant professor, in the summer of 2000. With the founding of the JPH College of Public Health, he became one of its original faculty members, and worked his way up to full professor.

So he has been a Bulloch County resident for almost 16 years.

The Magnolia Coastlands AHEC focuses on recruiting, training and retaining healthcare professionals. Tedders also serves on the Georgia State Office of Rural Health’s advisory council.

“Serving on that particular board has, I think, given me a unique perspective of what  some of the challenges are that rural Georgians face, so that’s been rewarding,” he said.

 

Not a politician

But he was not an eager candidate for elected office. Someone aware that Wilson was not running approached Tedders and encouraged him to run, he said. At first, even the week before candidate qualifying for the May 24 election, he dismissed the idea.

“That’s not me,” Tedders said this week. “You know, I believe in doing what I can do, but I’m not interested in being involved in any type of election. It just doesn’t suit my personality.”

When the first days of qualifying passed with no candidates signing up for the seat, the same person continued to encourage him. Tedders signed up and paid the qualifying fee March 10, before qualifying closed the next day.

“I decided that maybe the time was right,” Tedders said. “Maybe this was an opportunity that was meant for me.”

 

The learning curve

But he said he faces a steep learning curve about what his responsibilities will be and what the board can do within federal and state guidelines, and so would withhold comment on any changes he would hope to see.

“All indications, based on my experiences, are that my children are given a quality education, that the teachers are committed to excellence and that they genuinely care about the success of a student,” Tedders said. “I do think that that there is probably a level of frustration that teachers experience, and they have done a wonderful job.”

Some frustration, he agreed, is to be expected in any work. The teachers and administrators Tedders knows, he said, appear to share his belief that “the children are our future, and a quality education really is instrumental in the success of our society, our culture, our community.”

Asked if he believes the schools are adequately funded, Tedders noted state-of-the-art buildings.

“I think that in many ways, Bulloch County seems to be ahead of the curve, in rural Georgia, anyway,” he said.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

 

 

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