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Oxford teacher balances faith and science
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At first glance, the life Theodosia Wade seems to be a contradiction. The devoted wife of a Presbyterian minister, Wade is also a very passionate teacher of biology at Oxford College. But despite the divide between science and church, Wade is able to harmonize her love for both.

"I believe science answers different kinds of questions than my faith does," Wade said.

She compares her faith to the fictional adventurer's final test in the "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." In order to save his father's life, Jones, an archeologist, must take a leap of faith and step out onto a bridge he cannot see over an endless abyss.

"The scientist would never take that step, but faith requires you to jump out where you cannot see proof," Wade said.

Wade and her husband Billy moved to Newton County in 1985 when he was recruited to become the minister at First Presbyterian Church. While Billy interviewed for the job, she made several connections with faculty and administrators at Oxford College.

"When we moved here, I was not ready to teach just yet," Wade said. "I wanted to stay at home with the boys for a few years."

But in 1988 when a position opened at the college for a lecturer and laboratory coordinator, Wade jumped at the chance. During her tenure at the college, Wade has taught a variety of classes including zoology, anatomy and physiology, But her true love is the environmental science class which allows her contact with science majors and non-majors alike.

While teaching the environmental science class, Wade likes to combine politics, economics, sociology as well as science for an experience all students can relate to.

"You get to reach a lot of people that might not have thought about their role in it all before," Wade said. "Having students from so many backgrounds brings so much to the class."

Each year, several of her students plan on entering law or business school at Emory University. After taking Wades' class, many of those students have decided to focus on environmental issues in their respective fields.

Because she incorporates so much into the science class, Wade believes students are able to better relate the material to situations in their own lives.

"There is so much in the news that students are very aware of what is going on around them," Wade said. "Recently we have talked a lot about water. We start with the students and who they are and how it affects them and then how it affects the state and the country and then what the global effects are. It pulls them out of their little world and shows them that what they do does make a difference and that there is hope."

 Wade's fascination with science and the world around her was nurtured by her parents from an early age. Her mother was a bio-chemist major and a Woman Army Corp physical therapist during World War II while her father was a general surgeon in Atlanta.

"I was always interested in science, but I enjoyed biology the most," Wade said. "And I chose teaching because of the connection you get to have with people. I had so many great teachers when I was in school and I guess they are my standard. You don't get graded as a teacher, so I guess that is how I grade myself."

Besides her regular duties at the college and church, Wade is also active in many other civic and scientific organizations including the Newton Climate Action Coalition. Combating climate change has become a passion for Wade, who believes people are becoming more and more convinced it is a legitimate problem.

"Climate change is an issue that our and future generations are gong to have to deal with," Wade said. "Our goal is to educate the public about change. What are the solutions we can accomplish? We can't think of this as someone else's problem. We all have to pull together."

Wade asks that anyone interested in becoming a member of the Newton Climate Action Coalition contact Mark Hodges at