Carole Thaxton: Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn

Carole Thaxton has lived all over the world, but at the end of the day, she found her home – and her calling – right here in Georgia.

Carole, who grew up in New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s with majors in education and biology before attending grad school to complete her master’s in rehabilitation counseling. She then worked as a rehab counselor in Pennsylvania for a few years. But the rehab field can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and she eventually realized she needed to take a break. Looking for something meaningful that would connect with her faith, she applied for and earned a spot at L’Abri, a Christian think tank in Switzerland. She intended to stay for about two months, but on the very first night, she met the man who ended up becoming her husband.

Best man, Mike Clader makes a toast at Charles and Carole’s wedding in 1971.

“Everyone else had gone up to bed and there we were, sitting down in the lounge, just talking into the night,” she recalls. “And it was such interesting conversation, too.”

The pair quickly realized they had much in common: an interest in education, a passion for trying new things, and a deep faith that guided their lives. After three months, Carole journeyed to England to complete a project, then came back to “collect” Charles and return to the States. They were married shortly thereafter by a protestant minister at a Jewish country club – with her entire catholic family in attendance. Carole and Charles then moved to Cambridge, Mass, where Charles was a post-doc at Harvard and Carole worked as a counselor for a nonprofit organization. Their first child was born in Massachusetts, then the family relocated to Dallas.

“At the time, we were working with Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that sends speakers with various areas of expertise to college campuses,” Carole says. “Of course, this was a great fit for Charles and we spent several years there. Then we went to the Julisan Center near San Diego for five years and then Prague for another five. We really did go all over.”

Carter John, Carole, Carson Todd and Charles in the 80s.

Carole first began writing curriculum in Dallas. She and Charles had decided homeschooling was right for their children, but Carole couldn’t find the curriculum she wanted. So, in true Carole fashion, she wrote her own. When she shared it with other families, she discovered that they, too, had struggled to find the perfect curriculum.

“Both of Carole’s sons were – and are – exceptional in some way,” says Carole’s long-time friend Lyn Baker. “Carole realized early on that a traditional school environment could squash their spirits and creativity, so she found another way.”

In Prague, Carole started an English-speaking Christian school using much of the curriculum she’d written, and eventually she went on to develop writing curriculum and author a handful of books, including Learn to Write the Novel Way and Write Your Roots. In 1995, Charles was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer and the family returned to Dallas for his treatment, which ended with a leg amputation. Five years later, however, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Over the span of a few short years, he lost a leg, a lung, and almost his life. Through it all, Carole remained steadfast in her faith.

Carole pregnant with Carter in 1970

“They’ve walked through some difficult paths,” says Lyn, “but I never heard either of them complain. Their faith is very much their north star. That’s just how they do life.”

During these rough years, friends in Georgia urged the couple to come to Fayette County – and provided a ministry apartment as their initial home here. In 2001, at the request of local homeschool groups, Carole and Charles launched a supplemental school for high school homeschoolers. Eighteen years later, Konos Academy serves more than 300 students at all grade levels and offers an array of extracurricular activities including drama and eight different sports. Students attend core classes one day per week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, and high schoolers can take elective subjects on Mondays and Fridays. The rest of the week, kids work and learn at home. The school occupies its own building and is fully accredited.

“We really had no idea it would grow this much,” Carole says. “For that matter, I would never have thought this is how I’d spend so much of my career. Honestly, Charles dragged me kicking and screaming into homeschooling. I didn’t think I could do it. Then, once I got my first son going, I didn’t think I could manage two. But you’d be amazed at what you can do when you put your mind to it. A lot of people think they can’t homeschool, but I’m proof that you can.”

Four years ago, Carole and Charles retired from the administrative portion of their work, which leaves them free to teach – and Carole free to work with and advise parents. In many ways, she’s still a counselor – just in a different setting. 

Co-founder of Konos Academy, Carole tells others about the success of the school.

“Konos means ‘cone’ in Greek,” she explains, “and the cone, for us, symbolizes God at the top of all we do and teach. That’s how Charles and I have always lived our lives.”

Outside the academy, Carole enjoys reading historical fiction, hosting a book club in her home, designing spaces, and working on graphic and visual arts projects. She loves spending time with friends, and with her two sons and three grandkids. And she suspects she might write another book or two someday.

“I really enjoy writing,” she says. “And writing about writing.”

Carole’s best friend, Connie Breyer, knows Carole well. She should. The two grew up in the same town, went to the same high school, and were roommates all four years of undergrad.

“There’s so much to say about Carole I don’t even know where to begin,” Connie says. “She’s very smart, very creative, and a wonderful wife, mother, and friend. She’s truly devoted to her Lord, and she’s adventurous and fun. We always have the best time when we’re together and I’m in awe of all she’s accomplished in her life. She’s just incredible.”

Lyn agrees.

“Carole certainly qualifies as a woman of wisdom,” she says. She’s lived her life very thoughtfully and intentionally and she and Charles have had some incredible adventures. She’s a truly exceptional person.”

HER LIFE ADVICE:

“Know God. Know what he teaches and follow it. Choose your friends wisely and find close friends that you can be honest with. If you’re raising children, have fun but take it seriously and make sure you and your husband are a team. You’re raising the foundation of our future society. That’s serious business.”

 

 

 

Maggie Coughlin

Maggie is an author, speaker, trainer, strategist, freelance writer, blogger and life coach. She's also a reader, life learner, hair flower obsessionist, dog schmuck, DIY enthusiast, Mensan, and dreamer. Maggie lives in Newnan with her sweet rescue pup, Jazzy.

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