Mike Congleton is an art teacher in the Middle School and Key School and has been at Carolina Day School since 2002. Mike has over 20 years experience as a summer camp counselor, trip leader, Red Cross first aid, lifeguard, cabin counselor.
Get to know Mike Congleton:
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? “More flexible, less red tape, I can teach what interests me.”
What do you like most about your job at CDS? “That I’m the bus driver of my own curriculum, advisory, and my colleagues.”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? “We allow them to fail and encourage them to take risks and make mistakes.”
How would you describe your classroom? “A sanctuary where students feel safe, where they can laugh or cry and where they can be themselves without judgment of others.”
What books and authors inspire you? “Huckleberry Fin, The Hobbit, Treasure Island...(WHY?) they are about the reluctant adventurer and they take place outside or on the water...and about taking chances and making mistakes.”
What is your favorite quote about education, mentorship, children, and/or learning?
- "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
- "No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination"
- “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.” - Groucho Marx
- “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” - Albert Einstein
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.” - Mark Twain
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” - Mark Twain
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? “Work hard, have fun, and laugh. Then repeat” - Congo
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? “The annual “Camera Movie” The Congo Hoops tournament (the idea that 64 teams enter but only one wins...thats a real life lesson), the 6th grade ceramic face jug project (this is the big project every year...they learn how to build using slabs...there is a lot of failure and they quickly learn what works for a clay 8”-15” structure and what makes it “flop”), 7th grade pinhole photography project (this is a warm up project for the responsibilities they will have in 8th grade...it gives them a chance to show they can be trusted and have responsibility for themselves and the others who are in the darkroom with them), 8th grade photography-(it allows them to have responsibilities and chances to show integrity.. the 8th graders “own “the darkroom for the year so on the most part they take this responsibility very serious...there are 3 levels of photography to work towards and if they fulfill the level 3 requirements they get their name written up over the dark room door. The level 3’s are important because they become the caretakers of the darkroom and manage the supplies and equipment)”
What personal passion brings balance to your life? “Working at a summer camp, being outdoors, sailing near St. Somewhere, painting...making art...brewing beer, and cider, being with my family and friends.”
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work? “I like to have FUN! I use to be an athlete before knee replacement surgery...won the art and athlete award in HS (Proctor Academy) I love baseball, Hockey, and Basketball...and skiing and sailing when I can afford it. I’m an artist, painter, oils, and batiks, and love making movies I wanted to be an artist in college...but at summer camp I realized that I loved teaching and working with kids. Probably because I’m still a kid at heart...someday I’d like to build a raft and float down the FB until I either sink or stop.”
How is CDS different from what you experienced as a child in school? “My middle school experience was torture...I was bullied...until basketball season started, and once I made friends with Joe Cappucci things became better. But being dyslexic in school in the 1970’s wasn’t easy...so for me...teaching middle School is like being a knight of the round table, and looking to do good things help kids out and destroy evil.. haha. I just want to be the art teacher I wish I had when I was in middle school.”