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A Bell Ringing, Backyard Jam ...and a History Lesson

The Grauer School, Encinitas.

250 years ago, Father Junipero Serra was heading north, settling this new part of the world, starting with the San Diego mission in 1769. Along the way he founded 21 missions while creating a 600-mile trail, named in honor of the Spanish monarchy which financed the expeditions into California in their quest for an empire.

To mark his way, he left a trail of mustard seed. All along the golden path, where the mustard flowered, they called El Camino Real, the Royal Road.

Fifteen years ago, the plans for the permanent Grauer School campus right here along the Royal Road were unanimously approved by the Encinitas Planning Commission, which added, "We need about 25 more of these schools in the community!" One opponent at our hearing literally threw out his speaker slip, and at the end of the hearing, reached out his hand to me and said: "I thought they were going to name the city after you." Do we need this school in our community?

Dr. Grauer, Board Member David Meyer, and Architect Brian Darnell exhibit plans for Grauer's campus completion at our campaign kick-off, 27 years in the making! - October 13, 2017

Since breaking ground on our beautiful six acres all those years ago, we've broken continual ground in the minds and spirits of our students, and will continue to do so. And we do this in ways that would cease to exist locally and regionally without our unique school.

Your deep understanding of this unique mission is what brings us together tonight and every day, and what has created over a generation of investors in our cause.

The global achievements of our faculty and students in the area of humanitarian and ecological service are well documented, but let me make just the briefest mention of this: our students, just since moving to our new site, have built many homes, renovated orphanages, restored several local ecosystems, native wildlife and flora, and been called "A beacon of light to other schools" (Surfrider Foundation). The University of San Diego head of admission wrote: "The students and faculty of The Grauer School embody the spirit of service."

Our alumni have founded non-profits, cultural arts organizations, and entrepreneurial ventures. Virtually all of our alumni continue to engage in humanitarian or ecological service. Our students compile records not based on test scores but on the development of their character and aspirations—and colleges are taking notice of something special. As one student wrote recently: "As I near college graduation, I have never been more grateful of Grauer's program that allowed me to show I am not the student that statistics said I was."

Grauer Parent Alexia Bregman, co-chair of the Campus Completion Committee, speaking at the Backyard Jam event - October 13, 2017

This site we on which we stand right now was on the trail of the Spanish in search of creating a better world. They did not go about it the same way we do, 250 years ago. But we are still on the trail. This year, we have students from Taiwan, Japan, China, England, Mexico, France and other countries, and these students will be able to make real connections with your kids. And, we are making new trails:

  • School parents built us this home, and it is almost done.
  • Drive through the sandstone entry monuments of the school to see a 30-foot high sandstone and glass façade supported by giant wood trusses.
  • Drop off your student to enter a collegiate style courtyard quad, with an expanded green field, roomy classrooms, labs, and a student café.
  • Walk through the Tolerance Gateway and, with all of our effort and commitment, this symbol will be the first thing to come into view, the archetype and symbol of what we are building: a 130-pound mission bell that we will hang and ring once again at the completion of our campus in just a few months if we will it.


Fifteen years ago, incoming families for the upcoming school year were greeted with a letter entitled: "Urgent; miracle required." We were losing our lease. We were losing a generation of hard work. We were short hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Well, the miracle occurred and this is why all of our children are here today. A $3 million campus.

The parents who came before us have created a legacy which has turned into what is now a $10 million permanent campus for their children who are now alumni, and for our children, today: a place where new ideas are generated in the classes and freedom is instilled. Schoolwide, as one professor of education noted, we "do things routinely that other educators can only theorize about."

One student wrote just a few days ago: "The purpose of The Grauer School is to be a bottomless glass of education that allows students to get as much out of the school as they put in." What a wonderful validation of simplicity! I love it because it is exactly what parents and educators who tour our campus year-round see.


Grauer 7th graders Teja B. '23, Juna M. '23, and Alexa K. '23 releasing pigeons at the Backyard Jam event - October 13, 2017

A recent letter from a senior:
"Hi Stuart! On Saturday I found out that I was accepted into the San Diego State Honors Program (one of 100 students), and I just wanted to let you know that I was designated as an Honors Student at both UCSD and Berkeley. I never imagined that I would accomplish so much..."

The Admissions Director at the University of San Diego, wrote to us:
"Each of our 7300 applicants is screened not just academically, but just as importantly on the development of their social and spiritual life. It is from this perspective that Grauer School applicants stand out, and will: succeed academically, contribute socially, and grow spiritually."

This is all of our role. We are the pathfinders and the groundbreakers. We create the future halls with our names on them. We spread the mustard seed. We ring the bell that will tower above our campus for generations.

[And with this, Dr. Grauer sounded three, inaugural strikes on our new mission bell. And suddenly we had $200,000 of the $750,000 total needed the complete our campus at last. Our fund is underway!]


Dr. Grauer ringing the bell at the Barn-Raising, Bell-Ringing Backyard Jam event - October 13, 2017

Fearless Teaching Book


Fearless Teaching is a stirring and audacious jaunt around the world that peeks—with the eyes of one of America’s most seasoned educators–into places you will surely never see on your own. Some are disappearing. It is a bit like playing hooky from school. You will travel to the Swiss Alps, Korea, Navajo, an abandoned factory in Missouri, the Holy Land, the Great Rift Valley, the schools of Cuba, the ocean waves, and the human subconscious—oh, and Disneyland.

There you will find colorful stories for the encouragement, inspiration, and courage needed by educators and parents. Fearless Teaching is not a fix-it book—it is more a way of seeing the world and the school so that you can stay in your work and focus on what matters most to you.

Grauer’s writing reminds us that
"Great Teaching, singular, rare, unusual, is something that should be sought after and found. Thank you.”
Richard Dreyfuss, Actor, Oxford scholar, founder of The Dreyfuss Initiative


Click here to order Fearless Teaching today

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