Checking All the Boxes
Check Box #1:
I asked a new public school teacher recently what her goals were in starting out at her first public school job. She said, for goals: "I want to check all the boxes and not do anything illegal or that might get me into trouble."
Then I asked a new Grauer teacher what his goals were in starting out at The Grauer School, an independent school. He said, "To feel like part of a community and both establish myself and clear expectations for my students."
Banditos: Grauer students working on a community service project during their Expedition in New Mexico, with assistance from Dr. Grauer - September 2018
Could it be that these two people, both called, "teacher," have the same job? (Spoiler alert: no). What makes Grauer teachers so passionate about our shared work? What makes Grauer parents so passionate about our teachers?
What is a teacher? Strategic innovations, technology, demographic trends, digital marketing, shifting gender and identity roles... the ground is switching so fast it's hard to know what our job is. Even if we did know, 50% of millennials leave their job every year anyway! What is a job anymore?
And what are independent schools supposed to be doing?—we know we're very important to families, often almost like a part of those families. But just what is it that is so important? In a way, our school gets hired by parents every time they enroll. What do they think they are hiring us to do? Or are they adopting us as family?
Check Box #2:
Physical and emotional safety have become huge issues for parents in our country. Maybe these are our main jobs. Or do parents mean their child must get into an elite university for it to have been a high quality education. Those two goals can result in two almost completely opposite ways of educating!
Does high quality mean that no student ever falls through cracks, no matter what they do? And, just when we think we have it covered with the above criteria, a parent will throw in job and vocational training or readiness—which to some extent is yet another opposite of the above. And did you know sports teams are a big reason some families pick a school even knowing that their student will never or rarely play on them?
Given all that, how many of you, readers, can even imagine crafting and then implementing a coherent, cohesive purpose such as high quality education?
Grauer Physical Education students stopping at the Grauer bench during a hike in the San Elijo Reserve - October 3, 2018
Check Box #3:
Parents say they want to raise well-rounded students who can overcome obstacles. Jimmy's parents want immediate help for him to deal with dyslexia which impacts his reading (which can mean small classes), while Gina's parents, who both graduated from Dartmouth and were gold medalists on the swim team, want her to have very high rigor and challenge, including advanced literature (which can mean small classes). Are Gina's parents just resume building... or is it long-term legacy continuance they are after... or is it rigorous education for its own sake and value? And would either of these families be okay with more, or less, if the tuition was more, or less?
Like many independent schools, Grauer has more Gina's than Jimmy's. And we have mainly hybrids. There are no real Gina's or Jimmy's.
Michael and Shelby are two parents—both are looking for a new high school. Michael cares mainly about a controlled, distraction-free environment. He wants to meet nice families and have green grass, and he wants a set, required curriculum. Maybe uniforms. Shelby wants a diverse environment so her child can grow up with kids of all kinds—an urban environment would be fine and uniforms would be out. Real world projects and service are more important than standards or curricular requirements to them—it's "the real world," according to the mom called Shelby.
Four sample parents, four distinct jobs expected of the school and its teachers: (1) overcome obstacles, (2) fulfill the child's unique potential, (3) develop values and impact the world, and (4) implement a plan to showcase the child's talents to colleges or jobs. Those are four very different scenarios. From the desk of the head of school, I can say that parents might expect any one of the above four jobs from us. Or all of them. We are not all things to all families, and we are happy about that. We cannot deliver on all these jobs. An honest admissions process helps people dial into what they really want and what job they expect of the school.
Admissions Season kicked off this week at The Grauer School, and our lovable admissions team (Olivia Kleinrath and Tricia Valeski) is ready to meet your friends and families
Our teachers work extremely hard. Do they check all the boxes that public school teachers check? No! And now, the real spoiler: The Grauer School does not use check boxes.
Congratulations to Mia B. '21 for leading a team of Grauer students, families, and faculty to participate in the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) One Walk on Saturday, November 10. Together, The Grauer School team raised over $2,500 for T1D research.
Twelve Grauer students and 3 teachers traveled to Toronto, Canada to attend the 2018 Parliament of the World's Religions, the oldest, largest, and most inclusive global interfaith event, from November 1-7. The event theme was The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change.
9th grade students in Health Class went head-to-head with one another as they competed in the 7th Annual Grauer School Cook-Off! Preparing three different dishes and applying a unit's worth of knowledge to their food selection and preparation, the class presented their dishes to a panel of Grauer judges.
Congratulations to Grauer's Middle School Robotics team, the Grauer Gorillegos, for competing in an FLL (First Lego League) Robotics tournament on November 3. The team was incredibly excited to win the 2nd Place "Core Values" award!
Grauer's Visual and Performing Arts Department presented the first Middle School Café Night event of the year on November 1. The evening included musical performances and drama monologues presented by the Music and Theatre departments, and a display of art projects presented by the Visual Arts department.
Grauer's High School ASB presented Spirit Week during the week of October 29 through November 2. Congratulations to the Senior class for winning the Spirit Week competition, and thanks to all of the other grades and the faculty for showing their spirit all week long for this fun competition!
On Saturday, November 3, The Grauer School Surf Team attended the first Scholastic Surf Series contest of the year in Ocean Beach.
Congratulations to Jackie J. '23 for winning The Grauer School's National Geography Bee on Friday, November 1! Jackie will be moving on to the California State Geography Bee round. Congratulations as well to Mac R. '24 for being the second place runner-up.
Grauer 9th graders went on a field trip to see Julius Caesar at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park. The week before, an actor from The Old Globe came to Grauer's campus to lead the students in a workshop, creating tableaux representing key scenes from the play.
Students in 9th Grade Biology class gave Evolution Research presentations this week about the evolution of an organism or trait they had chosen to research. Students researched theories about how the organism evolved and the support for each theory.