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The Grauer School Way

Joyful, courageous, healthy and "successful" individuals are developed in an organization or social movement through the primacy and consistent pursuit of shared, agreed upon values that leaders articulate relentlessly.

Thank you to all school families and all my readers for following our school for another year. This is an ultimate honor to us.

Grauer Seniors Sierra P. '18 and Noa H. '18 act in the student-directed production of "Feiffer's People" - June 3, 2018

The Grauer School was founded on a simple, distinctive but controversial premise. The sharing of this premise has been both the point of our existence and occasionally the fight of our life. This premise is: although we promise to provide a rigorous, scholastic, and college preparatory environment so that students who choose to do so may prepare for colleges and exams, our "purpose" is not to prepare students for any set end, including college, nor is this the measure of our success. Our success is based upon our understanding that healthy individuals are developed through the pursuit of a lifetime of shared values that transcend their own, individual goals and achievements. Restated, at Grauer, our purposes tend to be liberating rather than controlling. I hope you can see all this on the faces and body language of our children.

We acknowledge and have always acknowledged that widespread social ills, currently including anxiety, depression, suicide, eating disorders, exhaustion, addiction, and unhappiness are all associated with the pursuit of prescribed and narrow goals such as college rank, acceptable test scores, and quantifiable and extrinsically imposed achievements of all kinds. We know this premise to be supported and grounded deeply in many fields of research including psychology, sociology, education, theology, and philosophy. This premise is deeply held by our faculty members and leadership, and it is the topic of years of discussion and workshopping. Inside the school and publicly, we routinely and widely disseminate research in support of our premise, and we understand that the need for this dissemination is permanent and that our mission is never a given, even among our primary stakeholders. This premise is made clear in much of our advertising, in our admissions office, on our application for admission, in our enrollment interviews, in countless publications, in faculty and board member training, in our evaluations of all stakeholder groups, in all of our school program and whole-school evaluations, and in our senior graduation petitions. This premise differentiates us from many competitor schools, particularly those avowedly either "college preparatory" or control-oriented in basic purpose. Hence, our premise is strategic and existential.

Grauer Junior Tea C. '19 gives a presentation at a student assembly about being mindful of what you say and listening to others - May 29, 2018
"The journey is better than the inn."
-Don Quixote

Any organization with a clear mission will naturally attract others who object to or reject that mission on political, economic, personal, or other grounds—this can be difficult to bear, but it is the nature of the pursuit of any clear purpose, even the Golden Rule. At The Grauer School, we know from long experience that our premise will be challenged or drift from time to time, and that it is our job to uphold and never presume it. Observation and research we find to be irrefutable teaches us that standardized outcomes and extrinsic achievements (such as college rank) stem from widespread and longstanding fears and pressures in the larger society—these social forces makes mission drift an inexorable and predictable force that we expect to face. We understand that this premise causes some people to seek schools other than ours, rejecting our purposes, and when this happens we usually take it as evidence of the successful articulation of our mission, not as a failure. We are avowedly not all things to all people. We also find that, despite its counter-cultural underpinnings, this premise is the basis upon which prospective families and teachers contact us, follow us, and seek us out world over.

Grauer 9th grade students perform self-reflection in a labrynth as the final activity for their World Religions class - May 23, 2018

Joyful, courageous, emotionally attuned, optimistic, and compassionate individuals are developed in our organization through the consistent pursuit of shared, agreed upon values that we articulate routinely, including compassion, resourcefulness, self-advocacy, intrinsic (versus extrinsic) motivation, and personal accountability. Teacher Alicia Tembi, says it like this: "I would climb to a mountaintop and sing (not that anyone wants to hear me sing) about how special Grauer is." When you have a distinctive, driving organizational purpose, you can never state, re-state, sing, whisper or shout it enough. As a boss, I drive hard and my loyal employees know I demand a lot—but they also understand that I don't demand their compliance, I demand their passion and courage, and this is the passion and courage that permeates every aspect and part of our organization, and it is the measure of our success. This is the Grauer School Way.

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Patti W. at
Nicely put. Life is complex. In many ways our children are faced with far more challenges then we had during our early years in part due to the amount of information at their fingertips. Focusing on the social and psychological implications of this information and the conflicts and challenges it brings to our youth is critical, and determining some solutions our academic environment can provide in valid and vital. Thank you for expressing how The Grauer School is proactive in this way to help our students and families understand that all the bad stuff going on is not a required experience for our students to become healthy happy adults. On the contrary, a school environment that holds high values and standards of performance, relationships, and creativity in the forefront of a high school community will allow students to feel safe and respected. Each graduating senior class is a testament to this experience.