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Dr. Grauer's speech at The Grauer School's "Back to School" night for Grauer Parents was widely lauded, and we think you might like to read and see why. And share it.

Joy, Creativity, and Courage
Head of School Remarks to Grauer Parents, September 8, 2022

Welcome to our 32nd year at The Grauer School. It is rare in schools to have standing room only left at events like this, so kudos to all of us.

Our theme this year is joy, creativity, and courage. It is wonderful to be back looking out over our fireplace again, beneath our 45 flags representing just some of the countries we have visited on our expeditions or have international students from and including some of our UNESCO sister schools. It is even more wonderful looking out over the balcony of this beautiful organization: now that our leadership is so deep, my main role these days has become mainly to appreciate it, just as you do. Our faculty is a work of art. Now we are embarking on a whole new round of amazing adventures. I’m going to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where my banjo was made.

Nick Scacco’s Environmental Science Class cooks what they harvest, here in the Grauer Harvest Kitchen, photo by Stuart Grauer - September 8, 2022

We appreciate your trust that we work lovingly with adolescents every day, and mainly that our teens are learning self-advocacy, one of our core values, as they are challenged more than ever to solve their own problems while they are coming of age. This is a fantastic time to encourage our students in developing courage and creativity, and a joyful approach to living and learning: to live in that world rather than in that world of chaos and anxiety we are hearing too much about. Self-advocacy, natural spaces, Socratic method, lots of choices, open space and high trust, those are the antidotes and the ways forward we need. You can see all these values embodied in our seniors.

I love this group of seniors: they are us. One came up to me excitedly today: she is going to New York, and the Dean of the Theater School at NYU wrote her a personal letter wanting to show her around. There is nothing like a Grauer kid. They know it.

The pandemic enabled us to ramp up outdoor learning and accelerated our “Great outdoors” theme–ask our teachers about learning outdoors if you like. This campus has become unbelievably beautiful, largely because of the Great Outdoors outpouring of support in 2019.

Plus, the homebound days advanced our communications technology. We are working hard on using all this technology well, and that’s a double-edged sword. We are checking in more deliberately with our students on this, assessing the risks.

Recommendation: Please find a time to ask your child:

  • What are some negative effects social media has on you? 
  • What are some positive effects of social media? 
  • How do you know when to get off it? Do you? 

We recommend asking in a non-judgmental way. Not advice, just listen for understanding. You can let us know what you find.

Later on, of course, you can set rules or boundaries. But first, for helping your child clarify their own thinking, try the no-advice way and see what you think. 

Grauer alumni Oliver S. '22 leaves for Seattle University tomorrow. Here he is “Deleting Tik Tok" app from his phone, one less addictive distraction—a good idea for every Grauer student. Photo by Stuart Grauer, from El Nopalito cafe - September 9, 2022

For next week: let’s get unplugged on expedition. We characteristically do not have students calling home. We can’t urge you strenuously enough to let your child know not to call you, to spend the week autonomously and, even more important, to convey that they are perfectly up to this. Think: what if they weren’t! The purpose of expeditionary learning has always, for 32 years, been independence, not tourism, and we thank you for your support in the work we do. They are up to this.

I want to make a special welcome to our new families. This is another selective, diverse crop of Grauer students met by a selective, diverse faculty talent pool. Our access to Grauer Endowment is helping that diversity grow, and providing access—Grauer Endowment is the future for helping all great kids be here!

Tonight you’ll meet the teachers. These professionals have an enormous amount of learning to provide. You might be asking: What can I as a parent do, in support, to help those teachers?

Research has found a positive relationship between good parent-teacher communication and student achievement. Teachers who perceive parents as supportive also report greater levels of job satisfaction and professional accomplishment. That means, teachers who love and look forward to working with your child. Believe in these teachers. Believe in their commitment.

This summer, all of our teachers studied ways to increase engagement in the classroom, increase student retention of information and curiosity, and to increase motivation. We’re feeling inspired.

Of course, for this back to school night event, you are wondering about plenty. As you visit your student’s classes, here are some great things parents tend to wonder about, so feel free to ask about them tonight or any time. These are always great questions teachers welcome:

  1. In what ways will my child’s learning be connected to the real world? 
  2. How will my child be assessed or graded?  
  3. To what extent will my child be setting their own goals and aspirations, developing their own voice? 
  4. How important is student connectedness? 
  5. What values should my child be developing in this class? Do they match my values? 
  6. What is the parent role in helping the school with adolescent development?


This is what engineering REALLY looks like. Photo by Morgan Brown - September 8, 2022

Parents: Here’s something we love about our school: our on-campus class interactions and connections are of enormous value—the education we provide outside the class is just as valuable as inside. We are looking to be mentors who model passion for learning in life, not just in class. They’ll be seeing your kids by our new outdoor art gallery, new pickleball courts we’re adding, a fast-developing STEAM innovation lab, sprawling gardens and orchards, in all sorts of collaborative events and expeditions. This is an amazing, brilliant, dedicated, and did I mention amazing group of teachers. I can’t even express how much I love working with them and supporting them.

And your kids are on fire: they have water balloon games, clubs starting up, concerts, and all sorts of student proposals, showing student engagement levels that assure lifetime, safe, positive learning. I want to be a kid here.

Thank you for coming.

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Photos for Dr. Grauer's Column

Nick Scacco’s Environmental Science Class cooks what they harvest, here in the Grauer Harvest Kitchen, photo by Stuart Grauer - September 8, 2022

This is what engineering REALLY looks like. Photo by Morgan Brown - September 8, 2022

Grauer alumni Oliver S. '22 leaves for Seattle University tomorrow. Here he is “Deleting Tik Tok" app from his phone, one less addictive distraction—a good idea for every Grauer student. Photo by Stuart Grauer, from El Nopalito cafe - September 9, 2022

Fearless Teaching® Book
by Dr. Stuart Grauer

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

Dr. Grauer's Column: Archive of Past Columns

Dr. Grauer's Column - Top Tier

High school seniors around the country are in the process of submitting college applications, leading to important decisions about which colleges should they apply to for admission. One of the deciding factors can be whether the school is rated in the "top tier". Does attending a top-rated school lead to happiness for every student?

Dr. Grauer's Column - Thanksgiving

The Native American “giving economy” was based on sustainability for their whole ecosystem. We are learning that our campus ecosystem is just as much a curriculum as any textbook.

Dr. Grauer's Column - Dirt

To the Kumeyaay, the soil was a sacred commodity that they treated well so they could grow everything they needed to live on. Applying the same principles to teaching, we find that our students grow naturally when we provide them with conditions they need to thrive.

Dr. Grauer's Column - Kumeyaay Counsel For Our Teachers

This week's column expands on the concept of a giving economy, practiced by the Kumeyaay who lived on the land long before The Grauer School was built. Our students are learning how to model this behavior, helping us build a giving and sustainable campus.

Dr. Grauer's Column - The Age of Questioning

The Grauer School Faculty welcomed the 9th grade class to high school in our unique annual Matriculation Ceremony. Dr. Grauer shares his advice, which can also serve as words of encouragement for schools to celebrate the coming of age of our youths all over the world.

Dr. Grauer's Column - Stoke and Wisdom

Guest columnist Clayton Payne describes his transformational experience with the wisdom and connections shared between generations on his 39th Grauer expedition. It all comes down to this—do what you love, with love, because you love it.

Dr. Grauer's Column - Four Geese

Dr. Grauer is experiencing nature on the other side of the country in Maine this week, enjoying the quiet beauty of rain falling on the lake on an autumn morning while paddling in his kayak.