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Dr. Grauer's Column - In Support

In Support

So many of you have been reading my reflections about great education all year, and you’ve been there in support. Staying in support of educators was a great way to be this year, so thank you..

Math and World Religions teacher Clayton Payne being recognized for his 20th Anniversary at The Grauer School by Dana Abplanalp-Diggs and Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 2, 2022

When we arrived back on campus as a whole faculty in August 2021, we had little idea what to expect. Would we stay on campus? Would we be garbled by masks? How would the new students adjust? Would they have academic and emotional hurdles to overcome after being at home for a year or more? What would happen with COVID?

It has not been a stable time to be an educator, but we had a strong and adaptive team. Leadership is building durable teams. We were ready to go through changes together. And now we have.

What I love about our team at The Grauer School is that they are connected, super-bright and super-loyal: we love our mission and each other. When you have a unified team, it is almost unbelievable what you can transcend, and people know it. I wish I could properly thank all of you who saw this in us. You did not need to know the things we were facing, and that some of us were confused or anxious about the events of the past two years (and we knew our students were, too). You may not have known that we all prioritized connecting with our students over the required curriculum. You did not judge us when we slowed instruction down and just listened and observed our students, gave them permission to feel, to clear the air, to shoot some hoops, and get ready to learn. 

We persevered. 

Grauer Senior Mo H. '22 presenting his Senior Defense Presentation, petitioning to graduate with a distinction in Expeditionary Learning - June 3, 2022

At Grauer, our school entryway is called The Tolerance Gateway. As the leader of the school, I drew upon one of my most cherished leadership metaphors: keeper of the gate. The year brought a cascade of post-Covid issues all trying to get through that gate: a national mental health crisis, the great resignation, wild inflation and a foreign war vying for the headlines, automatic (military-grade) weapons insanity and horror, divisive national polemics and horrifying threats to American democracy, Title 9 diversity programming challenges to step up to (including a wave of racism across our country), critical and threatening web filtering and cyber security needs, technology use and abuse, and so many other shifting shapes. These always seemed to be tapping on our gate, if not howling, trying to get in. We consistently managed to filter these out of our lives on campus with kids, sometimes with a bump or bruise. We consistently stayed positive and found areas to delight in.

15% of our teachers on average were kept home this year with Covid related issues—and our teachers covered for one another, giving up an estimated 500 prep periods or more, so that we could keep our kids and one another moving forward. According to many parents I talked to, we simply kept moving ahead, making this look natural—they hardly knew it was happening, and that’s a great thing. That’s what we wanted, though now we want to rest. 

Grauer students Ennis R. '25 and Maya P. '25 petting rabbits at the school's annual Petting Zoo during Finals week - June 7, 2022

In nationally normed surveys, we placed in the 90th to 99th percentile in most faculty and student critical areas of development this year, including belongingness, safety, trust, mentoring, and these findings are another great thing. And yet, more students than ever were trying to get adjusted, making mistakes, and needing redirection. We managed to absorb and often even embrace this dissonance because a strong, supporting, trusting culture does that—a strong trusting culture embraces everyone in it.

That was a tough year and here’s how we roll—we’ll be coming back in the fall twice as hard with more teachers, more curricular enrichment, deeper values discussion, more special events, and more inspiration than ever.

Grauer students Melissa R. '23 and Charlie T. '25 performing during the school's Theatrical Cafe Night event - June 1, 2022

Now we are dismissing for summer again, tired but happy and proud. Happy that we have earned some rest. Proud that our students have learned things we cannot require or put on the final exam:  gigantic strengths like perseverance, mentoring, and hopefully even how to play again. I stayed true to myself with an unbridled belief in the goodness and resilience of my students, knowing some parents get frustrated by my excessive tolerance, and knowing this can be overwhelming for me, something I’ve never confessed.

I don’t know if I have ever learned so much, and kids and teachers will benefit. The Grauer School is almost unbelievably self-reflective so, tiring as the year has been, I have never seen a year that is resulting in more inspired organizational developments going forward. You will see them all next year. We have turned adversity into opportunity not once but pretty much every day, all in the name of better connection. To those of you who understand why teachers take a few weeks of downtime in summer, my appreciation for this understanding is off the charts. Their devotion to our kids is both transformational and tireless, though it’s time to rest. Summer’s a good time to dream and reimagine. Thank you. 

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Math and World Religions teacher Clayton Payne being recognized for his 20th Anniversary at The Grauer School by Dana Abplanalp-Diggs and Dr. Stuart Grauer - June 2, 2022

Grauer Senior Mo H. '22 presenting his Senior Defense Presentation, petitioning to graduate with a distinction in Expeditionary Learning - June 3, 2022

Grauer students Ennis R. '25 and Maya P. '25 petting rabbits at the school's annual Petting Zoo during Finals week - June 7, 2022

Grauer students Melissa R. '23 and Charlie T. '25 performing during the school's Theatrical Cafe Night event - June 1, 2022

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