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Stuart Grauer '89 EdD

1. What have you been up to since graduation?
I focused some of my studies on preparing to found an independent secondary school in the North County of San Diego--one with a true humanitarian focus--which I did in 1991, in Encinitas. I was pretty broke after finishing my doctorate, and the school was started on $3, 5 credit cards, 7 students, and a borrowed storefront. It is now at full enrollment, with 150 students on five coastal acres, with 38 employees. We are now in a capital campaign to complete our final building.
Since the school is focused on the small schools movement, I have worked consistently to advance that model locally and globally. The model has enabled me to engage in authentic learning experiences with my students, including on extensive expeditions with them. We have built many homes and schools, served many humanitarian causes, and visited schools in remote locations all over the world. I never could have dreamed what I have learned though all this, although it was USD where I learned to filter all my experiences through the largest purposes.
Just this year I saw the release of my book of ten stories, Real Teachers, published by SelectBooks of New York, documenting some of the most educational, significant and, in some cases, outlandish of my experiences as a global educator.  Nationally prominent educators are calling Real Teachers "restorative," "liberating," "eloquent," and "inspiring." Our educators deserve liberation, almost as much as our students! I hope everyone in the USD SOLES will read it, and SOLES Dean Cordeiro was kind enough to make the same recommendation in her review. I believe everyone who cares about education will benefit from this read, and find it challenging and joyful.

2. What is your fondest memory of USD?
Teachers make all the difference. My professors at USD were my life's inspirations. I owe everything to them. My advisor, Dr. Joseph Rost, provided me with enough wisdom and role modeling to last a lifetime and his passing a few short years ago was like losing a parent for me.

3. What is your favorite place on campus?
The student center opened my last week at USD. After defending my dissertation, my supporters in the audience took me there for my first time. We had a glass of wine to celebrate and, by the time we got back the committee was a little put out: it had only taken them a few minutes to approve my defense and they had been unable to find me!
My favorite place was the trailer where the education school was founded, and these have long since been replaced with the Degheri Alumni Center. I'm proud that we were in those in the young days of the leadership program. It's made me feel a bit like a founder of this incredible program.

4. Who was your favorite professor or class?
As I've pointed out, Dr. Joseph Rost was a great educational and personal mentor for me. However, I'd also like to send out a heartfelt remembrance of Dr. Bill Foster, whose teaching and research on educational leadership were fascinating. We lost Bill to cancer quite a few years back now.
I loved the leadership and organizational development classes with Rost and Foster, and I also loved the adult development class Sue Zgliczynski taught, and Ed Kujawa's evaluation course. Sue and Ed gave generously of themselves as members of my dissertation committee.

5. How have you been involved with USD since graduating? 
We love hiring from USD! Our principal, Dana Abplanalp-Diggs and our head counselor, Tricia Shemwell, both have USD master's degrees in education. We have had quite a few teachers, staff, and interns from USD through the years.
As soon as The Grauer School became financially successful, I began making fairly regular donations. I recently created a bequest in my will going to SOLES.
Tony Smith, principal of Leadership Research Institute, went through the doc program with me over twenty years ago, and he is now a member of the school Board of Trustees with a daughter in our middle school!
I have also been fascinated in following the development of SOLES and have endless admiration for Dean Paula Cordeiro and what she has done over her time there. The new building is like a miracle.
The Peace and Justice Center has been a great partner to our school and we have collaborated on a speakers series. Also, The Grauer School is a non-profit public charity, and we stay involved in the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research. Their events have helped us as we have developed our governance at The Grauer School.

6. If you could offer a current USD student advice, what would it be?
First, I have learned that ability to find and develop relationships with mentors (and/or protégés) is the most important thing you can do to ensure your success.  Secondly, I hope you will smile through all you do, especially given the alternative.

To contact Stuart, please email him at Find out more about Real Teachers on The Grauer School's website. Real Teachers is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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