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Dana Abplanalp-Diggs is the new Head of School at The Grauer School in Encinitas. Courtesy photo.
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Dana Abplanalp-Diggs is new head of Grauer School

ENCINITAS — The Grauer School, a small independent school in Encinitas, has recently announced Dana Abplanalp-Diggs as the new head.


She has assumed the role from Stuart Grauer, who founded the school in 1991 and has served as Head of School since its inception. Grauer has transitioned to Head of School Emeritus.


“I am grateful to be a part of The Grauer School family and appreciate all of the opportunities the school has given me through the years,” Abplanalp-Diggs said. “As the next Head of School, I pledge to students, parents, faculty and friends — and to our founder himself — that The Grauer School will stay true to its foundational principles while embracing every opportunity to invent and improve. The Grauer School means the world to me and I look forward to beginning our next chapter.”


A native of Indiana, Abplanalp-Diggs is an alumna of AmeriCorps’ Teach for America program. She first began her time at The Grauer School as a math and science instructor in 1998.


In preparation for her new role, she was co-head of school from 2022 to 2023 and served as principal of The Grauer School from 2007 to 2022. Previously, she was the upper school director from 2002 to 2007.


She holds a bachelor degree in biology with cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors from DePauw University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of San Diego. Her teaching credentials include single-subject biology and general science, single-subject secondary math and preliminary administrative services.


An educational leader in San Diego County, she received the Verheyan Award for Outstanding Relationship-Based Teaching in 2005, was named The Grauer School Teacher of the Year in 2006, earned the Ellie Award for Educator of the Year for the city of Encinitas in 2011 and was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Award in both 2014 and 2015.


During her tenure at The Grauer School, she has developed the Blue Water Task Force, a student unit that monitors ocean water quality and reports results to The Surfrider Foundation and the San Elijo Lagoon Teen Eco-Stewards partnership. She has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of multiple international educational expeditions. Among those she has led are trips to study HIV and AIDS in Africa, rain forest ecology in Costa Rica, Renaissance art/history in Italy and the disparity in education in the U.S. in Arkansas.


She also designed the first Leadership Studies class, created the Associated Student Body (ASB), chaired the school-wide accreditation process (both WASC and CAIS), and was instrumental in The Grauer School securing its place as a UNESCO Associated School, one of only 33 UNESCO Affiliated Schools in the United States.


“Dr. Grauer’s educational philosophy, guiding values and practices will be upheld through this transition and beyond,” Abplanalp-Diggs said. “We have assembled a strong, talented, intelligent and committed faculty and staff. Many of us have been together for over 20 years, and Stuart has taught us well. We are ready for this new journey, and I am ready to captain our ship.”


Interested students and families will have the opportunity to hear from Abplanalp-Diggs in person and learn more about The Grauer School at its annual Discover Grauer Open House on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information and to RSVP, visit

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