To be clear, neither Dr. Stuart Grauer nor the school that bears his name is turning 100 anytime soon.
But, if you add Doc Grauer’s age (70 in a few days) to the upcoming 30th birthday of the school, it equals a century. How time flies.
I first met Stuart Grauer in 1992 after he blindly called and asked me to tutor one of his students. I showed up the next day at the school in dress clothes, including polished shoes and silk tie, and awaited the headmaster’s arrival. As I waited a couple arrived, inquiring about the school for their son.
“Are you Dr. Grauer,” they asked. I replied that I was not and attempted to distract them as the good doctor rolled up the driveway with a surfboard loosely strapped to the roof. His hair was still wet, a result of that morning’s surf session. As he moved toward us, I said, “Here comes Dr. Grauer now.” I could see his twin passions pulling him in two as he downshifted from daily surfer to educator.
As the four of us toured the campus, Stuart spoke about the then-new school, turning to me once to whisper, “Where were you this morning; it was awesome out there!” Once his metamorphosis was complete, he continued speaking like the brilliant scholar he is.
For the next 28 years, I worked at the Grauer School as a mentor, tutor, substitute teacher, and part-time Surf P.E. instructor. I say that I worked there, but it was more like an endless summer with kids tagging along during the school year and, once school was out, safaris up or down the coast with Stuart.
We rode some good waves together and had some big laughs as we made our way north to Malibu, south to Baja, west to Catalina, or east to Joshua Tree.
Being in Stuart’s company remains as enjoyable as it is educational as he imparts wisdom in a way that makes those in teaching range feel it’s coming from within us.
As we became closer friends, Stuart offered his precious time to read many of my manuscripts, offering valuable advice on writing and life, which he apparently finds no border between. He is an excellent writer with classic works on education including “Real Teachers” and “Fearless Teaching.”
While he never had to save me from a riptide, he has thrown me many a metaphorical life preserver and been there when few else were, helping keep me afloat when it looked like my family could go under financially.
It’s been 13 years since Stuart hired my wife, Tracy. While her official title is Assistant to Head of School, she also provides bandages for the wounded and a shoulder to cry on for the hurting. During her time there Tracy has returned home with her own stories of the school and the man who founded it.
At this writing, every Grauer School student, teacher and staff member has been tested for COVID-19, with the results showing zero infection.
Like most everything that happens at the Grauer School, this was not dumb luck but is more well-planned than a dawn patrol at Cardiff Reef, where a surfer known to fellow surfers alternately as Stu or Stu Dog spends most mornings learning from the ocean, an intimate friend he considers among his greatest teachers.