When asked what advice she has for her replacement, Grau took a moment to consider, and then said, “You need to know your staff. Be visible. Don’t sit in your office all day. Build those important relationships with the staff and the students.”
Elnabeth Grau is the retiring Superintendent of Grady Municipal Schools in Grady, New Mexico, celebrating a 30-year career serving students of varying ages and schools.
Grau has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, both from Eastern New Mexico State University. What followed was a career in education spanning 30 years with various roles in Clovis, Logan, Texico and finally, Grady.
From Counselor to Principal
After serving as a guidance counselor at Clovis Community College, Grau went on to do the same at San Jon Schools. Finally, she spent 17 years with Logan Schools. “As a counselor, I had more interaction with students, which I liked,” she said.
She continued her work as a guidance counselor at Texico High School before becoming principal in 2012. After several years as principal, she tried to retire in 2016—”tried” being the key word.
She laughed as she explained that when she had retired from her career in education she promptly developed shingles.
“A doctor told me it is one of the most common things to happen to people when they retire,” Grau said. “I was certainly surprised!”
Soon after, Grau recovered from shingles, and shortly after a friend recommended she apply for the Superintendent opening at Grady Municipal Schools.
“I wasn’t sure I was interested, as I was retiring,” Grau said.
She decided to go after the position and was hired soon after. “Serving as Superintendent the past five years was my way of giving back to the community. I get to see the impact of our work in our students’ lives and their families. I have truly enjoyed my time here.”
Advantages of a smaller school
“We’ve been very lucky to have the support of companies like Pattern Energy along with some others,” Grau said. “We have been able to make improvements around the school, like new carpet, fresh paint, a new gym floor, and a brand new practice track. It has also proven popular with our local seniors, who enjoy using it as a walking track. It’s a nice benefit for the community.”
Grau noted that Grady Schools draw from the broader Eastern New Mexico Region and have smaller class sizes.
“Smaller class sizes mean our teachers are intuitive,” she told me. “They know every student, and that means they know who is struggling in their academics, or who might be suffering from an emotional issue like self-esteem, etc.”
She went on to say intuitive teachers mean kids get the assistance they need, and Grau is proud of it. Referring to student attunement, Grau says, “I had a hand in that. I wanted to ensure the teachers here are a good fit and understand our culture.”
Grau is excited about the future and hopes to see more students. Grady Schools appreciate the smaller class sizes—their upcoming senior class only has five students.
“Our class sizes range from 16-18 students,” Grau said, “but at the same time, there’s a lot of room for growth.”
Keith Durham is Grau’s replacement. He’s a former classroom teacher, coach and was Grau’s boss when he was Principal of Texico High School.
“We go way back,” Grau said with a smile. “I’m so excited Keith will be here,” she went on, bringing another chuckle. “Keith has the energy needed for this, and I’m not sure I have it anymore.”
Graus is modest when she talks about having enough energy; It’s not as though she’ll have a lot of idle time on her hands during retirement. She and her husband raise Charolais cattle, a French specialty breed, and that keeps them plenty busy.
When asked what advice she had for her replacement, Grau took a moment to consider and then said, “You need to know your staff. Be visible. Don’t sit in your office all day. Build those important relationships with the staff and the students.”
As Grua walked through the halls, you could sense the pride she and the staff took in maintaining such a beautiful building.
For Grady Schools, the future is bright.