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Commitment, kindness, respect and integrity best describe a much-loved and missed school leader

| September 24, 2010
By Debbie Woodburn and Lynda Johnson

Bruce ‘Chunky’ Crouser was born on 14 December 1957 in Salisbury, Rhodesia and died on 11 June 2010 in Orpington, UK.

He spent his childhood in Rhodesia and attended Churchill School, where he was taught by Neil Jardine, the founding Headmaster of Grayston Preparatory School. He qualified as a teacher and took up his first teaching position at Sir John Kennedy School, where he taught from 1981 to 1984. It was here that he was renowned for his undefeated rugby team, ‘The Green Machine’. This love for rugby continued throughout his life, and the children and parents at Grayston were left in no doubt of his support of the ‘Blou Bulle’!

From St Stithians to St Martin’s, to Grayston and Merton Court

He moved to South Africa in 1985 to take up a teaching position at St Stithians Boys’ Preparatory School, where he taught Mathematics and Science, was involved in the coaching of many different sports and was instrumental in initiating Prestige Athletics. It was while at St Stithians that Bruce married Carol. In 1991, Bruce was promoted to Deputy Head at St Martin’s Preparatory School, and then went on to head the school until his departure at the end of 1999.

Cameron and Chelsea, his two oldest children, were born during this time. Grayston welcomed him as our Headmaster in January 2000, where it was immediately evident that his focus was the children. Bruce and Carol’s third child, Campbell, was born in 2000. Bruce spent the next eight years – years which he often said were the happiest of his teaching career – with us, before he and his family decided to emigrate to the United Kingdom in April 2008. Bruce was appointed as the Assistant Head of Merton Court Preparatory School, where he was a Year 6 and Year 3 class teacher.

At the time of his death, he had just been appointed as the Head of the Junior School at Farrington’s School, a job he was so looking forward to taking up in September.

‘What you put in, is what you get out’, believed Bruce

For children, teachers and parents at Grayston, the Friday morning assemblies epitomised Bruce’s character. They were opportunities for him to encourage the children to live the values of our school and the very simple philosophy by which he lived his life – ‘what you put in is what you get out’. He taught the children to win and to lose graciously, saying that “if you lose, it’s because the other team was better”. Every time children achieved something – whether it was performing a musical item, receiving an academic award or a cross-country medal – he stressed the effort and practice necessary to achieve every goal, big or small. His enactment of Buzz Lightyear, his escapades at the piano as Barry White and awarding himself the trophy as the most handsome Headmaster – although light-hearted (and eminently embarrassing for Cameron, Chelsea and Campbell) – were used to reinforce the lessons he taught the children. A highlight of each assembly was the announcement of the weekly house points. In his own inimitable way, he used these announcements, frequently interspersed by references to the ‘Blou Bulle’, to develop the deep commitment of each child to his or her house and our school. Although he was the Headmaster, Bruce believed that every member of the Grayston community played an equally important role in creating the family that is our school.

Holding the hand that holds the future

Bruce’s son, Cameron, used four words to describe his dad – commitment, kindness, respect and integrity. These are the marks of a leader, and Grayston was fortunate enough to have been led by a man of such character. Alan Clarke says: “Schools should be happy places: they should be places where children feel welcome, where they feel secure, where they feel there are people who care about their well-being as individuals, and where they feel they can thrive and grow physically, intellectually and emotionally. Schools exist for children.” These are principles that Bruce not only endorsed but lived every day. Grayston believes in ‘holding the hand that holds the future’, and there is no doubt that Bruce did just that.

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Category: Obituary, Spring 2010 Edition

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