Parents expect and receive responsive, thoughtful, effective, and efficient action from the Spruce Street School administrative team. This group is in charge of leading the school from the front desk to long-range planning and fiscal management.

Alex Hawker is from Springville, Utah and recently moved to Seattle to study Violin Performance with a scholarship at Cornish College of the Arts. He is a work-study student in the office, and helps teachers with various projects.  Until his move to Seattle, Alex had a small studio of violin students who he enjoyed teaching and performing with. He also volunteered in community orchestras, and is still an avid chamber instrumentalist. When he is not in class or at Spruce Street School, Alex likes to listen to music, take long walks through Seattle, and play chamber music with his friends.

Briel Schmitz has been Spruce Street School’s Head of School since 2002. She has ten years experience as a classroom teacher, both as a bilingual first grade teacher in the Houston public schools (through Teach For America) and as a multi-age early elementary teacher in Seattle. She is passionate about working with new teachers and women in leadership. She designed and ran a beginning teaching program from 1996-2002, coaches and mentors the Interns at Spruce Street School and worked with NWAIS to establish Pathways to Leadership, a cohort for women interested in becoming heads of school. Briel studied Education Policy as an undergraduate at Brown University, and holds a master’s degree in Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University. She has served as a board member and chair for the Northwest Association of Independent Schools and the Washington Federation of Independent Schools. In her free time Briel enjoys reading, petting her cat and traveling with her husband.

Capri Arias, our Administrative Manager and Diversity Recruitment Director, is a southern California native who grew up in Rancho Cucamonga and graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in English Literature & Foreign Language. In 2018, she earned her master’s degree in Education at the University of Washington. Prior to her post with Spruce Street School, she worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, IslandWood, and the YMCA and was a professional writing tutor for two years. When she’s not working, she enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, shopping for groceries and organizing.

Gene Carter is the Director of Technology, a position that he has volunteered in for seven years prior to joining the staff.  Gene has Bachelors degree in theatre as well as several Microsoft certifications.  He likes Star Trek TOS, Shakespeare and Circus Peanuts.




Guy Fineout has been Spruce Street School’s Assistant Head of School and Director of Admissions since 2009.  He taught 4 to 12 year-olds for 25 years, was Co-Director of an independent school for 11 of those years, and spent 5 years as Director of Admissions. He manages the admissions process, including tours, school fairs, student interviews and visiting days, and helping the oldest students and their parents prepare to move on to middle school. He is the community relations liaison, which means he has spent time in the last few years meeting with city officials, project managers and construction workers involved in the many new buildings and infrastructure projects taking place in our dynamic neighborhood.  He is a native of Michigan where he graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in education. He received his Masters in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. He has lived in six different neighborhoods in the Seattle area since 1978 and loves working downtown.

Jane Davis-Ward, our Business Manager, has been juggling the many responsibilities of the business office at Spruce Street School since 2003. Jane grew up in Berkeley and graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a double major in Spanish and Art History. She has also completed graduate studies in Art History at the University of Washington and served as the Director of an art gallery in Pioneer Square for several years. Jane is also the proud parent of a Spruce Street School alumna.  In her free time Jane enjoys reading, baking, sewing, taking long walks and spending time with friends and family.

Megan Schmidt, our Development Director, is a Seattle native with a passion for fundraising. She has worked as a development professional in the Seattle area for 20 years, both at non-profit organizations and as an independent fundraising consultant.  Outside of work you will find her at one of her two sons’ many sporting events or enjoying one of Capitol Hill’s new restaurants with her husband. She also enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.


Shannon Orton is our Communications. Marketing, and Extended Day Director. Before joining the administration  at Spruce Street School in 2014, Shannon was a teacher for 13 years, working with students in first through eighth grades.  She is a Seattle native, holds degrees from the Evergreen State College and Antioch University, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Committee for Children. Outside of school, Shannon enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and 14 year-old son.