A Brief History of Spruce Street School

1982

Spruce Street School was founded by Harvey Sadis in 1982 as a primary (K-3) school. It was an outgrowth of Sadis’ Neighborhood Educational Workshop summer camps. Originally located on Spruce Street in Seattle’s Central District, the curriculum integrated academic skills with experiential learning in the arts and sciences in a diverse, urban community. Two printing presses and an active theater program provided opportunities for students to publish, produce, and perform creative works.

Spruce Street School
Founder Harvey Sadis.

1984

In 1984 Spruce Street School relocated to Yale Avenue North in the Cascade district south of Lake Union. The location—with nearby Cascade Park—offered a diverse community, central location, and access to downtown Seattle. Theater—including a student performance of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 1990—continued to play a large part in the curriculum activities. Author and teacher Robert Fulgham attended one of the Ring performances, leading to an article in Newsweek featuring Spruce Street School.

Spruce Street School
1984 -2005

411 Yale Avenue North

"The members of the cast are students in kindergarten and first grade. They did indeed perform 'Die Walkure' - words, music, dance, costumes, scenery, the works. Next year they will do 'Siegfried' - already in production - as part of a run through the entire 'Ring' cycle. And no, this in not a special school of the performing arts for gifted children. It's the Spruce Street School in Seattle, Washington."

- Robert Fulghum, Newsweek

1995

The departure of both Sadis and the school director in 1995 resulted in a difficult time for the Spruce Street School community. The unwavering dedication of families, the Board, and long-term staff enabled the school to persevere and eventually restore its administrative and financial stability.

2002

After trying several different administrative models over the next seven years, in 2002 the Board hired an individual who possesses strong abilities as an administrator and educational leader. Our Head of School, Briel Schmitz, has built on our past successes to lead Spruce Street School to become a more stable—but no less exciting—institution. In 2002 our landlord at Yale Avenue informed the school that our building, along with the entire block, was slated for development within the next few years. The board and administration worked tirelessly to locate a new home for the school which would allow us to maintain our accessibility and urban feel.

Current Head of school Briel Schmitz with Founder Harvey Sadis.

Current Head of School, Briel Schmitz
with Founder, Harvey Sadis.

2005

In January 2005, we signed a long-term lease at 914 Virginia. Work began on transforming the raw shell into our dream educational space, and in September 2005 the new Spruce Street School opened its doors.

Spruce Street School
from 2005
914 Virginia

2005-09

From 2005-2009 the school grew from four to six classrooms and filled them with children and families who appreciate our urban setting. Since 2009 the school has maintained a full enrollment of at least 100 students. The classrooms, common areas, and rooftop playground have exceeded our initial expectations.

Harvey Retires 2009

Spruce Street School hosted Harvey's retirement
as a 40 year educator in 2009.

2019

In December, 2019 the School purchased it’s Forever Home, a building on First Hill at 1300 Madison Street. The School plans to move and begin class in fall, 2030.

Spruce Street School new location

Spruce Street School
Forever Home
1300 Madison Street

Present

The School is committed to being an active member of its community. To that end, we have formed relationships with many neighborhood businesses, as well as the civic and governmental institutions in the area. Students walk to Cascade Park, Seattle Center, the main branch library, and South Lake Union. Students use a courtroom in the Federal Building for their mock trial unit. The mid-level collaborates with Mirabella, a nearby retirement community, and invites its residents to attend play performances in the spring. Each year the oldest level students interview people who work nearby and then publish a collection of feature stories about them, a magazine we proudly call The Community Connector. Our neighborhood is a rich environment for growth and learning and we are fortunate to build our program in collaboration with such a stimulating community.