Read what others think of Spruce Street School.

Letters from Parents

Courtney Hashimoto

Dear Prospective Spruce Street Parents,

My 9-year old son Gavin has begun his fourth year at Spruce Street. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in your shoes, putting much time and energy into finding the best possible school for Gavin as he prepared to enter kindergarten. I know how important that decision must be for you, as it was for me.

I remember when I went through the school selection process I compiled long lists. I attended open houses, listened intently to staff and parent volunteers, asked lots of questions and took copious notes. As I recall, a lot of the questions I asked were fairly objective: number of students, student/teacher ratio, class size, curriculum, that sort of thing. I also asked many questions about philosophy of education, testing, home work, dispute resolution, and so forth.

The questions were and are important. Perhaps you are asking many of them yourselves as you search for the right school. What is interesting to me as I reflect back on my own selection process is how few of these questions now seem critical to the final decision my wife and I made, which was to enroll Gavin at Spruce Street, a decision for which I will forever be grateful.

What stands out for me as being the most important questions are two very subjective ones for which the answers will likely involve a leap of faith. The first question: “Will my child be happy here?” And the second: “Will my family feel at home in this community?”

In the end what has mattered for me is that Gavin has been happy at Spruce Street, and I have felt at home here. Everything else is secondary. Yes, class size, curriculum, educational philosophy and all the rest do matter. However, all these factors are in service to the goal of having a happy child and feeling connected to the school community.

How do I know that Spruce Street was the right choice for Gavin?

  • When he tells me that he loves his school, and at summer’s end says that he can’t wait for school to start again.
  • When he tells me that he had an argument at school with a friend but that everything is all right because they were able to listen to each other and work it out.
  • When I sit in early morning circle in his class with students, siblings and parents, and everyone has the opportunity to listen and to be heard as we each share our news.
  • When Gavin’s older brother, Bradford, who is currently with the National Guard in Iraq, is adopted by Gavin’s class and each child sends him a letter telling him how much they care.
  • When I hear moving stories from other parents about how their children have blossomed at Spruce Street and share my own story.

If I were to leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to seek a school that you can identify with passionately. Follow your heart. Wherever that may lead you, I know that you will find a place where your child will be happy and you will feel at home. I hope it may be Spruce Street!

Fran Reichert

We first learned of Spruce Street School through our pediatrician. On a quest to find the right school for our eldest son, a sometimes brilliant, slightly quirky kid, we were swayed by the doctors simple statement. He said that Spruce Street School had been a life-changing experience for his own son. We have learned firsthand exactly what he meant.

New to the school and not yet convinced that my bright yet challenging kindergartner would be fully appreciated, I made myself a fixture at the school by signing up for various volunteer projects. I soon discovered I had no reason to worry and every reason to rejoice. Passing through the classroom, or peeking around a corner, I saw my son happily engaged in school.

We are now entering our fifth year at Spruce Street, and our younger son, an irrepressible, outgoing, imaginative child, is well ensconced. We have become even more deeply attached to the school as we witness the carefully attuned nurturing of children as diverse as wildflowers. And as grateful as we are, the entire staff makes it very clear that they consider it an honor to take stewardship of our children. We are frequently told of the valuable gifts and insights our children bring to the school. Our older son feels great pride in the school that fully embraced him, and our younger son feels nothing less than extraordinarily special.

It takes a school like Spruce Street to tap into the unique potential in each child. It is this kind of education every child deserves.

What Students Say

“I like Spruce Street School because it is a really good place to be at and the afterschool program is really fun.”  – Xavier Willi

“Dear Ms. Sheree; Ever since I started to play marimbas I have wanted to be the best at it. I was glad when you asked me to join Shumba. It is so much fun and I am really proud of myself for working hard each day to be a better marimba artist. I learned that from you. I love to watch you play. Your hands move like lightening up and down the keys and you become a part of the marimba. Marimba is in your soul and now, because of you, it’s in mine too. Thank you.” – Abdul Luna

“I like Brenda because of her voice. I like her news at circle time. I like her ideas. I like how she listens to us. I like how she teaches us and lets me use her dictionary to look things up. I like when she smiles at us. It makes me feel good. And I like it when she reads us poems.” – Sophie Jones

What Alumni Remember

“This was the school that taught me to love learning.” – Rachel Kahn Taylor

“From Spruce Street School I got a passion for music. Spruce Street was a really magical and creative place for me. I have such lucid and intense memories from all of the arts/creative training I got there. Spruce Street contributed so much to my understanding and love of the arts and foreign cultures.” – Matthew Winterscheid

“Spruce Street has had a huge impact on my life. I truly believe I am who I am today because of my parents and the schools that I have attended. Elementary school is a crucial part of an individual’s development. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to go to Spruce Street. Spruce Street helped me develop into a leader (I have been class president in my high-school for the past two years). – Seyeon Boonstra Malott

“I remember these big smelly markers very well. They were such a privilege. I used them to make many things. I think they were even for coloring the dragon accordion books that then went on display at the Wing Luke Museum in the International District. That was the greatest field trip of my two years here. We went to see all our books in a real museum and they helped us marble paper at craft tables in the basement. Then we all ate at a luncheon at the restaurant across the street.” – Joy Sternoff-Meyers

“We truly have nothing but happy memories. This was (and seems still is) a happy, silly, clever, musical, tolerant, creative place to be. We remember you with gratitude. You’ve done us a great favor.” – The Bernheims

“I have new friends at my school but I often play with my Spruce Street School buddies – inseparable!” – Afi Catellani-Clark

Other Testimonials

“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 Fulgum, Newsweek

“Without question, the most thoughtful vote came from 8-year-old David Affolter, a student at the Spruce Street School in Seattle, who wrote: ‘I want the National Insect to be the ladybug, because the ladybug can do about everything a bug should do. It can be a board game piece.” – Dave Barry, Knight-Ridder Newspapers

List of Awards

  • 2005 – Recipient of Seattle City Light’s Solar Green Power and Solar Demonstration Project for solar panels to provide power and education opportunities for the school.
  • 2005 – Recipient of Home Depot Community Impact Grant for environmentally friendly playground equipment and rooftop amenities on our playground in the sky.
  • 2004 – Brenda Swidler awarded Teacher of the Year by the Washington Association of Independent Schools.
  • 2003 – AT&T Family Care Development Fund awarded to Spruce Street School to add building materials and physical education equipment to our Extended Day Program.
  • 2002 – Recipient of a major financial aid grant from the Pearl Jam Foundation to “assist in your efforts to maintain and continue to build a diverse educational community.”
  • 2000 – Fulbright Memorial Fund Fellowship awarded to Rebecca Timson for a three-week study in Japan
  • 2000 – Recipient of a major financial aid grant from the Pearl Jam Foundation to enable “many children to gain wonderful life- and learning-experiences at Spruce Street School”
  • 1998 – WSTA Elementary Science Teacher of the Year awarded to Rebecca Timson
  • 1998 – Recipient of a grant from Pearl Jam for “many children to gain wonderful life and learning experiences at Spruce Street School”
  • 1997 – Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program Award given to Rebecca Timson
  • 1997 – Bristol Fund Grant to expand the computer lab
  • 1997 – Washington NASA Space Grant Mini-grant for Discovery Park Field School
  • 1996 – Marimba group selected to perform at benefit honoring Dr. Mohammand Yunus
  • 1996 – Environmental Educators Association of Washington Award
  • 1996 – City of Seattle S.T.E.P. Grant for Native Plant Garden
  • 1995 – Honorable Mention, The Weekly’s “Best of Seattle” Award, Best Elementary School
  • 1994 – Seattle’s Child Golden Bootie Award, “Best Private Elementary School”
  • 1990-96 – Seattle Drainage and Wastewater Utility Award for Watershed Protection
  • 1993-96 – Adopt-a-Park Program Award
  • 1993-94 – Seattle Solid Waste Utility Environmental Allowance Program Grant
  • 1992-93 – King County Community Stewardship Grant for Watershed Curriculum
  • 1992-93 – Puget Sound Educational Service District Serve America Grant
  • 1992 – King County Generations United Hand-in-Hand Award
  • 1991 – Seattle KidsPlace Award for Citizenship
  • 1990-91, 1995-96 – Washington Space Grant Program
  • 1990 – Featured in Newsweek special “Education” issue