Silver SPRUCE Academy Staff


We have a wonderful, educated and talented staff here at Silver SPRUCE Academy.

All of whom are here to help with your school choice needs. 

Executive Director

Program Teacher
Natalie Howard

As a lifetime Colorado resident, Natalie Howard enjoys the outdoors, learning, and exploring her world for knowledge. She graduated from Ignacio High School in 1999, attended Fort Lewis College earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and continued her studies in a distance education program at CU Greeley earning a Masters in Education in Administration and Educational Leadership. 

Natalie, her husband and their children have a great appreciation for nature, embarking on family adventures, and learning new things each day.

Natalie has worked with homeschooling families since 2005. Her outgoing and bubbly personality create a social environment for students that exemplifies group interaction and allows for ample opportunities for students to engage in educational experiences. 

Natalie quotes, "I love learning and I love inspiring others to learn. Each person is unique and is skilled in certain qualities, the key is celebrating each child's special gifts and exploring education with that at the forefront."

" Natalie's motto to teaching is organized chaos with no box!"

Executive Assistant
Program Teacher

Janna Schmutz

That is pronounced Shmoots for all you non-German speaking folks. Janna was born and raised in the Four Corners area and graduated from Ignacio High School in 1999. She became certified as a Medical Transcriptionist in 2006 from San Juan College and Career Step. In 2014 Janna obtained a certificate from The Photography Institute in digital photography and became a certified user of Quickbooks. She maintains a substitute teacher license through the State of Colorado each year. Janna is currently studying Marriage and Family Science through Brigham Young University Idaho.   

Janna and Natalie have known each other since preschool and connected again through the homeschooling program that Natalie previously directed. Janna was excited when she heard that Natalie was starting Silver SPRUCE Academy because she believes in the value of homeschooling.       

Janna and her family enjoy Jeeping, boating, camping, and traveling. She quotes, "A traveler's destination is not a place, but what you see and experience"

Program Teacher

Tara Douglas

Tara Douglas is originally from Angleton Texas and graduated from Angleton high in 2005. She also took a photography course at Houston Community College where it expanded her love for the hobby and she turned it into a small business.  She and her family moved to the four corners area in August of 2018 and fell in love with the area and people. They love hiking and exploring the outdoors. She taught classical conversations in a homeschool group for 2 years and was a youth leader for 4 years at her church in Richwood Texas. She is a mother of 4 and has been homeschooling for 5 years. She has over 10 years experience in child education and is passionate about the educational growth of every individual child. She teaches and offers a unique learning style that includes hands on and physical activity. Tara dives in 100% when there is a goal to be reached and teaching children is one of her biggest passions. One of Taras favorite quotes is “we must view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to be lit.”

Program Teacher
Development & Marketing Executive

Rachel Thomas

Rachel was born in Wyoming and raised in Virginia. She and her husband have five children ages 20, 18, 14, 11 and 9. Soon after the youngest of five was born the family moved west for the dry, arid heat and beautiful open sky! She completed her degree in Speech Communication at George Mason University in 1996 after three years at the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, New York. She pursued a career with the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum as the Director of Marketing and Fundraising. Now she is able to combine education and marketing at Silver Spruce Academy!

They homeschooled exclusively for 14 years, four of the five have dyslexia. Homeschooling with dyslexia coincides with her hands-on, experiential learning model she gleaned from the Discovery Museum! In September 2019, she was called back to the work force full time and her children entered public school. Two attend Mosaic Academy charter school in Aztec and three older children attend San Juan College.


Her family interests include STEM, sailing, hiking and camping. She enjoys herbal gardening, theater and scrabble.

  • Facebook Classic