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 homeschooling educational needs. 

Executive Director
Principal

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
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 furthering her education through BYU 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
Dominique Holling

Dominique was raised in Denver, Colorado.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a Dance Endorsement from Metropolitan State University of Denver in winter of 2015.  She was very excited when she got the opportunity to teach PE for Silver Spruce three years ago.  Now going into her fourth year she is excited to get another chance to broaden her teaching horizons in the classroom, and in the gym.  If she is not at SPRUCE she can be found substitute teaching for Durango 9R, Durango Dance, or Ballet Durango. She also teaches her own dance classes on most evenings at the ELHI building.


Dominique considers herself to be a very enthusiastic individual.  She uses her enthusiasm to show her students how fun being active and staying healthy can be. Her ultimate goal is for every student to find ways to be healthy and active for a lifetime, not just while they are in her class.  

Dominique has a passion for learning and hopes that some of that passion will rub off on the students she sees.  In her free time she loves going to the park, blowing bubbles, hiking, dancing, and learning as many new things as she can. 

Program Teacher
Vanessa Self

Vanessa loves living, learning, working, and playing in SW Colorado! Vanessa earned her Associates in Applied Science in 2003 and graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2012 with her Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies, Teacher Education and holds a current CO teacher certification (PK-6th) with Early Childhood and Linguistically Diverse endorsements. Vanessa has experience teaching her own children as a former home school parent, a home daycare provider, an online ESL teacher, and a tutor. Vanessa and her husband were certified foster parents for 8 years in La Plata county and, through this work, Vanessa gained unique knowledge about trauma informed education and teaching to diverse populations. 

Vanessa, her husband, and their children love swimming and spending times by local lakes and rivers. Vanessa enjoys rollerbladeing, reading, scrap-booking, and going on walks in her neighborhood. Vanessa is passionate about learning, creating a welcoming environment for all students, and establishing positive relationships. 

One of Vanessa's favorite quote about education is, "The magic is in the mess." I believe in providing consistency, structure and security as the foundation and providing time, tools, and support for creative exploration, self discovery, and wonder.

Substitute 
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.”

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