Our Story

Elements of Education began in 1999 with an idea from Jon Ketler, who was teaching ceramics at Stadium High School. He wanted to start a school that utilized the resources of the museums in downtown Tacoma, which were largely empty during the day. Thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA) was able to open it's doors to 150 10th graders in the fall of 2001.

Since then, Elements of Education has grown with the Science and Math Institute (SAMi) opening in 2009 and Industrial Design Engineering and Art (iDEA) welcomed their first 9th grade class in 2017.

We've served students through our three partner schools: the Xplore summer program for students entering 3rd-5th grade and 7th-8th grade, and the Next Move Internship program, which operates in all high schools in Tacoma Public Schools.


We envision a future where all students can participate in high quality educational experiences that develop their passions so they become life long learners, thinkers, creators, and activists. 


Elements of Education Partners transforms the culture of education through innovative Partner Schools and Programs built on the core values of community, balance, thinking, and empathy. 


Quality education is unequally distributed and many students fall through the cracks due to lack of engagement. Students that make it through schools are often not prepared for a modern workforce that emphasizes creativity and problem solving. 


Elements of Education Partners partners with community resources to provide high quality educational experiences for students. Students at Partner Schools experience innovative curriculum and programs both inside the classroom and through experiences with our Community Partners. The most successful programs expand beyond our schools to become Partner Programs, offered to students across Tacoma Public Schools. 

partner schools

  • Equity-focused Admission Process
  • Full Inclusion Special Education
  • Mentor Group
  • Project Based Education (Miniterm, Microterm, and A&A, Maker’s Space)
  • Marine Science Center
  • Service and Study Tours
  • Robotics

partner programs

  • Next Move Internships
  • Adjunct Artist Program
  • Xplore Summer Program
  • Early Learning Center

community partners

  • Schools in the midst of community resources:
    • MetroParks - Pt. Defiance
    • Downtown Tacoma (UW Tacoma, businesses, museums, and theater district)
  • Sharing space with Business Partners
  • Internship Hosts across the city

Student Outcomes

Graduation Rates

English Language Arts

% Meeting Standard

Next Move Internships, Spring 2017 - serving 269 students across Tacoma Public Schools

Donor Impact

Thank you for your financial support! Money raised is used to hire adjunct artists, create innovative pilot programs that promote educational equity, and create learning environments where students are challenged to take ownership of their education. Philanthropy helps us develop community partnerships, expand partner programs, continue innovation at partner schools, and support students as they journey through their formative high school years and beyond.