Elements of Education Symposium

Place-based Schools Conceived Through Community Partnerships

APRIL 18 & 19, 2019 • TACOMA, WA

The Environmental Learning Center/SAMi, 2018 MacConnell Award Finalist, is only a part of the story...

Experience first-hand three public high schools conceived through innovative relationships with cultural and civic partners in Tacoma, Washington. SOTA – School of the Arts began in 2000 with 150 students in a single downtown warehouse, utilizing the performing arts center, museums and the university. Then in 2009, SAMI – Science and Math Institute was formed in a 760-acre forested, waterfront park and zoo. In 2015, iDEA – Industrial Design Engineering and Art opened in a historic school to infuse learning with cutting edge creative media, technologies and the businesses that utilize them. Today, these three schools serve more than 1,500 students in settings across the city in partnership with a rich array of community institutions, businesses and cultural resources. Since the beginning, Elements of Education, a community-based organizing group, has provided support for the unique programs that SOTA, SAMI and iDEA offer and sustained the partnerships that make these schools, and the students themselves, such a rich community asset. Through this experience, symposium participants will return to their own communities and see with new eyes how their own cultural resources can make better schools and better communities.

  • Be inspired by the culture of three place-based schools in Tacoma, serving 1,500 students, using community assets as their laboratory for learning
  • Explore the realm of community assets that place-based schools engage
  • Learn the deep lessons involved with creating lasting cooperative community partnerships
  • Experience the interplay between a learning community culture and the natural and built environments at the Environmental Learning Center / SAMI.


10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Registration, Tour the Galleries of Tacoma Art Museum
12:00 – 1:30 PM Opening Session / Lunch – TAM Auditorium / Tables, Catered Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 PM Walk Over to 1950, Tour SOTA 1950 with Students
2:30 – 4:30 PM Walking Tour of Downtown with Students (UWT & Broadway Center)
4:30 – 5:30 PM Break, Walk to Museum of Glass (MOG)
5:30 – 7:00 PM Reception at Museum of Glass, Tour Galleries and Hot Shop
7:00 – 8:30 PM Dinner on your own
After Hours at The Swiss
FRIDAY | APRIL 19, 2019
8:00 – 8:30 AM Bus from Hotel Murano to Point Defiance Park
8:30 – 9:30 AM Buffet Breakfast at Pagoda Building
9:30 – 10:00 AM Walk / Shuttle from Pagoda to ELC
10:00 – 10:45 AM ELC Tour by Students
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Sack Lunches from ELC, Tours of the Zoo, Aquarium & Park with Students
2:00 – 2:30 PM Bus from ELC to IDEA
2:30 – 4:00 PM Presentation by IDEA Co-Directors and Tour with IDEA Students
4:00 – 4:30 PM Bus from IDEA to Hotel Murano
4:30 – 5:15 PM Break
5:15 – 5:45 PM Shuttle from Hotel Murano to LeMay
5:30 – 7:00 PM Reception at LeMay / America’s Car Museum, Tour the Collection
7:00 – 8:30 PM Dinner @ LeMay / America’s Car Museum
After Hours at 7 Seas


Member: $400
Non-Member: $500
School District Member: $300
School District Non-Member: $400

Become a Sponsor!

Sponsorships are available for $500 or $1,000.

Suggested Lodging

Hotel Murano

Hotel Murano

1320 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: +

Hotel Murano

Hotel Murano