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Northeast Tacoma Elementary - An arts-fused school

Our Principal, Mr. Zarling


I am a father, husband, and principal. My daughter is a sixth grader in Tacoma Public Schools. My wife is an amazing school counselor/school social worker/ teacher.  I am a principal who loves working with students, teachers, and educational support staff to make sure we are all learning and improving. 

I mainly grew up in Lakewood, WA but moved around a lot as a young child.  I attended UW and WWU.  I taught in Salinas, CA and Bainbridge Island.  For the last 13 years, I have been a principal at the elementary and middle school levels.  We live in Tacoma, but we also lived in the Caribbean where I was an international school principal in Trinidad and Tobago. When the opportunity came up to work with elementary students once again in the community I live in, I could not pass it up. I cannot express how happy and impressed I am with NET and Tacoma Public Schools as a principal and parent.


Hear Mr. Zarling's "Dream Statement"


Why am I a Principal?  

I Believe Education Shapes Society

Education is directly responsible for economic mobility, building strong cultures and communities, reducing prejudice, increasing equality, and preventing social, economic, environmental, and political problems.

I Believe Learning Shapes the Individual

Education shapes an individual’s point of view/values, emotions, relationship with the world around them, and their biology.  New neurological brain research found that nature/nurture/learning changes the physiology of the brain.

I Believe Learning is Engaging

To reach our students, they must be highly engaged in the learning. There must be student ownership (student discourse/discussion), accessibility (differentiated instruction), and purpose (connections to self and outside world). We are here for them, not them here for us (teacher-centered vs student-centered).

I Believe Lifelong Learners are Created by Engaged Learning

Education is inquisitive by nature, which should result in having more questions as you learn. The more we learn, the less we realize we know. I believe fostering a school climate of authentic learning rather than a completion driven climate pushes learners to continue their education since it is a lifelong process of discoveries.

I Believe Collaboration Enhances Learning

To be successful as a leader, instructor, learner, and student, we all must collaborate since our strength is our diversity of perspectives and learning from one another. Learning is not as effective in isolation.  Even reading a book is not in isolation, the reading is entering into a discourse that the author is writing about.

I Believe We Need to do Whatever it Takes

All students will learn. The rate, quantity, and quality depend on us. We must continually improve our schools to ensure our students meet their full potential, regardless of any obstacle. "It is not about where you end up, but rather the distance you had to travel".  If it is not good enough for my daughter, I must do something to help the person or situation improve.