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Dawson History

The year 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Alexander Dawson Foundation. Jerry Henderson, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, dedicated the Foundation to the field of education and named it in honor of his father, Alexander Dawson Henderson.

In 1970, the foundation expanded a summer camp it ran in Ward, Colorado, into a year-round school located eight miles east of Boulder. Today, the Colorado Dawson School is the premier college prep school in Boulder County, and it most certainly lives up to the twin mottoes of Jerry Henderson, “Nothing without labor” and “Love of the Land.”
In 1996, the Alexander Dawson Foundation decided to open a school in Las Vegas, the Foundation’s home for more than 30 years. A site with commanding views of the Spring Mountains was purchased, and a school was designed to turn a desert into a living classroom. Ground was broken in 1999, and the doors opened on September 6, 2000. The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain’s mission is to challenge students to achieve excellence in mind, body and character.

The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain is governed by an eight-member board; four Foundation Trustees, Chairman John O'Brien, Joe Borini, Oz Gutsche and Farrow Smith; three volunteer parent trustees - Lisa Eyler, Carla Van Kalsbeek, and Mindy Oliveri; and non-parent Charlie Silvestri, who is a community education leader.

What does the Board do? The Board holds the school in trust. It has a fiduciary obligation to safeguard the institution and its future wellbeing. According to the Foundation’s Charter, the Board has three primary responsibilities. It approves the school’s annual budget and it has the authority to hire and fire the Headmaster. The Board also assists the school in developing long-term strategies and school policies.

The Alexander Dawson Foundation spent $58 million for the land, the school facilities, the interest expenses on the construction bonds, and in shortfall budget support during the school’s early years.

With the 400-plus families, 120 faculty and staff, added to all of the 600 students currently enrolled, our entire Dawson school community is almost 2,000 people.

The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain is one of only three private schools in all of Southern Nevada to be nationally and regionally accredited. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and The Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) hold their member schools to a very high standard of excellence in the areas of educational best practice, financial accountability and sustainability, and ethical governance.