Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Dawson

Dawson’s Goal for Equity and Inclusion

Collective effervescence is a term Head of School Roxanne Stansbury included in her first communication of the 2021-2022 school year when she described the overwhelming feeling of connectedness with others. At Dawson, we strive every day to create a deep sense of belonging and connectedness for every member of our community. Dawson’s historic focus on building and sustaining a culture of belonging and inclusion is deeply ingrained in our school’s DNA. It is central to who we are, and we will never stop questioning the meaning of belonging or its importance within our community and the world at large.

One of our goals at Dawson is to work hard to ensure every individual who steps foot on our campus feels like a member and not a guest of our community. Developing an awareness and appreciation of our differences helps us to acknowledge, embrace, and celebrate the richness of our community and our culture of inclusiveness.

Diversity and inclusion experts explain that diversity is receiving an invitation to a dance, equity is possessing the resources to attend, and inclusion is being asked to dance.

At Dawson, we take every measure to confirm all community members are a part of the dance. We have created equity goals that focus on the pursuit of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent full participation. Our inclusion goals center on creating environments in which any individual or group is and feels welcomed, respected, and valued enough to participate.

List of 3 items.

  • Students as Thought Partners

    We consistently teach our students that the most important component of communication is listening. Dawson models this belief by carving out the time and space for student voices through student surveys, listening circles, and focus groups. Recent results showed that not all members of our community were being asked to dance.

    The School is committed to listening deeply, and in doing so, we’ve learned a lot: 
    • We heard that some of the new students we eagerly welcomed to our school have struggled to feel like an insider.
    • We learned that our efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice have not necessarily translated to acceptance.
    • We learned that the lived experiences of our students, faculty, and families vary drastically.
    In response to this critical feedback, Dawson made a structural change to our administrative model in May 2021 that provides more perspective on the inclusionary needs of our community.
  • An Innovative Model for Inclusion

    In recent years, independent schools around our nation have responded to the racial reckoning and the needs of students by hiring a director of diversity. In 2020, we held off from searching for a director and instead examined the unique needs of our community. In the end, our belief that inclusivity work is the job of everyone on our campus led us down an alternative path for identifying DEI roles. We opted for a team approach toward leading our campus in DEI work and launched an internal search for five diversity, equity, and inclusion ambassadors who could serve on the School’s main leadership teams.

    Our DEI ambassadors went through a rigorous selection process and were chosen because of their devoted commitment to Dawson’s Diversity Statement and their willingness to examine and evaluate our culture through an inclusivity lens.

    In our efforts to build a community where each individual is included and treated equitably, our DEI ambassadors immediately began the work of intentionally cultivating an environment where students learn the essential skills and tools necessary to thrive in an ever-changing, interconnected, and globally diverse world. 

    Beginning in August of the 2021-2022 school year, the following employees were appointed to the Strategic Direction team, the Advancement team, the People and Culture team, or the Teaching and Learning team as a DEI ambassador: Chrystal Miller, Shea Phillips, Melissa Robinson, Isis Lopez, and Malcolm Hodge.

    In addition, our DEI ambassadors also serve on the Head’s DEI Committee with Board members and Dawson parents. These campus leaders have emerged as mentors and resources for all Dawson employees as we continue our cultural awareness journey. This includes ongoing work in the areas of professional development and personal growth, student wellness and support with voice groups, admissions and retention, financial aid, employee hiring and retention, and – along with the Head’s DEI Committee – acting as guardians of the School’s Diversity Statement.

    The inclusion of DEI ambassadors around the decision-making table has elevated our teams’ abilities to adopt multiple lenses, learn from the stories and life experiences of others, and build empathy for voices that are absent in our conversations. Research shows unequivocally that diverse groups are more innovative than homogenous groups, and diversity forces teams to think more creatively and critically and to better anticipate alternative viewpoints. This semester, we witnessed how the addition of our ambassadors to Dawson’s leadership teams has resulted in thoughtful questioning, constructive criticism, and the welcoming of different perspectives. The diverse opinions and experiences we bring to our work make us Stronger Together. 
  • The Strength of a Shared Value System

    Each prospective family applying to Dawson participates in an admissions interview. One of the questions we ask every family is, “After reading our Diversity Statement, how do you anticipate this will look in your family’s Dawson experience?”

    We know the strength of our community lies in our collective value system when it comes to inclusion. We also know that global competency is essential to our students’ future success.

    Simply put, academic excellence is not achievable without the presence and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe that students who do not have the opportunity to practice and hone these skills will be at a disadvantage during the college admissions process and in the job market. 

    We often talk about the power of belonging. We also talk about the soul-satisfying work of being part of something that helps one find purpose beyond oneself.

    We continue to select Dawson as our educational home because of the collective desire to deliver on our fundamental promise: to enable every member of our community to feel an equal sense of belonging. Living up to the vision of our Diversity Statement is complicated, and we won’t always get it right. But the work begins with committing to our collective beliefs about inclusion.

    Listening to concerns and inviting unique voices to sit around the table and tell their stories improves our work and unifies our community around shared values. We know, from our Board of Trustees to each Dawson family, we want everyone on our campus to be invited to dance.

Partnering with CultureEd Collective

In 2021, Dawson partnered with CultureEd Collective to create sustainable organizational change. Through personalized service and guidance, co-founders Kori McMillion and Jacinta Williams helped the School find a pathway toward creating a culture of belonging and inclusion for every member of our community.

Listen as Founders Kori and Jacinta speak with Head of School Roxanne Stansbury and Assistant Head of School Andrew Bishop about their important work of helping independent schools build and sustain a culture of belonging; what it takes to create a better reality for all people, and the critical skills and competencies students will need in order to thrive in their future.

Podcast: Building and Sustaining a Culture of Belonging with CultureEd Collective

Meet Our DEI Ambassadors

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In addition to serving as the conduit between a Board-level team and a campus committee, Dawson's DEI ambassadors also serve on major school leadership teams to bring an anti-bias, anti-racist lens to decision-making conversations.

Champions For Change By Head of School Roxanne Stansbury

Diversity Statement

The distinct Dawson learning environment is reflective of the diverse community that surrounds us. The celebration of differences drives the Dawson mission and unifies the school-wide focus of self and social awareness. Students benefit from working with and learning from other students and teachers who are varied in learning styles, socioeconomic backgrounds, race, religions, ideology, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, culture and ethnicity. We are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming learning community.

The Alexander Dawson School

The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain, an independent school located on 33-acres in the community of Summerlin, is Nevada’s first Stanford University Challenge Success partner school for students in early childhood through grade eight. Utilizing the unique Challenge Success framework, Dawson uses research-based strategies and programs that emphasize student academics, wellbeing, and a healthy school-life balance to create more engaged, motivated, and resilient learners and leaders. At Dawson, students achieve their individual potential while savoring life and meeting the challenges of the world.