We'll Help Find the Right High School for Your Child

Welcome to Dawson's High School Planning Program!

Dawson approaches the high school planning process with the same intensity as a high school's college placement program. Once your child graduates from Dawson, we know that the high school they attend will be critical in continuing their intellectual and personal growth in college and beyond. That is why Dawson has a personalized high school guidance program, including on and off-campus events and individual counseling. 

Our High School Planning Team partners with students and their families so that each eighth-grade student finds a high school that meets their expectations and maximizes their potential. Whether a Dawson student seeks a local public magnet, career and tech academies, private schools or boarding schools, our team provides guidance in every step and ensures that each family has the tools necessary to navigate this process.

Support & Services Include:

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  • Personalized Advice and Service

    All Dawson eighth-graders are assigned a High School Planning Advisor. Each member of the High School Planning Team works with no more than 12 students in a given year.
  • Personalized Access and Partnership

    Access to individuals who aim to personalize the high school application process. What does your child need or want? How do we balance that with what is best in the family's eyes? It's all about partnership and meeting our Mission and Vision.
  • Small Group Information Sessions with Boarding School Representatives

    On-campus small group information sessions by elite and highly selective boarding schools.

    For the 2022-2023 school year, the following boarding schools presented to Dawson students:
    • The Berkshire School - Sheffield, Massachusetts
    • Choate Rosemary Hall - Wallingford, Connecticut 
    • The Thacher School - Ojai, California 
    • Cate School - Carpinteria, California
    • Dunn School - Los Olivos, CA
    • Stevenson School - Pebble Beach, CA
    • Miss Porter’s School - Farmington, CT
    • St. Paul’s School - Concord, NH
    • Tabor Academy - Marion, MA
    For the 2021-2022 school year, the following boarding schools presented to Dawson students:
    • The Berkshire School - Sheffield, Massachusetts
    • The Middlesex School - Concord, Massachusetts 
    • Choate Rosemary Hall - Wallingford, Connecticut 
    • Kimball Union Academy - Plainfield, New Hampshire
    • The Holderness School - Plymouth, New Hampshire
    • The Thacher School - Ojai, California 
    • Cate School - Carpinteria, California
    • Midland School - Los Olivos, California
    • Dunn School - Los Olivos, CA
    • Fountain Valley School - Colorado Springs, CO 
    • Kent School - Kent, CT  
    • Santa Catalina - Monterey, CA
    • Stevenson School - Pebble Beach, CA
    • The Webb Schools - Claremont, CA
    Want to schedule a visit to Dawson? Contact Assistant Head of School Andrew Bishop.
  • Shadow Days

    The opportunity to shadow students at local public and private schools.
  • Campus Visits By Local Representatives

    On-campus visits by public and private school representatives in the Las Vegas Valley.
  • SSAT Testing

    On-campus SSAT testing for Dawson students as well as local Las Vegas students.
  • Resources, Communication and Information

    Regular newsletters and podcasts about the high school placement process, featuring industry experts.

2015-2023 Dawson Graduates Matriculated At:

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  • Boarding & Day Schools

    Annie Wright Schools
    Blair Academy
    Cate School
    Choate Rosemary Hall
    Dawson School Colorado
    Deerfield Academy
    Forman School
    The Governor’s Academy
    Hawai’i Preparatory School
    Holderness School
    Hotchkiss School
    Interlochen Center for the Arts
    Lake Forest Academy
    Midland School
    Miss Porter’s School
    Phillips Exeter Academy
    Santa Catalina School
    Shattuck’s St. Mary’s School
    St. Paul’s School
    Stevenson School
    The Taft School
    The Thacher School
    The Webb Schools
  • Local Las Vegas Schools

    A-Tech (Computer Science)
    A-Tech (Legal Studies)
    Adelson Educational Campus
    American Preparatory School
    Amplus Academy
    Bishop Gorman High School
    Centennial High School
    Clark High School (AMSAT)
    Clark High School (AOF)
    Coronado High School
    College of Southern Nevada High School
    Faith Lutheran High School
    Home School
    Las Vegas Academy (2D Art)
    Las Vegas Academy (Band)
    Las Vegas Academy (Dance)
    Las Vegas Academy (Guitar)
    Las Vegas Academy (Musical Theater)
    Las Vegas Academy (Photography)
    Las Vegas Academy (Piano)
    Las Vegas Academy (Technical Theater)
    Las Vegas Academy (Vocal)
    The Meadows School
    Northwest Career and Technical Academy (Education)
    Northwest Career and Technical Academy (Engineering & Design)
    Palo Verde High School
    Rancho High School (Aviation)
    Southeast Career and Technical Academy (Game Design)
    Southeast Career and Technical Academy (Graphic Design)
    Spring Valley High School, IB Program
    West Career and Technical Academy (Biotechnology)
    West Career and Technical Academy (Business Management)
    West Career and Technical Academy (Digital Media)
    West Career and Technical Academy (Environmental Science)

High School Planning Year At-A-Glance

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  • Year At-A-Glance

    • Shadow days begin at area private schools
    • Register for SSAT Prep Classes. Purchase your prep book here.  
            Looking at Boarding Schools?
    October         Boarding School Students 
    • SSAT administration begins and will continue monthly
    • Narrow your choices for high schools
    • Begin applications if you haven't already
    • Private and boarding school students - ask teachers for letters of recommendations prior to Thanksgiving break!
    • Open house events begin for magnet and CTA programs
    • Complete your application for magnet and CTAs
    • Narrow your choices to three programs only
    • Admissions assessments begin for all private schools 
    • Boarding school students are adding finishing touches to their applications
    • Magnet and CTA applications are due early January! 
    • Most boarding school applications are due
    • Boarding school decisions come out 
    • Magnet and CTA decisions usually come out
    • Faith and Gorman decisions generally come out later in the month

Where Do Dawson Graduates Go to College?

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Contact Information

If you would like to learn more about the high school planning process, or if you are a high school admissions officer that would like to visit Dawson and meet our students, please contact Assistant Head of School Andrew Bishop.

For information related to our academic program, transcript requests or attendance, please contact Academic Manager Kristen Kissel or Middle School Director Chris Estrella

Chris Estrella

Chris was born in Tucson, Arizona and raised in Las Vegas. He has been with The Alexander Dawson School since 2011. Chris earned a B.A. degree in Chemistry from Lewis and Clark College and M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV. His career in education began with Teach For America as a corps member in the Las Vegas Valley. He started at Dawson as a Middle School science teacher and is now the Director of Middle School. In his free time, Chris enjoys exercise, food, hiking, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Wayne Pittman

Mr. Wayne received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He worked at The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain in the B.A.S.E Program for three years before joining the Learning Support Team and working in the classroom full-time. Previously, Mr. Wayne worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada for two years assisting with at-risk youth all over the valley.

Asti Ptak

Ms. Ptak joined Dawson in 2016 as the new School Counselor for students in grades 5-8. Prior to joining the Dawson community, she worked for seven years at a non-profit that helped underserved youth prepare for a bright future, including college preparation. As an Adjunct Professor at Great Basin College, and previously at UNLV for ten years, she also has a firm understanding of the skills and preparation our students need to be successful at the collegiate level. She spent her first few months at Dawson touring local private schools, learning the intricacies of Magnet Schools and CTAs, and traveling throughout California to meet with ten West Coast boarding schools. She is passionate about finding the best high school fit for all of our Dawson students. Ms. Ptak will also be an option when your student chooses which administrative member they want to write their letter of recommendation. 

Andrew Bishop

Andrew‘s first introduction to independent schools was when he began his high school experience at The Groton School. These transformative four years shaped Andrew‘s life and led him to pursue a career in education.  Before coming to the Alexander Dawson School, Andrew spent nine years at Berwick Academy serving as their Director of Admission and Financial Aid. During his time at Berwick, Andrew was part of the English department, coached lacrosse and hockey, was a member of the school’s diversity initiatives, and taught eighth-grade Ethics. Most recently, Andrew was the Assistant Head of School for Enrollment at Gould Academy; in this role, Andrew spearheaded initiatives related to student recruitment and retention as well as the school’s marketing and branding.  Andrew completed a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership at Columbia University. At Columbia, Andrew worked with Harlem Academy’s Admission Office developing new methods of applicant assessment based on research conducted at UPenn, Stanford, and Columbia’s schools of education. In collaboration with others, Andrew crafted a new admissions policy for Harlem Academy that placed a greater value on noncognitive skills such as character, family partnership, and resilience.  Andrew lives in Las Vegas with his wife Kyle and three young children.

Matsuko Freeman

Matsuko Freeman was born in Ken, Japan, and as a young child immigrated to the United States. Upon living in the United States for 7 years, she became a naturalized American citizen.  She lived in Southern California for most of her life,  before moving to Las Vegas, where she has been a resident for the past 12+ years. Matsuko holds a BA in Education and an MA in Public Administration. Matsuko’s career originated in the private sector. She previously held the position of Vice President of Operations for Alo Concepts, Inc. and also held positions as VP Mfg. & VP Operations for Jason Natural Products. After 20 years in the private sector, Matsuko sought a more rewarding career in education. She currently holds 18 years of teaching experience, including 10 years at Dawson. Previously she taught seventh-grade science prior to joining the Health & Fitness team. Her role at Dawson now includes faculty member and Advisor. Aside from her passion for teaching and love of her students, Matsuko enjoys traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit her daughter who is the Corporate Counsel for a major automaker, and spending lots of time with her grandson Mason, a Dawson alumnus.

Kristen Kissel

Kristen Kissel has worked at Dawson for nearly 10 years and is currently the Academic Program Coordinator. She is passionate about the high school planning program and also the proud parent of two Amazing Dawson Alums!

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.