Middle School (Grades 5-8) Education

The Middle School experience at The Alexander Dawson School, which incorporates grades 5-8, is a time for risk-taking and the pursuit of deeper intellectual challenges. Dawson students take on challenges with the support of master teachers that provide individual attention, promote freedom to be curious, and empower each and every student to find their passions and voice. Learning and growing take place in every corner of the Middle School, from the accessibility of conversations with advisors, teachers, administrators, and coaches, to the strength of a community that fully believes and invests in the growth of each child.

Dawson Middle School Curriculum

List of 3 items.

  • Philosophy

    We believe that some of life’s most important lessons are not found in books and lesson plans. Instead, our goal is that each student who attends Dawson Middle School enters a space that promotes academic, social and personal development.

    Middle school is a time for continued maturation and developing a sense of autonomy and responsibility. While adolescents yearn for greater independence, we achieve this need through increased choice and engaging, relevant instruction. Students know why, as well as what, they are learning. Participatory models such as inquiry-based lessons, project-based learning, hands-on scientific labs, discussion and debate are the norm. Students experience a variety of instructional formats, including small group instruction, independent work time, partner work and opportunities for peer coaching.

    Our small class sizes allow our talented teaching staff to differentiate instruction to match each child’s needs and optimal learning styles. Throughout the Middle School experience, we foster metacognitive skills so students take advantage of the increasing choices found within the curriculum and know themselves as learners.

    There is more than one way to solve any problem, and our teachers are experts in guiding children to find their own paths toward mastery. We foster the development of character through community service projects and an advisory program that works to ensure each child makes meaningful connections with at least one adult on campus as well as classmates. 

    Students participate in multi-day experiential learning trips each year. Students build stronger bonds with each other and their teachers, whether hiking in Yosemite and Zion National Park,  interacting with our nation’s history in Washington, D.C., or learning more about sustainability in Costa Rica.

    Of course, our best indicators of success are our graduates. Many go on to local magnet programs and top independent high schools in the Las Vegas Valley, and some are recruited to the finest boarding schools in the nation. It is Dawson’s “whole child” approach to education – nurturing independence of mind, learning from mistakes, and enjoying self-discovery – that helps our students build greater resilience in the face of challenges both in and out of the classroom, and to make growth and learning a part of their life journey.
  • Insights & Capstone

    Dawson is committed to modern learning. We believe that transformative educational experiences equip students with world-readiness skills, competencies, and mindsets that will allow them to succeed in school and life.

    The middle school insight classes serve as a precursor to the eighth-grade capstone project by allowing students to develop the 21st-century competencies that will be utilized in that work and beyond.

    Students engage in a different Insight class approximately once each quarter. Each class is designed to focus on different critical skills and mindsets (see below) necessary for success. 

    Current Insight classes include:

    5th Grade
    Belonging in Middle School: The Bridge Year
    Seminars: In the Middle, Learning to Learn, Social Dynamics & Digital Literacy
    6th Grade
    Caring for Me and My Environment
    Seminars: Health and Personal Wellness, Health and Human Growth, Desert Sustainability, and Global Perspectives
    7th Grade
    Leadership in Action
    Seminars: Glocality, Group Dynamics, Global Leadership, and Murals that Move
    8th Grade
    Eighth Grade Capstone
    Seminars: High School Placement and the G.B. Henderson Changemakers Capstone Project

    G.B. Henderson Changemakers Capstone Project
    The School’s founder, G.B. Henderson, was a philanthropist and entrepreneur, fascinated by technology, education, and innovation. In 1957, Mr. Henderson established the Alexander Dawson Foundation, naming it for his father and dedicating it to children’s education. His goal was to inspire children to not just learn, but to be responsible citizens who would lead purposeful lives, to counter the lack of inspiration he experienced through his educational journey. The eighth-grade capstone project was named in honor of our founder and his desire to find innovative solutions to local and global issues. 

    The eighth-grade capstone project provides students an opportunity to:
    • explore a selected issue more deeply through research and analysis;
    • collaborate with a local nonprofit agency to learn more about how they are attempting to address an issue facing Las Vegas
    • make recommendations about how to improve the situation based on research and community engagement
    • apply all the knowledge, skills and work habits students have learned aat Dawson to develop an individual project and present a compelling presentation to a panel of peers and community members
  • Electives

    Middle School is a unique and exciting time in a student’s life, a period of remarkable physiological, social, emotional, and cognitive changes that result in self-discovery. Our goal is for students to use this time in their educational journey to engage in elective topics that speak to their interests and curiosities.

    For Dawson students, electives serve as an opportunity to uncover new passions, take risks, and open their minds to new affinities. Dawson’s faculty understands each student’s need for both independence and guidance. With a focus on Problem-Based Learning and exploratory experiences, our Middle School electives enable students to be active participants in their education. Through interdisciplinary and experience-based approaches, students dive deep into a subject area of their choice and become immersed in the process of learning and discovery.

    To learn more about the various electives offered at Dawson, please visit our Electives page.

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.