We Believe in Modern Spaces for Modern Learning

Each Dawson student is one of a kind and just as our approach toward world readiness has evolved, it’s now time for the physical landscape of our campus to follow suit. With the School’s commitment to philanthropy as the guide, our goal is to further enhance more innovative and creative spaces across our school campus that are designed to meet the modern learning needs of our students. 
Dawson students work at tables in the Dawson Design Lab

What do you think of when you hear the words “modern learning”? Technology is most likely the first thing that popped into your head. And that’s okay. A lot of important learning today incorporates a vast amount of technology in many fascinating ways. But modern learning encompasses so much more than just robots and automation; it also includes significant human-centered competencies.

Modern learning is an academic approach that creates opportunities and experiences that prepare students for the real world. Its building blocks are the foundational skills of reading, writing, and math, yet it incorporates the immersive, future-ready skills, concepts, and mindsets students need to find success in an ever-changing world. The learning is relevant and continuous, requires the stamina to problem solve over long periods of time, and offers students the opportunity to reflect on the content for deeper understanding and richer experiences. 

Now, think back to your elementary or middle school environment. Most likely, you attended a traditional brick-and-mortar school in which the classroom chairs and desks were arranged in neat, symmetrical rows of students sitting in alphabetical order. I myself recall very little talking allowed during lessons, which meant absolutely no collaboration of any kind between students and feeling too nervous to interrupt the silence by asking the teacher a clarifying question. It is easy to determine how this might impact any young student’s motivation, confidence, or ability to self-advocate. Conversely, if you have spent any time in a Dawson classroom, you know it is student-centered with voice and choice at the root of learning. 

students collaborate on classroom floor
Modern learning requires modern spaces
Each Dawson student is one of a kind, and our physical spaces need to support the personalized needs of these dynamic and curious learners. So just as our approach toward world readiness has evolved, it’s now time for the landscape of our campus to follow suit. 

Research on the impact of modern learning spaces shows the many whole-child advantages it offers to students, including benefits to health and wellbeing, school culture, and academics.
  • Modern learning spaces encourage collaboration, communication, critical thinking, productivity, and a reduction to sedentary behavior. 
  • They create a more calm and relaxing environment for students, thereby decreasing their stress and anxiety levels and boosting academic performance and engagement. 
  • More than just aesthetically pleasing and fun, future-minded spaces deliver an important paradigm shift when it comes to the way teachers teach: Educators give a lot of power over to their students when allowing them to decide where and with whom they want to work. This motivates students to develop agency and use their voices to make choices independently. 
  • It increases their self-awareness and sense of responsibility when determining the most appropriate and productive setting to accomplish their work. Quite simply, they understand who they are as a learner and collaborator.
Dawson Middle School Students collaborating in art classroom

Support for Dawson’s modern learning spaces
During our 2023 We Believe in Dawson Annual Fund campaign, we invited our community to reinvest their money into our campus and kids by supporting the many extraordinary indoor and outdoor areas that spark our students’ individual potential through curious, collaborative, and exploratory learning opportunities.

With the School’s commitment to philanthropy as the guide, our goal is to further enhance more innovative and creative spaces across our beautiful 33-acre campus that are designed to meet the modern learning needs of our students. These campus spaces are both big and small, exciting and practical, visionary and realistic. 

Dawson Students with teacher in the Ruffin Organic Garden

Summer renovations we are excited to continue raising funds for include everything from fresh coats of paint on the walls and new flooring in various buildings to the overhaul of entire community spaces with design plans that inextricably illustrate the incredible value of your child’s Dawson education: 
  • Fine Arts Building
    • Middle School design space, an indoor/outdoor hybrid innovation lab where students can design and fabricate with easy access to the Ruffin Organic Garden and the Middle School building
  • Middle School Building
    • Removal of concrete benches and addition of flexible seating and other collaborative workspaces throughout the lobby
    • Areas that allow for student work to live on public display
    • Addition of digital monitors throughout the hallways to allow for dynamic displays of student learning
  • Lower School Building
    • Flexible seating in the community Kiva area for a space where kids can work together and participate in one-on-one learning sessions
  • Ruffin Organic Garden
    • Replenishing the Garden so it is not just a program but a three-fold philosophy that seeks to benefit both our school and local community
      • Nourishment: Growing organic food on a scale large enough to incorporate into the Dawson Dining Hall 
      • Community Activation: Growing, harvesting, and packaging food for donation to local food banks or farmers’ markets 
      • Classroom Activation: Engaging students and teachers in a curriculum that supports connections in nature, environmental stewardship, and Garden care 
Dawson Middle School student works with teacher on laser cut machine
As we put the finishing touches on our campus blueprint for the future, it’s an exciting time for Dawson. The spirit and generosity of our community enhance our program in impactful ways, and we are grateful that the partnerships we form help raise critical resources in support of the long-term sustainability of the School. Each and every gift in support of the Dawson Annual Fund has an immeasurable impact across our campus and is a tangible way to demonstrate your belief in the modern learning we are excited to continue in the many years ahead.

By Rachael Lachhwani
Communications Manager

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.