This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Alexander Dawson School5
Posted November 17, 2014
- a parent
We are new to Dawson this year and I am troubled by the previous review. Contrary to their experience, we have two middle school students and we have never been part of a school that is as accepting and supportive of them. From the caring and talented teachers to leaders that articulate the 'how and what' sets Dawson apart, it has been a great transition to a great community for our family. I feel the school cares about the overall development of my children, beyond their academic achievement. They are able to tap into their interests and passions and my children can't wait to get to Dawson, every morning. We couldn't ask for more!
We came to Dawson thinking it was an open and welcoming environment for our child. Instead, we found a school that heavily favors some families above others and disregards the I put of their capable teachers. What the teachers try to build here is destroyed by the administration's obsession with the next big donor, and the children suffer as a result.
My son was accepted into the summer college-bound program here, based on exceptional grades, counselor recommendation, and outstanding citizenship. After three days he was informed that he was being dropped due to them not being willing to work with his Dyspraxia (a primarily handwriting disability which they knew he had before accepting him). They didn't even allow him back to say good-bye to the friends he had met, and they were demeaning and humiliating when they informed me he was being 'released'. Students who don't fit into the Dawson mold are not welcome here.
We had great expectations of Dawson, and were excited when my son started to attend the lower school. We could not have been more disappointed. It is not concerned with the "whole student" as they claim; nor is it a more progressive school than their peers in Las Vegas. Ask parents in the ecec and lower school and you'll hear a chorus of complaints about the school - focus on 'checking boxes' in the curiculum vs. actually helping kids to learn, rush to judgements about young children, tolerance of behavior such as bullying as long as they like the parents, teachers with no prior lower school or early childhood experience. Every parent I know there wishes they could leave, but unfortunately most of them are at Dawson because they also didn't like the alternatives. But, at least the alternatives tell you clearly what they believe in, vs. Dawson which pretends it is something it is not - a more open minded school focused on the whole student.
I am a grateful grandparent of a Dawson middle schooler. Coming from a failing public school after fourth grade, I have seen my granddaughter blossom in confidence, character and academic mastery. The transformative approach and nurturing atmosphere, combined with high expectations have produced more than her parents and I could have imagined. Next year she will graduate, prepared to take on our wonderful and complex world.
It has been interesting, to say the least to read some of these comments. I wonder sometimes what the motivation might be. My experiences have been enormously positive. My daughter came from the CCSD 4 years ago to Dawson. She came in to Dawson as a timid student and will graduate this year as a confident, kind and caring girl. She wants to continue learning and has a clear-cut vision for her future that has been fostered by caring, challenging teachers! The students at Dawson RISE to the challenge as opposed to "dumbing down" for students who need much more help. The students who need extra help at Dawson, get the help they need from wonderful teachers and support staff. I will be FOREVER GRATEFUL to the Alexander Dawson School!
I taught at AD several years ago. The admin. that I worked with were concerned for the students best interests, but seemed to be pawns for the wealthiest of parents. The school encouraged teachers to deliver a unique education, and when I was there, there were some really great instructors delivering great content. I do feel that a few parents with money and clout had undue influence ... If your child attends AD, just be aware pared to deal with your child's classmate's parents! If you are middle class or old money, it would be better to stay away from the nouveau riche class.
There have been many administration changes(Headmaster, Head of Middle School) which have affected staff morale. We spent 12 years there and experienced these changes. Lower School is still doing an exeptional job. Middle school needs a strong leader who knows about middle school curriculum. Hopefully the new 2011-12 Head of Middle School Head can provide leadership and curriculum knowledge. Sadly, many excellent Middle School teachers left due to fustration w/ the administration; some current Middle School teachers are arrogant and will cater to "parents who donate money to the school". Science and Math program are strong, but Middle School English teachers need to cooperate w/ one another. Pricey tuition; older students & parents can be "snobs" to those who receive financial need scholarship.
The obvious negative about this school is the cost. It's kind of insane. But if you can afford the tuition and are comparing this school to the other private schools, I have to tell you I am very, very happy with this school. This year is my daughter's third year at Dawson. She loves going to school and learning. She says her favorite subjects are math and science. That's crazy! The teachers here are over qualified and enthusiastic, and the staff really cares. I feel like my daughter gets to go to her second home every day with a second family who loves her. She has fun and is pushed at the same time. Dawson found that perfect balance that every parent wants for their child. There are some good public schools in Las Vegas, but paying the tuition at Dawson gets you an unbeatable teacher/student ratio, an amazing teacher every year, diverse and excellent electives and after school activities, and an administration that really cares for your child. I know the cost is insane, and they ask for annual donations to the school (which bugs me), but I feel there is no better use of my money, and there is definitely no better school and education and atmosphere than Dawson.
I am a college instructor and chose Dawson for my children because unlike the nearby public schools, Dawson prepares the whole child. While I believe the education at the public schools are adequate, Dawson fosters a love for learning. I am disappointed that several parents allow personal conflicts with administration to skew their opinion of a school whose pedagogy reflects years of research for successful learning that trusts the learning process. Perhaps average test scores reflect the accurate ability of a particular child, rather than the preparation provided by the school. Everyday, my daughter and son jump out of the car excited about learning. They offer 3 days of studio art, foreign language, physical education and science. The food is organic and healthy. A good percentage of the students are recipients of financial aid and represent a diverse socio-economic background. Dawson is a wonderful school.