Our mission: Dawson School is dedicated to excellence of mind, body, and character. We prepare students, through challenging and relevant learning, to become creative, resilient problem-solvers who bring their best to the world.

List of 10 news stories.

  • FUSION 2019 is live!

    FUSION is Dawson's annual collection of literary, visual, and audio work from students K-12. This year, every grade is represented, across over 100 works. FUSION is published online: Find a link on the Portal and the Dawson homepage. So much wonderful work: Congratulations to all!
    Read More
  • MISSION STATEMENT

    Dawson is in the self-study phase of re-accreditation. As part of this effort, after a year-long process with faculty, staff, and trustees, Dawson has approved a new Mission Statement.

    "Dawson School is dedicated to excellence of mind, body, and character. We prepare students, through challenging and relevant learning, to become creative, resilient problem-solvers who bring their best to the world."

    We are proud to implement this statement as a full reflection of Dawson's program and goals.
    Read More
  • Respect. Compassion. Courage. Integrity.

    Dawson School challenges its students to achieve excellence not only in mind and body, but in character. The school adopted four virtues years ago as points of emphasis and focus for us all: respect, compassion, courage, and integrity. Every day, our campus strives to live these values, through gestures big and small. Which virtue did you exemplify today?
    Read More
  • Dawson Athletics Ranked #12 Statewide

    Dawson Athletics has been ranked No. 12 statewide - all sports, all classifications - by Mile High Sports Magazine! Earning this recognition from 350+ schools is a testament to the breadth and depth of Dawson's program. Congratulations to our committed students, excellent coaches, and supportive teachers, families, and fans. We couldn’t have done this without everyone involved! #dawsonpride
    Read More
  • Dawson Again Named BEST OF BOULDER

    We are delighted to announce that Dawson was recognized as the best private school in the region in Boulder Weekly's "Best of Boulder" poll for the 13th year. We are honored to have so many people recognize the value Dawson brings to the community, and the importance of excellence in education. 
    Read More
  • DAWSON WELCOMES OVER 150 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO CAMPUS

    Dawson College Counseling is pleased to welcome over 150 colleges and universities to campus to meet with students and staff this fall. We are proud of our relationships with these fine institutions, and of the remarkable students they come to meet. Welcome - we're glad you're here!
    Read More
  • HAIL TO DAWSON

    In honor of fall Spirit Week, do you know all of the words to Dawson's school song?

    Hail to Dawson true,
      with our colors white and blue.
    We pledge to you our Mustang pride
      linked in purpose, side by side.
    As we strive today
      let our motto say
    "Nothing without labor";
      Hail to Dawson all the way!
    Read More
  • Dawson Diversity Statement

    Dawson actively promotes and embraces the exchange of diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds through curricular design, community involvement, and the integration of our four virtues – respect, compassion, courage, and integrity – into every aspect of our community life. It is our responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all members of our community, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, ability, or religion, as well as to cultivate in each student the ability to make empathetic, socially responsible decisions.
                                                                                                                                  -- Dawson Diversity Statement
    Read More
  • Dawson Offers New "Distinction in Coding and Innovation"

    Dawson recognizes the interest and demand for skills around the creative use of technology: Interested Upper School students can now earn special recognition on their transcript if they meet the requirements of a new Disctinction in Coding and Innovation. Students will finish the program with a mastery of several programming languages, will have integrated creative technology projects into classwork, and will creatve five major programming projects. Contact Mr. Nickerson for more details.
    Read More
  • Flags of Dawson

    Recognize these? We have lunch underneath these flags every day, but do you know what they represent?  Over its 47-year history, Dawson has enrolled students from many countries - and those countries are each represented here. If you are attending Dawson from a country that is not included here, please let us know, so that we can add your flag!
    Read More
Archive

A 'Thick' Education

Heather Mock, Associate Head of School/K-8 Director
Hello Everyone,
 
I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July and are enjoying your summer. It is certainly flying by. One of the things I really value about the summer is that the slower pace (it’s crazy how quiet it currently is at school!) allows me some time to take a few steps back and think about the big picture of our school. I usually have some more time to read books and articles, to connect with colleagues doing similar work at other institutions, and to ruminate on how best to support our faculty and kids.
 
This week, it’s especially quiet for me because both of my kids are away from home. While my husband and I were looking forward to this week, we are finding ourselves at a bit of a loss without our kids around. But, I feel very strongly that these experiences away from home are crucial in our kids’ development. The amount I see them grow in their short time away each summer always amazes me. When they can’t call me the second something goes wrong, and when they have to work through issues on their own, they may find themselves uncomfortable, but this discomfort pushes them to work towards solutions. And when they successfully solve a problem, the reward is so much sweeter for having figured it out on their own.
 
A recent article in Psychology Today talks about the value of summer camps for this very reason. I enjoyed the article tremendously, partly because it supports a value about which I feel strongly. But there was something else in the article that struck me and that I have now been thinking about a lot. The article references another article by David Brooks that was in the New York Times in April. In this article, Brooks talks about a summer camp where he worked years ago, and what a strong mark the camp left on him. He then goes on to say that there are two types of institutions: thick and thin. Thick institutions leave their mark, whereas you might pass through a thin institution with little memory of the experience.
 
He goes on to talk about some of the things that make thick institutions thick. My favorite part of his description is when he says that a thick institution “engages the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul.” This is such a wonderful way to think about those institutions in our lives that have truly made their mark upon us. And it’s a wonderful way for me to think about how we do this at Dawson.
 
The first part is the easiest. Because we are, first and foremost, an academic institution, students’ heads are always at the forefront of our minds as we plan. We ask ourselves how students learn best, and we create curriculum and assessments that we hope will engage our students’ minds in new and creative ways. Every time I visit classrooms, I am amazed at the high level of engagement I see. Whether I’m helping the second graders use their math skills to create a budget for a party, participating in kindergarten’s exploration of Japan, or watching an intense debate over civil rights in an 8th grade history class, I am always in for a treat and am continually impressed with the creative ways our teachers engage students.
 
This leads to the next part of Brooks’ quote: the hands. We have known for many years that students learn more by doing, and the importance of hands-on learning has been clear for some time. Our K-6 math program, Math in Focus, emphasizes the value of students first showing their understanding using manipulatives, then demonstrating understanding pictorially, and finally using an algorithm. Students who are able to do this develop a much deeper understanding of how math works than those students who have simply memorized times tables and formulas. And this understanding becomes crucial as the math becomes more complicated.
 
We see students doing hands-on work in all of their classes, of course. Last year, seventh graders worked together in teams during English class to come to a consensus on how to solve a problem. They did this during their reading of Twelve Angry Men to give them a deeper understanding of what it would be like to be on a jury. Our first graders raised money through a bake sale and then used the money they made to go shopping at King Sooper’s for food to donate to Sister Carmen. And our sixth graders worked on the ultimate hands-on project, designing Rube Goldberg machines. There are hundreds of other examples I could provide, but suffice it to say that when I visit classes, very rarely do a see I room where the teacher is standing or sitting in front and doing all of the talking while students sit idly by. No, our teachers are engaging our students’ minds by asking them to jump right in and get their hands dirty (metaphorically but sometimes literally as well!).
 
Now we come to the next part of the quote: the heart. Frankly, this is why I went into teaching, and I think it’s almost impossible to engage students’ heads and hands without first engaging their hearts. When you think back to your own days as a student, what are the classes you remember? More likely than not, the classes that made a difference for you were taught by the teachers with whom you made a connection. And this is where the art of good teaching really comes into play. There is no one right way to connect with students, and yet great teachers figure it out. Whether it’s taking a moment after class to check in with someone who seems sad or cheering a team on during a game, our teachers find ways to reach out to students and show them that they care. Conversations in advisories and classes allow students the chance to explore their values and discuss what’s important to them. The final project in 8th grade is a “This I Believe” essay, an opportunity for students to demonstrate how they came to be where they are in terms of their beliefs and values.
 
The final part of the quote talks about engaging souls. This, to me, is the thing that ties everything else together. When we focus on the whole child – not just academics, or athletics, or even social emotional learning – we work to know them and understand them. And this leads to connections that bind us all together and make us proud to be part of the same community. Brooks talks about how thin institutions think horizontally – people focus on what they can get out the relationship – whereas thick institutions think vertically – people focus on working together to “serve the same higher good.” Each year, as I sit with faculty at the Lower School Closing Ceremony, Middle School Moving Up Day, and Graduation, I am reminded of this feeling. As we see our students develop into strong, articulate, passionate individuals, we collectively beam, and we feel proud to be a part of our thick institution.
 
If you’d like to read either of the articles mentioned, click here:
 
 
Please enjoy the summer, and I’ll see you in August!
 
Take care,
Heather
 
 
Back