Norwood School recognizes diversity as an essential aspect of our school’s vision for educational excellence. As a child-centered school, we recognize that all students and families bring a unique blend of experiences, cultural backgrounds, and social identities that enrich our community when honored, respected, and harnessed as part of the learning and growth of every child. We believe that diversity offers the most dynamic environment for students to thrive when inclusion and equity are at the heart of our efforts.
We believe that diversity offers the most dynamic environment for students to thrive when inclusion and equity are at the heart of our efforts.
As part of a community dedicated to equity, inclusion, and intentional diversity, students at Norwood widen their perspectives, build empathy and genuine connections, discover new and creative ways of thinking, explore critical questions about our complex world, and reflect deeply on how to lead a life that matters. Read below to find out more about our ongoing efforts.
As Norwood works to prepare its students with the skills, knowledge and awareness needed to thrive and effectively navigate a complex world, its faculty and staff are committed to ongoing learning and development by leading and attending workshops, conferences, and trainings on a range of diversity topics. Trainings have included NAIS People of Color Conference, NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute, National Diversity Practitioner’s Institute, AIMS Diversity Conference, GDS Equity Collaborative, and Diversity Directions Independent School Seminar, among others.
Along with attending a variety of outside conferences, seminars and institutes, Norwood faculty and staff are invited to participate in on campus 2-3 hour deep-dive sessions to explore a variety of diversity related themes with the purpose of examining how these topics intersect with and influence our work as educators. Sessions have focused on a range of issues including “Race in America,” “Gender and Sexuality Diversity,” “Socio-economic Diversity,” “The Current Socio-Political Climate,” and others.
Each year all faculty members gather for an afternoon of dialogue and reflection in a conference format that allows teachers to delve into topics of interest and relevance to their practice. Teachers decide from a variety of sessions to choose from that have included themes such as “Power and Privilege,” “Understanding and Navigating Micro-aggressions,” “Literature that Supports Diversity and Inclusion Work,” etc.
Throughout the year, Norwood brings in speakers and authors to open minds to different backgrounds, perspectives, and situations. Speakers have included Rosetta Lee, nationally recognized speaker on diversity and identity; Dr. Steven Jones, diversity and cultural competency consultant; Rob Chasteen-Scheer, founder of Comfort Cases, a nonprofit that supports children in the foster system; representatives of the National Coalition of the Homeless; Grammy nominated artist Christylez Bacon; Samantha Davis from So Others Might Eat (SOME); Ali Michael, co-founder and director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators; Caroline Blackwell, vice president for equity and justice at The Equity Exchange; and Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer, Authors have included Joseph Lekuton of Kenya, Eloise Greenfield, Lulu Delacre, Lisa Yee, Jacqueline Woodson, Jerry Pinkney, and Ellen Oh.
Parents of Students of Color is a group established to further build a community at Norwood that understands and acts on issues of special concern to families of color and institutes plans and programs to help students achieve the highest level of personal and academic success. The group also works with the School to celebrate the unique perspectives that children from a variety of backgrounds bring to our classrooms and lives.
The PFIDI creates opportunities for all parents to come together to explore how issues of identity, diversity, and inclusion shape the lives of our children and community. Through facilitated discussions, speaker engagements, and other channels, interested members of the parent community engage in meaningful dialogue and exploration of these important issues.
SAANS, which means “breath” in Hindi, is a place for children and parents alike to come together in community and explore South Asian culture, engage in service opportunities, and enjoy delicious South Asian food.
SUCCEED is an affinity space where students who belong to racially underrepresented groups in grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 are invited to come together and participate in a variety of games, activities and exercises to help build healthy identity development and provide a space for students to connect, grow friendships and discuss issues of importance in their lives.
Norwood parents come together to build community, hold discussions, and reflect on issues of equity and inclusion across the broad spectrum of gender and sexual identities in our community and beyond. The group meets 2-3 times a year.
Each year, the Norwood community gathers to celebrate the diverse world in which we live, as well as the variety of cultures represented among our own families. Members of our school community serve as “country captains” and share educational material, displays, native dress, art, music, dance, crafts, and food from the country they represent. The whole school is able to “take a trip around the world” during the three-hour event.
The Norwood libraries feature diverse literature as the cornerstone of our program to provide a window into the lives of children from cultures all around the world. Through memoirs, novels, folktales, fairy tales, trickster tales, myths, and legends, students are introduced to the variety – and the core commonality – of the human experience. In addition to the diversity of literature, the collection of books in the two libraries purposely includes quality works representing every constituent. Seeking out excellent diverse material is a core mission of Norwood’s acquisition policy and goals.
This student group is open to seventh- and eighth-grade students who wish to engage in important and meaningful conversations to broaden understanding and explore ways to take action on issues of identity, diversity, equity, and inclusion. DREAM provides a space for students to engage their peers through guided dialogue, reflective exercises, and mindful games and activities, while providing opportunities for students to consider how they are empowered to act in regards to our school community and beyond. Students are in the driver seat in DREAM.
GLOW (Growing Leaders of Our World) provides fifth and sixth graders with the opportunity to meet for activities and discussions on topics of equity and diversity. Topics have included stereotypes, exploring cultural differences, conflict resolution, labeling, and celebrating diversity.
Part of our Life Skills Curriculum, the IDEA (Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action) Curriculum brings about further understanding of identity development and issues surrounding equity and action in our community and society. Students in MS all go through the curriculum with age appropriate content and opportunity for discussion.
The DLC supports the Norwood mission by promoting engaged citizenship and advancing institutional diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competence. This work is essential to educational excellence and is the responsibility of all members of the community.
DLC Core Beliefs
The Diversity Leadership Council adheres to the following core beliefs as we consider our priorities, goals and strategies to advance our mission.
A diverse school community benefits everyone when we continually work to advance a school culture of inclusion, equity, and community, and actively work against the negative effects of bias and stereotypes.
Our curriculum should be a reflection of our diverse learning community and complex world; it should represent a wide variety of perspectives and experiences, provide cultural relevance for students, and foster critical thinking around issues of justice and equity.
Our pedagogy should be child-centered, culturally responsive, and inclusive.
Our school community is strengthened by and should continually work to review and expand diversity related programming for all constituents.
Our school policies, structures and traditions should be inclusive and equitable.
Norwood is a wonderful, diverse place where you have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside a loving, supportive community.
– FINN '15
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.