About

Diversity At Norwood

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 learn more about our ongoing efforts.

Equity and Inclusion in Action

Faculty and Staff Programming

List of 6 items.

  • Diversity Leadership Council (DLC)

    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.
    The DLC adheres to the following core beliefs as we consider our priorities, goals and strategies to advance our mission.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Our pedagogy should be child-centered, culturally responsive, and inclusive.
    4. Our school community is strengthened by and should continually work to review and expand diversity-related programming for all constituents.
    5. Our school policies, structures, and traditions should be inclusive and equitable.
  • Professional Development

    As Norwood works to prepare its students with the skills, knowledge, and awareness needed to thrive and effectively navigate a complex world, our 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 the NAIS People of Color Conference, White Privilege Conference, NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute, National Diversity Practitioner’s Institute, AIMS Diversity Conference, the Equity Exchange, among several other regional workshops and conferences.

    Experts and speakers are another critical component of our professional development approach. Previous experts who have presented and supported our work include Dr. Steven Jones,  cultural competence expert; Rosetta Lee, nationally recognized diversity speaker and trainer; Dr. Ali Michael, director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators; Caroline Blackwell, vice president for equity and justice at NAIS; and Schuylar Bailar, nationally recognized speaker on issues of gender and sexuality and first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer.
  • Diversity University

    All faculty and staff participate in a yearly in-house conference experience created by our Diversity Leadership Council called Diversity University (DU). DU offers a conference-style space for faculty and staff to explore a variety of DEI themes and practices relevant to their work as educators and as members of a diversity and inclusive community. DU sessions have included themes such as “Power and Privilege,” “Understanding and Navigating Microaggressions,” “Having Hard Conversations,” “Anti-Racist Lessons and Activities,” “Understanding Gender and Sexuality Diversity,” among many other topics.
  • Anti-Racism Alliance

    The Anti-Racism Alliance (ARA) is intended to provide a space open to all faculty and staff members to gather and explore issues of race, racism, and anti-racism with the aim of collectively supporting growth, learning, and anti-racist actions in our respective roles at the School.
  • PRISM – Faculty and Staff LGBTQ+ Alliance

    PRISM is an alliance space dedicated to learning, connecting, exploring, and advocating for issues related to the LGBTQ+ community. Faculty and staff of all genders and sexualities gather to develop understanding, solidarity, and inclusive practices pertaining to gender and sexuality diversity at Norwood.
  • Faculty and Staff of Color Group

    The FSC is an affinity space where faculty and staff of color can gather to further build a sense of community and to hold space for discussion, affirmation, and support for a racially diverse and inclusive team of teachers and staff at Norwood.

Student Programming

List of 7 items.

  • Chapels and Assemblies

    Throughout the year, as part of our chapel and assembly program, our school community gathers to share stories and messages highlighting the rich diversity of human perspectives and cultures. We also recognize a myriad of multicultural observances and celebrations, often inviting families and students to share about what these special occasions mean to them. Likewise, we recognize heritage months and support a rich cultural and historical understanding of many different issues relevant in our society today.

    A weekly assembly block provides the opportunity to invite speakers to share their wisdom and stories with our students. Presenters have included 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); and Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer, among others.
  • Literature as a Cornerstone for Diversity

    Literature serves as one of the core foundations for Norwood students to explore and examine the beautifully diverse world we live in. Norwood’s libraries have been intentionally designed and developed with a core aim of ensuring a wide diversity of authors, viewpoints, perspectives, identities, cultures, and experiences representing the fullness of the human story. Through fiction and non-fiction memoirs, novels, folktales, fairy tales, trickster tales, myths, and legends, students are introduced to the variety – and the core commonality – of the human experience.

    Our visiting authors program also allows for students to hear from a wide range of amazing storytellers themselves. Past authors have included highly acclaimed authors such as Joseph Lekuton of Kenya, Eloise Greenfield, Lulu Delacre, Lisa Yee, Jacqueline Woodson, Jerry Pinkney, Ellen Oh, Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Varian Johnson. Teachers in every classroom also utilize intentionally diverse sets of books as part of their classroom libraries and curricula, offering windows into worlds of difference from their students, and mirrors reflecting their identities, cultures, and experiences.
  • Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA) Life Skills

    As part of Norwood's Life Skills program, the IDEA (Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action) curriculum provides all students in Lower School (grades PK-4) and Middle School (grades 5-8) the opportunity to examine identity and diversity-related concepts, develop critical social and communication skills, engage in reflection and dialogue, and to support identity development. Our hope is to help students develop the tools and skills to needed to support equity, belonging, and diversity at Norwood and beyond.
  • Students Understanding and Celebrating Culture Ethnicity, Equity, and Diversity (SUCCEED)

    SUCCEED is an affinity space where students who belong to racially under-represented 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.
  • Growing Leaders of Our World (GLOW)

    GLOW (Growing Leaders of Our World) provides fifth and sixth graders with the opportunity to meet for activities and discussions on topics of equity, diversity, and leadership. Topics have included stereotypes, exploring cultural differences, conflict resolution, labeling, and celebrating diversity.
  • Dream

    This student group is open to seventh and eighth graders 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 to consider how they are empowered to act in regards to our school community and beyond. Students are in the driver seat in Dream.
  • Prism – Student LGBTQ+ Alliance

    PRISM is an alliance space open to all seventh and eighth graders, where students learn, connect, explore, and advocate for issues related to the LGBTQ+ community. Students are immersed in conversations and activities led by two faculty co-sponsors to support equitable and inclusive gender and sexuality diversity at Norwood and beyond.

Parent Programming

List of 4 items.

  • Parents of Students of Color

    Parents of Students of Color (PSC) is an affinity group open to families with children who belong to racially underrepresented groups. PSC creates opportunities for students of color and their families to build fellowship, discuss shared experiences and diverse perspectives, and work with the School to support equity, inclusion, and thriving for students of color at Norwood.
  • Parent Forum for Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion

    The Parent Forum 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, community gatherings, and off-site trips, interested members of the parent community engage in meaningful dialogue and exploration of these important issues. The Parent Forum also facilitates visits from experts to speak with parents on a variety of issues. Speakers often work with both faculty and parents, and have included speakers such as Rosetta Lee, nationally recognized diversity speaker and trainer; Dr. Ali Michael, director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators; Caroline Blackwell, vice president for equity and justice at NAIS; Schuylar Bailar, nationally recognized speaker on issues of gender and sexuality and first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer; and Jodie Patterson, activist and author of best seller The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation.
  • South Asian Americans of Norwood School (SAANS)

    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. 
  • Multicultural Festival

    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/culture captains” and share educational material, displays, native dress, art, music, dance, crafts, and food from the country/culture they represent. The whole school is able to “take a trip around the world” during the 90-minute event, learning about and celebrating the many cultures within the Norwood community

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Billy Vargas

    Billy Vargas 

    University of Maryland - B.A.
    The George Washington University - M.A. in Education and Human Development
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.