Head's Welcome

Norwood School is a place where students are challenged, where students are supported, and where there is a rigorous pursuit of developing positive character in young people. 
- Matthew Gould, Head of School

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Norwood School website. I invite you to explore this site and learn more about our intentional mission and vision as an independent lower school and middle school that places high value on both challenge and support for its students. We believe that appropriate challenge gives children vision and direction, focus, and perseverance. At the same time, support gives our students a serenity that allows them freedom from worry and fear. Both are critical for children’s development and both comingle in remarkable ways at this exceptional school.
For more than seven decades, a respect and love for childhood has driven educational practice at Norwood. For us, the needs of children inform all of our decisions. We create a nurturing PK-8 environment where childhood is cherished and where children are challenged and supported as they develop. Our students are trusted to take on responsibilities that are necessary for the community to be successful. The emphasis at Norwood is as much on character education as it is on academics. We are fortunate to have such a well-rounded, kind, compassionate, diverse, and talented student body.
The level of passion, commitment, and love for this school is profound. And the level of dedication to providing an exceptional child-centered educational experience for our students is amazing. Our students benefit from outstanding faculty in every grade and every classroom – talented women and men committed to the whole development of every student in their classroom. The average tenure of our faculty is over 11 years; many have graduate degrees and come from diverse backgrounds that enrich our curriculum with real-world experiences.

Over and over, I hear people say that Norwood students are kind; Norwood students have noticeably strong interpersonal skills; Norwood students can stand up and talk in front of a group and can advocate for themselves; Norwood students are confident; Norwood students are leaders. To me, these are the finest compliments. This is the “Norwood difference” that will serve our students incredibly well, not only in high school, but in college, the work force, and throughout their lives.

Simply put, Norwood School is a wonderful place to be a child. And at the end of their Norwood journeys, our graduates are fully prepared for the next step. Our eighth graders are supported during a comprehensive high school placement process and enter the most selective schools in the Washington, D.C., area equipped with the curiosity and confidence, the initiative and drive, and the knowledge, imagination, and skills they will need to achieve success.

If I’ve piqued your interest and you would like to learn more about Norwood, please contact our Admission Office to arrange a visit to our spectacular 40-acre campus where there is plenty of room for children to grow in mind, body, and character. We will happily give you a tour of our academic buildings (including our brand new Marriott Early Childhood Building for grades PK-2), art studios, music rooms, athletic facilities, and beautiful outdoor spaces so that you can see and feel the “Norwood difference” for yourself.

I look forward to meeting you.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
Head of School

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  • Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.

    Matthew Gould is an experienced head with a passion for educating young children. He believes wholeheartedly in Norwood’s commitment to educating the whole child in a joyful and nurturing learning environment. Matthew sees the PK-8 model as one that celebrates childhood, and provides the right combination of academic challenge, joy in learning, creative expression, character development, and leadership. 

    From 2004-2014, Matthew was head of Community School in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned his BA in sociology and anthropology from Earlham College and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago. Matthew began his career in education as a kindergarten teacher at Newtown Friends School in Pennsylvania, where he also taught second grade. While studying at the University of Chicago, Matthew taught at the Murray Language Academy, serving as an assistant kindergarten teacher and providing individual instructional support. In 1997, Matthew became assistant head of school and head of lower school at Far Brook School, Short Hills, New Jersey, where he served until 2004.

    Matthew’s community leadership highlights his commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as his resolve to be a life-long learner. He was an active member of the Independent Schools of St. Louis where he chaired the Teacher Hiring Fair to Promote Diversity which resulted in 21 teachers of color being hired by local independent schools in the St. Louis area since 2007. Additionally, Matthew has served on various independent school associations’ accreditation teams contributing to the review and evaluation of independent schools and educational best practices. He currently serves on the boards of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW) and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS).
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.