Why Norwood

The Norwood PK-8 Experience

At Norwood School, we firmly believe in the distinct advantages a PK-8 school offers, during the most critical years of a child’s intellectual, social, and emotional development. We provide a joyful, nurturing, and inclusive environment where children and young adolescents feel safe taking risks and challenging themselves to go further than they ever thought possible. At Norwood, we educate and empower our students, and we celebrate childhood to its fullest extent.

Core Beliefs and Character Education

List of 4 items.

  • The Power of PK-8

    Norwood’s challenging and well-rounded program is designed to maximize the growth and development of children during the critical elementary and middle school years. Childhood is slowed down and savored as students figure out strengths, weaknesses, talents, and interests in a supportive family-like community that encourages safe risk-taking. In addition, students benefit from a coordinated educational mission and program taught throughout the PK-8 continuum. By eighth grade, students – along with their parents and teachers – understand their strengths, learning style, and interests, and are well equipped to make the right decision about the “best match” high school. See also: High School Placement.
  • Child-Centered Learning

    Norwood sets the same high standards of achievement and provides different routes, environments, and pacing for each child to get there. Teachers see students as individual learners and customize instruction to each student’s needs and interests. Students have multiple opportunities to deepen their understanding of concepts through application and practice. Graduates move on to high school empowered to be full participants in the learning process, resulting in increased engagement, confidence, and success. See also: Head of School Matthew Gould Reflects on the Benefits of Child-Centered Learning and Whole-Child Education.
  • How you lead your life matters

    Character education is fundamental to the PK-8 educational model and has always been an essential component of the Norwood experience. We believe that education is fundamentally a moral endeavor and that a school should stand for and teach a set of core values: the pursuit of knowledge, integrity, respect, responsibility, diligence, kindness, cooperation, and service. Character lessons are woven into academics, physical education and athletics, art, music, and, of course, service learning. Each day begins with a lesson about the value of the month, which is presented during morning chapel. “How you lead your life matters” is more than a school motto; they are the words we live by.

    Community service is an important component of character education at Norwood and demonstrates to students that how they lead their lives really does matter. Children in all grades take part in all-school projects as well as grade-level projects. In seventh grade, students rotate through five off-campus community service agencies, such as Martha’s Table, Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary, and a geriatric day care center. In eighth grade, students pick one project and devote all six of their community service days to that agency. In addition, seventh and eighth graders have the opportunity to participate in the Washington Quaker Workcamp weekends.
  • Joyful Learning Community

    Since its founding more than 70 years ago by Frances Marsh, Norwood has been a “happy place of learning for children…filled with art and music…where each child feels supported and valued.” Great emphasis is placed on making learning a joyful student-centered process, where children are actively engaged in their education. Our goal is for a child to leave school every day excited to come back in the morning.

Academic Excellence

List of 7 items.

  • Challenge Without Frustration

    A Norwood education involves a rigorous pursuit of learning that is challenging for every student, but meets them where they are and provides numerous routes to success while nurturing a love for learning along the way. It has been said that Norwood teachers do an excellent job at masking the rigor of the curriculum. Norwood recognizes that children are multi-faceted and can shine in many different ways.
  • Reading & Writing

    Norwood is a school that celebrates reading and writing. Teachers foster a love of reading by exposing children to a wide range of genres. In addition to a program rich in both literature and nonfiction, our primary grades heavily emphasize phonics instruction using the Orton-Gillingham approach. Students at every grade level write narrative, persuasive, and informational texts—from our youngest students who write class books in collaboration with their teachers to our upper grades students who compose multi-paragraph essays and stories, among other forms of writing. Reading and writing are part of each student's daily experience, with skills clearly defined and connected from grade to grade. See also: Reading & Language Arts.
  • Math

    The Norwood math program creates mathematical thinkers who have deep conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and confidence in applied problem solving. The program, at every grade level, is child-centered, engaging, and rigorous. Students develop a mastery of computational math and apply their understanding by working through and solving open-ended problems. In grades PK-5, the program utilizes Bridges in Mathematics as the primary curriculum resource. In grades 6-8, the program utilizes the Glencoe Math program. Math at the elementary level is taught in homerooms with two teachers in the classroom, maintaining a low student-to-teacher ratio and allowing differentiation in daily instruction. Starting in sixth grade, students pursue either an algebra track or an accelerated algebra track that culminates in an eighth-grade geometry course. At the middle-school level, there are math clubs and competitive teams for those wishing to expand their math experiences at Norwood. At all grade levels, positive mathematical practices and attitudes are fostered; these include approaching math with a growth mindset, persevering in problem solving, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing arguments and critiquing those of others, and modeling with mathematics. 
  • K-8 Lab Science

    We believe that science is best taught by “doing” science. Beginning in kindergarten, students participate in a lab-based science program targeted to students’ growth in both methodology and information. Students develop a strong foundation in scientific literacy and move on to high school science with confidence and the ability to question and analyze.
  • Music & Art Education

    Norwood has been committed to music and art education, exposure, and exploration since its founding in 1952. Researchers have demonstrated a strong relationship between individuals who participate in school arts experiences and higher academic success. We find that music and art help students think differently and builds skills that today’s students will need to successfully navigate the complexities and nuance of our 21st-century world.
  • Physical Education & Athletics

    Physical education is an important part of the PK-8 curriculum with students taking P.E. at a minimum three and up to five times a week in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Beginning in Middle School, students are able to participate in interscholastic athletics or our signature outdoor education program, Summit, which takes students kayaking and rafting on the Potomac River, as well as climbing the cliffs at Carderock. Norwood has a no-cut policy: anyone who wants to be on a team is on a team. Students have access to a number of exceptional playing fields and three gymnasiums – a single gym and a double gym.
  • Student Support Services

    Norwood recognizes the importance of basic study skills to success and enjoyment in all areas of learning. Study and organizational skills are taught in developmentally appropriate ways beginning in kindergarten. Norwood's Student Support Services department includes a counselor and learning specialist on staff in both divisions. In addition, our Life Skills program is focused on building positive self-image, learning to empathize with the situations of others, and developing good decision-making skills.

Sprawling 40-Acre Campus & Marriott Early Childhood Building

List of 2 items.

  • Sprawling 40-Acre Campus

    With a beautiful 40-acre campus and a liberal arts program, Norwood provides its students with the room they need to grow in mind, body, and character, during a time in life when they are learning about their own strengths, weaknesses, interests, and passions. Norwood teachers are focused on providing the best PK-8 experience, while setting each child on their unique path to success.
    The best way to experience Norwood School is to visit the campus, take a tour, and talk with teachers and students. We encourage you to call our Admission Office at 301-841-2130 to schedule a visit. In the meantime, please enjoy the following video tour, led by one of our graduates, to get an idea of our extensive campus offerings and facilities.

  • Marriott Early Childhood Building

    The Marriott Early Childhood Building is an incredible new 25,000 square feet of thoughtfully designed space to support flexible, collaborative, and innovative teaching and learning for students in grades PK-2. The new building offers the very best in child-centered education and is Norwood’s commitment to provide innovative, dynamic, child-centered education at the very highest level and without compromises.
    To learn more about the new Marriott Early Childhood Building and/or to schedule a tour, please contact Alex Ragone, Director of Admission and Enrollment Management, or call 301-841-2130.
"Norwood is a supportive, engaging, and caring school environment that helps children develop into compassionate, creative, and independent people."  – Parent Survey

Please feel free to contact the office at any time to ask a question or arrange a visit.

Contact the Admission Office

Email: Phone: 301-841-2130

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.