Head of School Matthew A. Gould announced on December 7, 2018, that current interim head of lower school, Mike Risen, has been named Norwood's next head of lower school.

Mike has been serving as Norwood's interim head of lower school since August—in addition to continuing his outstanding work as director of curriculum and instruction, a position he has held for the past five years. His transition to the Lower School Office was seamless and, in many ways, it felt like he had always been there. Mike’s love for and natural rapport with children, his deep expertise in curriculum development and practice, his keen ability to identify best-fit professional development programs, and his unwavering commitment to child-centered teaching make him the ideal person for the position.
Throughout his career, Mike has always embraced the elementary years as an incredible opportunity to develop important foundational skills, to instill confidence and self-esteem, and to nurture a genuine love for learning. In fact, in his role as director of curriculum and instruction, Mike’s work has supported many important facets of the lower school program and schedule. This includes differentiated instruction, co-teaching in grades PK-2, Responsive Classroom, the newly aligned and connected social studies curriculum, an intensive review of our math program, and the introduction of the new Bridges math curriculum in grades K-5. Mike also played a leadership role in recent report card revisions in the Lower School, which provides a more comprehensive assessment of a student’s progress and performance. Additionally, Mike serves on the Administrative Team, the Principals Team, and is a member of the Diversity Leadership Council.
Before coming to Norwood, Mike was an English teacher at two outstanding independent schools: Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. In addition, for five years, Mike served as an administrator, three of those as school director, at a public charter school in Nashville. He holds a B.A. in English and philosophy from the College of William and Mary, and a M.Ed. in human development and counseling from Vanderbilt University.
“The Lower School feels like home to me,” shared Mike. “Not just because I have two daughters who are lower school students, but also because I am naturally drawn to the unbridled enthusiasm, creativity, and energy that abounds in the Lower School. What an honor and a privilege it is to dedicate my day to serving such a wonderful group of young learners—and to working with an exceptionally talented and skilled faculty.”
Norwood’s lower school community will benefit tremendously from Mike’s child-centered educational philosophy; his outstanding work ethic and standards; his collaborative, positive leadership style; his energy and thoughtfulness; and his unmatched enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Most important of all, Mike is committed to providing every child with an exceptional learning experience that is joyful, inspiring, and challenging.
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.