Norwood School (Montgomery County, Maryland)

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Norwood School
Norwood School Bethesda Maryland.JPG
Norwood School
8821 River Rd., Bethesda, Maryland 20817
Coordinates 39°0′5″N 77°10′39″W / 39.00139°N 77.17750°W / 39.00139; -77.17750Coordinates: 39°0′5″N 77°10′39″W / 39.00139°N 77.17750°W / 39.00139; -77.17750
Type Independent, Co-Educational
Motto How you lead your life matters.
Religious affiliation(s) Nonsectarian
Established 1952 [1]
Founder Frances Marsh
Head of school Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D
Faculty 104 [2]
Grades K-8
Enrollment 440 [2]
Student to teacher ratio 6:1 [2]
Campus 38 acres (150,000 m2) [2]
Color(s) Blue and White
Mascot Blue Hawk
Accreditation Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS)

Norwood School is an independent co-educational day school in Bethesda, Maryland for students in kindergarten through eighth grade from 49 zip codes in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Norwood was founded in 1952. The current head of school is Matthew A. Gould.

The school is located within the Potomac census-designated place, and it has a "Bethesda, Maryland" mailing address.[3][4][5]


A child-centered, project-based curriculum is delivered by exceptional faculty in two divisions: Lower school (grades K-4) and Middle school (grades 5-8). Students gain deep knowledge and valuable skills by exploring real-world questions, problems, and challenges. Child-centered instruction means using the child as the starting point for lesson plans and for developing curriculum. Head of School Matthew Gould says, “Within that is this notion of whole-child education, which means that we’re not just looking at children to fill up with academic information. We see children as whole human beings who have academic needs, social-emotional needs, physical needs, as well as the need for the development of character.”

In addition to core academic subjects, students take world languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, and Latin), art, music, drama, physical education, life skills, library and technology. Students in every grade level participate in at least one stage performance, including an annual fall play and spring musical for seventh and eighth graders.

Character education[edit]

Character education and service learning are integral parts of life at Norwood and have been so since the school’s founding in 1952. Frances Marsh started Norwood on the very idea that a school should stand for and teach a core set of values. She felt strongly that a school has a responsibility to help students “gain an intelligent awareness of the world around them; a sense of their own worth; and a recognition of the obligation to share that worth with society and the community in which they live.” Norwood has a “Value of the Month” curriculum and begins every day with a lesson about character. The school’s motto is “How you lead your life matters.” Service learning is integral to the Norwood experience at all grade levels.


Athletics are an important part of Norwood’s physical education program. Students in grades K-6 take P.E. four times a week; fifth and sixth graders have the option to participate in interscholastic athletics in addition to their P.E. class. Seventh and eighth graders fulfill their physical education requirements by participating on an athletic team, in Norwood’s signature outdoor education program called Summit, or through other P.E. offerings such as strength and conditioning. Sports offerings include cross country, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and track and field.

Campus and facilities[edit]

Norwood's 38-acre campus is located in Bethesda, Maryland at the corner of River Road and Bradley Boulevard, less than a mile from the Capital Beltway. The property features two athletic fields for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey, a baseball field, softball field, a smaller soccer field for the youngest students, outdoor education ropes course, archaeological dig site, and a learning garden and pond. Buildings include:

  • Steuart Building – lower school classrooms, tutoring rooms, math and reading classrooms, Development Office, Communications Office, Admission Office, Lower School Office.
  • Amanda Murray Arts Center – two lower school art studios, music room and performance stage, piano and violin practice rooms, and office of learning specialist.
  • Ewing Building – 20,000-volume Carr Lower School Library, lower school classrooms, science labs, computer lab, math and reading rooms, head of school’s office.
  • Marsh Building – lower school classrooms, math and reading classrooms, multi-purpose gymnasium, Health Office.
  • Middle School Building – middle school classrooms, 10,000-volume Middle School Library, two art studios, band room, chorus room, world language classroom, Middle School Office, kitchen, cafeteria, network closet, multimedia center, two science labs.
  • Rales Athletic Center – double gymnasium, multi-purpose athletic classroom, athletic offices, locker rooms.


Norwood was founded as an Episcopal parish day school. In early 1952, in response to requests from parishioners, the rector of St. John’s Church, Norwood Parish, asked Frances Marsh, the director of the church’s Sunday School, to start a parish primary school.[citation needed] The Vestry Resolution founding the parish school indicated that preference would be given to families from the Norwood Parish and then, as space was available, opportunity would be given to other church families in the community. That fall, the Norwood Parish School opened in the basement of St. John's Church with four teachers and 40 children in grades K-2. Third grade was added the following year. As a church school, it held religious services led by the rector and operated under St John’s Vestry. The school prospered under Frances Marsh, though the small amount of space at St. John's limited both the possibilities for more school activities and the number of children who could attend. This led to the establishment of Norwood Inc., a non-profit corporation founded by Marsh and parents with the intention of finding a larger building.[citation needed]

Unhappy with this effort to relocate the school[citation needed], the church vestry dismissed Frances Marsh as director of Norwood Parish School in March 1970. The families at the parish school helped Marsh establish the new Norwood School in temporary quarters for two years before its move to the current location on River Road in Bethesda in January 1972. Norwood has operated continuously since then as a non-profit, independent educational institution without religious affiliation.

Norwood moved to its current hilltop location in early January 1972. The Steuart Building, named in honor of Norwood grandparent Esther T. Steuart[citation needed], first opened to students in January 1972. The following year, the Board of Trustees decided to expand the School through the sixth grade.[citation needed] A capital fund drive was launched for the purpose of erecting a new building to accommodate the School’s upper three grades, a science laboratory, administrative offices, and a multi-purpose gymnasium. The fund drive was a success and the new building was finished in 1975. It was named after Frances Marsh.

In August 1995 the School acquired the adjacent 16.7-acre (68,000 m2) estate which provided ample room for expansion. Subsequently, after two years of deliberation informed by Board committee work, faculty/staff planning, and parent meetings and surveys, the Board of Trustees made the decision in May 1996 to expand the School to include grades seven and eight. The first seventh grade class opened in September 1998, followed by the first eighth grade in September 1999. That same month, the school opened its new middle school and athletic buildings, which provided classroom space for fifth through eighth grades, a library, two science laboratories, choral and instrumental music rooms, two light-filled art rooms, lunch facilities, two basketball courts, a training room, locker rooms, and athletic offices.

Since its founding in 1952, Norwood has had five heads of school:

  • Frances Brandis Marsh, 1952-1977
  • Thomas C. Hudnut, 1977-1982
  • Miriam Fulton Block, 1982-1983 (Interim Head)
  • Richard T. Ewing, Jr., 1983-2014
  • Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D., 2014–present


  1. ^ School website: History "School Website: History" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d "School Website: About Us". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  3. ^ "2010 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP (INDEX): Potomac CDP, MD" (1) (Archived 2015-06-19 at WebCite). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on June 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "2010 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP (INDEX): Potomac CDP, MD" (0) (Archived 2015-06-19 at WebCite). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on June 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "Home." Norwood School. Retrieved on June 19, 2015. "8821 River Road :: Bethesda, MD 20817"