History, Mission, and Vision

In 1906, Lucy Madeira founded her school with the belief that it is our duty and privilege to help young women to understand their changing world and to have the confidence to live lives of their own making, their own passions, their own dreams.

Our Mission

Launching women who change the world.

Our Vision

Leading innovation in girls’ education.

Our Educational Philosophy

At Madeira, we believe:

Learning is active and experiential, joyful and personal. Guided by caring, expert, demanding teachers who model the School’s values, students learn in various settings, from classroom to playing field, to dormitory, to congressional office. Working toward one’s personal best deepens the habits of mind that lead to lifelong learning. Learning is its own reward.

Learning results from an intentionally designed, innovative, developmental, rigorous and girl-centered curriculum, which builds critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills. Each student has opportunity to study discrete disciplines as well as explore connections between and across disciplines and learning environments.

Learning’s purpose is not only for students to obtain the skills needed to thrive at college but also for students to understand themselves in relation to others, to be informed about their changing world, and to participate actively and confidently in life through leadership and service.

Our Strategic Goals

  • Establish Madeira as the 21st century leader in girls’ education
  • Bring the world to Madeira and Madeira to the world
  • Advance our inclusive culture that flourishes in diversity
  • Protect and enhance Madeira’s environment and facilities 
  • Ensure Madeira’s financial sustainability

Our Community Values

  • Awareness of self and others
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Integrity
  • Resilience


In 1906, Lucy Madeira Wing (1873-1960) founded a school “for the purpose of preparing girls for the leading women’s colleges.” In 1929, the school was incorporated as The Madeira School. Madeira relocated from Washington to the suburb of McLean, Virginia, in 1931.

Campus Past and Present

The original buildings of the Madeira campus were Main, the dining hall, Schoolhouse, East, West, North, and South dorms, The Land, the Annex (infirmary), and the two gatehouses at the entrance to the Oval. A donation of land in 1954 brought the School’s property to just over 376 acres. Later additions to campus include the Chapel/Auditorium, the indoor riding ring and Gaines Hall, the science building, a renovated and expanded dining hall, Hurd Sports Center, and Huffington Library, which was formerly the school gymnasium. Faculty housing has also been added in recent years.

The Co-Curriculum Program

Madeira’s Co-Curriculum dates back to 1966. It has always served as an extension of the academic program, as well as an extension of the boundaries of the Madeira experience. The program takes students into the local community for service and into Washington, D.C. for internships on Capitol Hill. The program is a mark of Madeira’s longstanding commitment to experiential and project-based learning.

Madeira celebrated its centennial in 2006. In 2019, Gretchen Warner was named the 10th Head of School, bringing to Madeira her passion for girls’ education, enthusiasm for community building, and a dedication to innovative education.