Middle School at Mounds Park Academy
MPA's Middle School for students in grades five through eight is a place where learning comes alive, where students are challenged and pushed to excel and succeed, and where it is cool to be smart, easy to shine, and okay to make mistakes. Every student needs a school they can call their own, a place where security and adventure thrive, and MPA middle school is that place.
Our Approach to Teaching and Learning
Middle School brings a gentle push, and students are expected to be increasingly responsible for their own academic journey. This is accomplished in small classes with phenomenal support from exceptional teachers. Students love being in the middle because it is here where they are encouraged to discover their passions and follow them through increasingly complex, interdisciplinary experiences. Able to take risks in a safe environment, scholars become ready to push their own limits.
Instruction in the Middle School is inquiry-based and learner-centered. Students are active in their learning, participating in ways that acknowledge their contribution to the learning process. Most importantly, it is a safe place, socially, emotionally, and physically, and students are joyful learners.
At MPA, we teach to the whole child. Students take a wide variety of classes from subject-matter experts, including world language, visual art, drama, choir, instrumental music, and physical education every year to round out their education. The curriculum is integrated between subjects when possible, so that learning is connected and reinforced.
Students venture away from our Saint Paul campus frequently in Middle School to apply, deepen, and expand their learning. Whether they are studying Karst geology in Lanesboro, investigating animal habitats in Sandstone, or local service and citizenship in their neighborhoods, students clearly see that what they are learning in the classroom has significance in our world. They are encouraged daily to think big about how their knowledge impacts our shared future. At MPA, this is considered the ultimate form of rigor.
The program is rooted in a deep understanding of the developmental needs (social, physical, emotional, and intellectual) that students bring to school. Adolescents vary significantly, and the faculty receive ongoing training in research-based best practices to meet their needs.
Innovation Term (iTerm, as we affectionately refer to it) is a signature Middle School program that offers students an intensive learning experience in a single class of their choice. One week. One class. Zero grades. Giant fun. This is inquiry-based, experiential learning that goes far beyond what can normally happen in the classroom. Students in small, mixed-grade classes go into the community, work with subject-matter experts, and ignite some serious passions along the way. Whether they stay close to home or travel up north or outside the country, iTerm is the most remembered and talked about week of a middle schooler's year.
Clubs in the middle school are unique in that the vast majority of them are student-created and student-led. Clubs range in interest from social action and service learning to reading, gaming, and creating, and everywhere in between. Middle School clubs are spurred by students' imaginations, and they only need to have a dream and an adult mentor. The rest is up to them!
The AnnMarie Thomas Makerspace (the only of its kind in the Twin Cities) allows students to use creativity and critical thinking to bring their dreams to life, limited only by their own capacity for innovation. Some of our signature projects that showcase the Makerspace include: the eighth grade Future Cities competition, the seventh grade NaNoWriMo tea-box diorama project, the sixth grade Zombie Apocalypse project, the fifth grade Inventor's Fair, and the iTerm woodworking course.
Middle school wouldn't be complete without our exclusive overnight events. Fifth through eighth graders embark on tailor-made overnight experiences that ignite curiosity, spark imagination, and kindle friendships. Fifth, sixth, and eighth-grade students spend three nights in the fall at outdoor learning centers in northern and southern MN, and our seventh graders cap two years of US History curriculum by traveling to Washington, D.C. in the spring.
Middle School Admission Process
The admission process is made up of a series of steps that will help us get to know students who are considering Mounds Park Academy for a private middle school education. We also encourage families to join us on campus for a variety of events throughout the year as that is the best way to learn about all of the wonderful opportunities Mounds Park Academy has to offer. We encourage prospective students to schedule a shadow visit, in which they will be paired with a grade-level peer and experience a day on campus.