lower schools students working together in classby Jeremy Drucker ’97

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the time our thoughts are often directed to gratitude. In addition to those things for which I have always been grateful—friends and family and what I consider to be the miraculous comforts of modern living—I find increasingly a deep sense of thanks for the education I received at Mounds Park Academy.

When I attended MPA the motto was “Mounds Park doesn’t teach kids what to think we teach them how.” Today the motto is “Dream Big. Do Right.” In both of those mottos I find core values that have infused this school since I was a student in the early 1990’s. I arrived at MPA in sixth grade a spirited, albeit undisciplined and unruly, student with little experience in a structured academic setting. Through the years, MPA provided the structure and support for me to develop not just the skills and work ethic I needed to succeed, but also the less easily measured qualities of curiosity, adaptability, and self-awareness.

Whether it was studying American history with Ms. Conway, memorizing the first 18 lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in old English for Mr. Meacock, or reflecting on the result of a close basketball game on a long, late night bus ride home, MPA provided an array of experiences, “teachable moments,” and excellent guidance that prepared me for whatever life threw at me.

Because it wasn’t just that I learned some dry facts about, say, the Great Depression. Or that I memorized some funny sounding words that vaguely seemed like the language we all speak today. It was that an entire set of feelings and understandings were communicated. So that I felt (at least in approximation) what it was like to experience those kinds of hard times in the 1930’s, to not have work, not being able to provide for your family, or to not have electricity. And with memorizing old English, it wasn’t just the rote memorization that was valuable, but a deeper understanding about how language flexes and evolves through time and exposure to other languages and circumstances, and how what we believe today to be absolute and stable may in fact be malleable and ever-changing.

Since my time at MPA I have followed many career paths: telemarketing, the New York City restaurant industry, training to be an English Literature professor, political campaigning, working for elected officials, appointments as a senior health care official in state government, and now as an independent public affairs consultant and small business owner. In each and every one of those opportunities the skills and qualities instilled by my time at Mounds Park Academy provided me the tools and capability to achieve and thrive. And for that I am deeply grateful.

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