December 11, 2023
As Mounds Park Academy continues its commitment to providing a holistic and supportive learning environment, the recent addition of Jeanne Doyle as our Lower School Counselor brings forth a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives. In a recent interview, we explore Jeanne’s initial impressions of MPA, her unique insights, and the innovative programs she has introduced to enhance the Lower School experience.
In your experience, how is MPA different from other organizations you’ve worked for?
“One amazing, unique quality I noticed about Mounds Park Academy right away is that Dr. Hudson truly knows every child’s name! He knows and cares about each student and each MPA family. His love for the children is so genuine. If I were a parent of a child at MPA, this depth of care from the top would be so reassuring to me. As a counselor, I appreciate that feeling seen, known, and loved can foster a strong sense of self-worth in children. Everyone wants to belong in their community. This level of care is echoed throughout the teaching faculty and the staff at MPA, and that is truly a hallmark of our school.
Another way that MPA stands out to me is that students, teachers, staff, and extended family members who identify as part of the LGBTQ community are wholeheartedly welcomed and accepted here. No one needs to hide or disguise their true self here. Dr. Hudson has said, ‘We debate ideas at MPA; we do not debate identities.’ Authenticity is embraced and celebrated at MPA!”
What new programs, activities, or initiatives have you implemented since you started at MPA?
“A new program I have implemented is teaching social-emotional lessons in each classroom in the Lower School. I am using parts of the Second Step curriculum, developed by the Committee for Children, an evidence-based, CASEL-approved program, and Be Good People, developed by the St. Croix River Education District. Teaching in the classrooms helps our students, and me get to know each other, and it serves as reinforcement of the social and emotional skills our Lower School educators are teaching every day, such as the importance of being respectful, how to manage strong emotions, and how to be a good friend. When the students know me, it is easier for them to come to me for help when they need it! I think this direct instruction of social/emotional skills is helpful to students and teachers alike. If students know we are taking class time to talk about how important it is to develop empathy for others and to be respectful of others, they understand that we value these qualities as much as we value hard work and tenacity.
Another program I have started with Michael Moran, and with the support of Lower School Director Jennifer Le Varge, is Lower School Pokémon Clubs! We have one for grades one and two and another club for grades three and four. Ms. Jennifer felt we should not ban these popular trading cards altogether, though they were causing some hard feelings among our young collectors. Instead, we want to manage when and where the students are looking at each other’s cards and recognize that the cards foster reading, imagining, and friendship! Mr. Moran is helping our students understand how to make fair trades and why trading fairly is important. We are having fun so far in Pokémon Club time!”
What’s the most important aspect of your role at MPA?
“I think the most important aspect of my role at Mounds Park Academy is the support of students, teachers, and parents. Mental health needs are still high four years after the pandemic caused a global shutdown. Being at MPA every day, being another caring adult in the lives of our students, a support for our teachers, and a sounding board for parents, is the essence of my role here.”
Have you had a favorite MPA experience here? If so, what was it?
“My favorite MPA experience so far was Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Seeing the joy on the faces of our students and visitors was priceless! And hearing the children sing to their loved ones filled up my heart.”
Jeanne Doyle serves as a transformative and dedicated advocate for the well-being and growth of every individual within the Lower School community. She contributes to MPA’s ongoing commitment to fostering a supportive and nurturing environment through her unique insights and initiatives. Jeanne’s influence remains pivotal in shaping a future where students thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.