Welcome To MPA, Samantha Sanchez!

Samantha Sanchez

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging

From what school/organization are you coming?
I worked at a very small community college in New Jersey and am completing my Master’s degree at NYU.

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and led efforts in higher education reform to increase access and the holistic achievement of minoritized students, which began my professional career in both DEIB and education. After working in K-12 with neurodiverse students and for a private corporation leading community empowerment and equity efforts in urban planning, I decided to pursue my Master’s degree in Sociology of Education at NYU–both so I could fulfill a lifelong dream of living in New York City and to further my research pursuits.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
My education philosophy and research foci are centered in the holistic development of students, so it was beautiful to see so many people dedicated to developing the whole student and practicing education models that center student needs. I also found myself in a (virtual) space with people I felt incredibly comfortable with and could sense how fundamental community formation is at MPA.

What’s your big dream?
I have dreams of buying a farm, own lots of animals (we have five dogs now!), and growing a majority of the fruits and vegetables we consume.

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
My family is incredibly passionate about just that–family! We seize every opportunity to be together and spend quality time with one another. These days, that often looks like a group FaceTime where all you can see is all of our foreheads (I have no idea why we all FaceTime that way) and gatherings at our family home. The last big family outing we had was some months ago at Disneyland for my nephew’s first birthday!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I am originally from California! The rest of my family currently lives in Southern California and my fiancée is originally from the Bay (Northern California), but she and her family moved to Minneapolis some time ago…which is what initially brought me here!

Calling All Host Families

Dear MPA Community,

Do you have a desire to expand your family’s perspective of the world? A room to spare? Space in your heart for another family member? MPA is seeking host families for three international students for the fall of 2022.

MPA and schools like MPA that have international student programs have struggled to find families willing to host since the beginning of the pandemic. We have three outstanding Upper School students (one male, two female) without homes yet and we are in great need of your help.

All have studied in the United States previously, for a year or more. Among them you will find a student who is an award-winning mathematician and pianist who plays in subway stations and nursing homes, a student who is passionate about oil painting and chemistry, and another who enjoys ceramics and track and field. All three are disappointed in the education systems they have been in and are looking for MPA’s approach to rigor with purpose and joy. All three are fluent in English, strong students, and have a desire to be part of a family here.

How Can You Help?

  1. Volunteer to host. Find many more details below. Note that a $9,000 stipend is provided for room and board.
  2. Share this opportunity on social media. Find a Facebook post here and a LinkedIn post here. Share widely and often!
  3. Email your network, neighborhood, and/or colleagues. Reach out to communications@moundsparkacademy.org and we will send you an email that is ready to forward.
  4. Put a lawn sign in your yard. Do you live on a well-traveled street in the Twin Cities? If so, email communications@moundsparkacademy.org and we will deliver a host family recruitment lawn sign to your home.

As you and your family consider hosting, please review the MPA Host Family Recruitment Flyer and Host Family Application.


  • A 10-month stipend of $9,000 will be directly deposited in equal installments of $900/month on the first of each month for the previous month, September through June.
  • An early installment of $500 will be deposited on August 1 in preparation for your student’s arrival; the remaining $400 will be deposited on September 1.


  • Host families are responsible for providing transportation to and from school and school-related activities.
  • Host families will work with their student in scheduling rides for social events.


  • All international students will receive the MPA school lunch. Host families and students do not need to pack lunches.
  • Host families are responsible for providing two meals on all weekdays and three meals on all weekend days.

We hope you’ll consider opening your hearts and homes to one of our international students! Give it some thought, and if interested, please reach out to me for additional information and/or to begin the process of becoming a host family. I would love to have a conversation with you!

Thank you so much for considering,

Cory Becker-Kim
International Student Program Coordinator
Advanced Language and Culture Teacher

Welcome To MPA, Hannah Smith!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Assistant Director of Admission, Lower School

From what school/organization are you coming?
I worked at Como Friends prior to being a full-time stay at home parent.

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. After graduating I worked in various fields from management to patient care at children’s hospitals. I was able to find my true passion for non-profit work while working at Como Friends, the fundraising arm for Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. It was at Como Friends that I realized my desire to work with the good intentions of the human spirit while developing meaningful relationships.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
MPA emits a sense of hope for the future of our world while expecting respect and true communication in ways that are difficult to come upon, let alone practice in our current world. These feelings and expectations were present during every aspect of the interview experience, with every panel member, and each thought-out question and conversation. The entire process was thoughtful which is a genuine reflection of MPA and their approach to learning. Read More

Evan Fraser Wins Class A Singles State Championship

Evan FraserCongratulations to Evan Fraser, the 2022 Class A Singles State Champion in Boys Tennis! Evan is from Nova Classical Academy and a member of the Panthers Co-op.

TwinCities.com reports, “Fraser’s was the third individual Class A title and second in three years (for MPA). Parker Law won the 2019 crown, and Bryan Kelly was the 2007 champ.” Click here to read the full article. Go Panthers!

Meet Dr. Ann Jurewicz

Ann JurewiczPlease help us welcome Dr. Ann Jurewicz, interim Lower School director, to MPA!

From what school/organization are you coming?
American School of Barcelona

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I’ve had the joy of serving in senior leadership for the past 10 years both overseas and at the German Immersion School in Saint Paul. I love children of all ages and feel honored every day that parents entrust them to our care. My learning background is in social studies and literature, and I’ve been a technology integrationist and S.E.E.D. diversity trainer. I received my Educational Doctorate from Bethel University.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
The very first interview question Bill Hudson asked me was “How are you?” From that moment, I knew MPA was a deeply caring community as evidenced by its motto, “Dream Big. Do Right.” Throughout the process, MPA’s mission and values were at the heart of our conversation. I am thrilled to be joining such a transformative school and look forward to learning much from the families, children, and staff.

What’s your big dream?
To complete a set of art works and hold an exhibition where I invite all my friends.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about global mindedness, travel, culture, and long conversations with great people over great meals (without cell phones!). I love nature and am an avid scuba diver. I hope to never stop loving, learning, and laughing with others.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I took a year off to travel around the world with my sister and we got to see my favorite animal—a giraffe!

Welcome To MPA, Hannah Halvorson!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Year Round PreK Teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
St. Paul City School

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I went to The College Conservatory of Music where I received a BFA in Dramatic Performance. I lived in NYC where I was an arts and literacy teacher, and dabbled in the improvisation arts at Upright Citizens Brigade. When I moved back to the Twin Cities I started working right away in early childhood education and have been doing that for the past five years! I’m also in the pursuit of my Master’s of Early Childhood of Education and Development at the American College of Education.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
I loved the idea of creating independent students in the classroom and helping them strengthen their voice. I’m very excited to be apart of the MPA community!

What’s your big dream?
To be the best PreK teacher I can be!

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
I am a happy cat mom to my kitty named Kiki! I’m also an actor in the Twin Cities theater scene and have also worked as a clown. I’m passionate about both visual and the performative arts!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I love to build my own puppets and write my own children’s music on the ukulele! 🙂

MPA’s Enduring Spirit


from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Over the long weekend, my family undertook the colossal challenge of cleaning out the storage room in the basement. While I wouldn’t classify myself as a hoarder, I must admit that I have a tendency to save a lot of seemingly useless things. A quick search on Google led me to the following definition: “people with a hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save items.” To be sure, there was a fair share of junk but there were also some treasures that made me feel vindicated.

In one bin, I found a stack of birthday greetings from fourth graders in Ms. Stacy’s class from 2014 in which the students shared what they liked about MPA. What made this find special was that they were written by this year’s graduating class. Here are a few examples:

  • “What I like most about MPA is the great lunch variety. I also like that next year when I am in fifth grade I get to stop by at the official salad bar! (I’m kidding but it would be nice.) Anyway, I like how I can make choices on which classes I take when I am older, how we have drama and all those other classes that most people don’t get to take, and once again, a great lunch.”
  • “My parents send me to this school because it’s a really good school and you make a lot of nice friends and this was the school for me.”
  • “I like MPA because I get to have learning opportunities that other schools don’t have like the Book Fair.”
  • “I like MPA because all my great friends are here and the fun teachers. MPA is a great school because everyone is open minded and have great personality (especially the teachers).”
  • “One of the reasons Mounds Park is important to me is that the teachers are really nice.”
  • “I think MPA is a great school because of all the kids. I just love how they all include each other and play with each other and are really friendly.”
  • “I like the risks the school takes to make me happy. I think the new things help us learn, and if not, then they can just stop doing it. I also like the more open-ended responsibilities that the school lets me take control of on my own.”
  • “There are a lot of different things that Mounds Park Academy has in store, from great and positive students to awesome fun loving teachers who know how to teach so that the lessons can be fun. MPA also has great class sizes so it is easier to get one on one attention.”

Reading their letters caused me to pause and consider all that has happened over the course of their career at MPA. Our world, our society, and our school community has experienced significant change in many ways since they were in fourth grade. It was the philosopher Heraclitus who said that the only constant in life is change. Without change, there is stagnation, a lack of growth, and no progress. While some people prefer the predictability of the status quo, such stagnation limits the full potential of an individual or institution.

While we’ve had our share of challenges and change this year, what has stayed constant is the spirit of MPA as reflected in the letters of the seniors as fourth graders. The mission and values of MPA have provided the certainty and the inspiration for growth. As I look back over this school year, I delight in the growth of our students, in their resiliency, in their excitement for learning, in their accomplishments, and in their joyfulness.

As the school year draws to a close, I want to thank you for entrusting your children to MPA. I also want to thank you for investing your expertise, volunteering your time, and contributing your financial resources to the school. I am continually in awe of the generosity of the MPA community and grateful for the positive relationship and partnership between parents/guardians and the school. It is hard to let go of our seniors and other students and families who are moving on. However, I am grateful for their impact and contributions to our school community.

As all of us part ways for a few months, I extend my warm wishes for a restful and relaxing summer. I hope you will enjoy time with family and loved ones and look forward to coming together again in August.

Lower School Division News June 2, 2022

from Renee Wright, Lower School Director

Get Set For the Final Week of School!

Lower School Vocabulary Bee: June 6
Monday, June 6 is the long-awaited Vocabulary Bee in Lower School. Students have learned new vocabulary words throughout the year through our “Word of the Week” program. Developing a broader vocabulary is essential to learning to read, write, and communicate. The greater number of words children know, the more they can interpret ideas from others and express their own ideas verbally or in writing. Learning new vocabulary also builds reading comprehension, which is essential to learning to read more complex materials.

Twenty students qualified to be in the vocabulary bee this year. They will participate in the bee on June 6 and share their vocabulary knowledge. Lower School students and the participants families and friends are invited to watch the bee unfold.

2022 Moving Up Ceremony: June 7
Students in grade 4 and grade 8 will be honored at the Moving Up Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7 at 1:30 PM in the Nicholson Center. Families and friends are invited to this celebration as students transition to Middle and Upper School! Moving up to a new division is a milestone and reason to celebrate!

Last Day of Classes: June 8
It is hard to believe that the end of the school year has arrived. Wednesday, June 8 will be a festive day starting with the Yearbook Assembly at 8:15 AM in the Nicholson Center. After the assembly students will gather in the Lower School for yearbook signing and a final good-bye for the school year. Kindergarten Graduation will take place in the Kindergarten classrooms following the Yearbook assembly.

Things to Note:

  1. Dismissal is at 10:30 AM
  2. No PM Panther Club Available
  3. No bus service available for pick-up

Calendar of Events

June 4: MPA Graduation at 6 PM
June 6: Vocabulary Bee at 8:30 AM
June 7: Grade 3 Drama Production @ 8:30 AM and 9 AM
June 7: Moving Up Ceremony at 1:30 PM in the Nicholson Center
June 8: Last Day—Yearbook assembly at 8:15 AM in the Nicholson Center
Kindergarten Graduation following the assembly (Classrooms)
Dismissal at 10:30 AM Read More

Middle School Division News June 2, 2022

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School Director

This issue of Middle School News & Notes is a “need-to-know” look at the last few days of school! Grab your planners, family calendars, and get to looking forward to summer!

Reports from Eagle Bluff are that all is well and the kids are having a great time! Your big kids will likely have showered less than you’d hoped, and they’ll return with plenty of clean clothes to your dismay (it always amazes parents that the stack of undies and socks that you sent, are still clean as a whistle–LOL)! They’ll also be positively exhausted, have a hundred stories to tell that will trickle out over the weekend. They’ll have tales of friendships, fusses, and newfound confidence in themselves, their peers, and the world around them. While it’s true that this class has been unable to share in many experiences over the last two years, I have no doubt that this adventure for them has been a good one – no phones, new experiences, and a taste of independence!

We’ll see you at the end of the day tomorrow. While I know some of you may have to work (and that’s OK!), if you can be here at the end of the day (2:45-3 PM) to pick them up, that would be best. They’ll be tired, in need of a bath, a big dinner, and some rest in their own comfy bed. You’re welcome to come hang in the Middle School hallways to await their awesome return…I do always love standing in the hallway and watching them all re-enter the school world.

PS: The cell phone/internet connection at Eagle Bluff is notoriously poor. We will post pictures into a Flickr page/album as soon as we all return and have had a moment to catch our breath! If you need anything or are worried, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Read More

Upper School Division News June 2, 2022

from Mark Segal, Upper School Director

One of the most challenging things an educator does is say goodbye to their students at the end of the school year. They spend the year building relationships based on trust and shared experiences only to have them come to an end early each June. There are some educators who believe that they have become experts at striking the right balance between attachment and detachment. Meaning that when the time comes for them to say goodbye they can do it with relative ease. I am unable to do that, especially with those students who are on the cusp of graduation. I have found that toward the end of each May, when stress, fatigue, and emotion is running high, I focus on the positive interactions and experiences with students. Although this practice eases the inevitable, I still get sad thinking about not having those students as part of the day-to-day community.

Over the past several years the Class of 2022 has spent more time with each other than anyone else in their lives, and next year they will be spread across North America attending new schools, meeting new people, and building new relationships. This will be a significant adjustment for all of us. Gemma Cheney, a senior clinical psychologist and a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, says that “students who are securely attached and have grown up with caring teachers in their lives, turn up in the classroom and school building ready to engage and learn.” I have been fortunate to see this with six graduating classes, and believe whole-heartedly that this is the case at MPA.

I invite you to attend graduation this Saturday evening to celebrate the Class of 2022. As educators, we often spend more time with our students than our own children, so we grow to love and care about each one of them. This class of fifty-one young adults have brought laughter, tears, chaos, and joy to our community. I will continue to reminisce about the time and experiences we shared. To me, they will always be remembered as members of this senior class, and I am excited for their futures and to see who they will become.

I look forward to seeing you on campus soon. Read More