Optimism In Education

from Bill Hudson, head of school

As the 2022-2023 school year draws to a close, we find ourselves in that liminal moment where memory and hope intersect. American folk artist, Grandma Moses, called this intersection a “strange thing.” Memory and hope are two perspectives that both exist and are available in the present moment. Memory allows us to look back to recall the events, experiences, and emotions in the past. Hope is directed toward the future with an enthusiastic anticipation of what is to come. While memory is grounded in the present and the past, hope reaches beyond the present and propels us toward the future.

Over the last nine months, we celebrated the loss of teeth; uniforms that fit so well in September that now rise above the ankle; students who stumbled and stammered in front of a crowd now speaking confidently; the screech of a violin bow that now sings beautifully; and seniors who recall the pain and trauma of adolescence in their senior speeches that have been transcended by a newfound sense of self and resiliency. I could go on and on.

Those of us who work in schools forever live in a liminal moment that not only speaks of the growth and development of our students but also of ourselves. Middle School English teacher Maddy Wolfe captures this so beautifully in an article recently published by the National Association of Independent Schools on their Independent Ideas blog. She writes, “When adults share which teachers impacted their lives, we don’t stop and think about it the other way around, too. Students leave marks on teachers’ lives, as well. In many ways, this student embodied the reason why I became an educator: to watch a student’s growth over the course of nine months, when the only thing you can do is marvel at what young adolescents are capable of.” Read More

Lower School Division News June 1, 2023

from Ann Jurewicz, Lower School director

Important Dates and Upcoming Events

  • June 2: Colianni’s Grade 3 and both Grade 4 drama performances
  • June 5: Grade 1 drama performances
  • June 3: MPA Commencement 2023
  • June 6: Grade 4 Moving Up Ceremony, 2 PM
  • June 7: Last Day of School—Early Dismissal, 10:15 AM

It was wonderful to see so many families at our Lower School Field Day yesterday enjoying the activities and embracing the heat! The students had a fabulous time and tremendous thanks go out to our parent volunteers along with the members of our PE department: Tim Sheehan, Sean Ryther, Jess Powell, Chris Hopkins, and Mike Scinto.

Drama Performances Are On! Break A Leg!
It was a joy to watch Mr. Klein’s grade 3 class perform in our black box theater on Wednesday for classmates, parents, siblings, and other family members. Performances continue on Friday for Ms. Ruane’s grade 3 and both grade 4 classes. Monday we will have grade 1 performances. A big thanks to Ms. Heather Mastel for all of her guidance in these theatrical endeavors! Read More

Middle School Division News June 1, 2023

from Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Important Dates And Upcoming Events

  • June 2: 5/6 Canoeing Adventure
    • 7/8 Valley Fair Performance and Fun Day
  • June 3: MPA Commencement 2023
  • June 5: Grade 8 Independent Research Showcase
  • June 6: Passion Project Showcase, 1 PM
    • Middle School Moving-Up Ceremony, 2 PM
  • June 7: Last Day of School
    • Early Dismissal 10:15 AM

As of your reading of this Panther Post, we have just 3 and a 1/3 days of school remaining! It’s been a JOY-FULL year with lots of growth, awesome adventure, and so much of which to be proud. When I asked Middle School teachers to share some of their highlights from this year, they shared… 

  • FUTURE CITIES, TEAM VAXA, wins Minnesota state competition and advances to nationals in WASHINGTON, DC!  
  • Shared time in DC with our MPA Alums! 
  • Beckett and Kalyx’s limbo competition, where they both were able to clear two feet, four inches!  
  • Sixth grade wrote amazing historical plays about civil war spies for next year’s class!  
  • Seventh graders loved writing poetry outside in the sunshine! 
  • Each class learned a lot about themselves and others on their class trips!  
  • Social Change Club and those passionate about Turkey/Syrian earthquake relief raised $1000 for their cause with the help of the sixth graders service project for Valentine’s Day!  
  • The seventh graders had a great enthusiasm for reading The Giver!  
  • Roller-skating was a blast and iTERM was epic!  
  • French 1 and French 1B had a lovely picnic with the fourth graders 
  • Seventh graders really took their CO2 dragsters to the next level of physics awesomeness!  
  • The most Middle School clubs, EVER, being run 100% by students!  
  • Fifth graders successfully navigated their first year of Middle School with joy and lots of heart! 

And finally, the Middle School team and I set as our goal for this year to BRING THE JOY! And we did it – we even spent one of our professional development days at Four Season Curling, where we learned to curl and had a fierce battle to win! We were intentional in our care for ourselves and for others, and I’m proud of our division and how we experienced this year together whole heartedly!  

Thank you for your love, your partnership, support and care! Let’s make next year our best yet!   Read More

Upper School Division News June 1, 2023

from Mark Segal, Upper School director

Looking Ahead

  • June 2: World Language Final Exams, During World Language Classes
    • MANDATORY Choir Rehearsal, 10-11 AM, Nicholson Center
    • Class of 2023 MANDATORY Graduation Rehearsal, 11 AM-12:30 PM, Nicholson Center
    •  Class of 2024 MANDATORY Honor Guard Rehearsal, 11:45 AM-12:30 PM, Nicholson Center
  • June 3: Commencement, 6:00 PM, Nicholson Center
  • June 5: English Final Exams, 8:45-10:15 AM, Locations TBD
  • June 5: Math Final Exams, 12-1 PM, Locations TBD
  • June 6: End of Quarter 4/Semester 2
  • June 6: Social Studies Final Exams, 8:45-10:15 AM, Locations TBD
  • June 6: Science Final Exams, 12-1 PM, Locations TBD
  • June 7: Last Day of School
  • June 7: Yearbook Assembly, 8:15 AM, Nicholson Center
  • June 7: Dismissal, 10:15 AM

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. It was refreshing to have the seniors back on campus yesterday as they hosted Service-Con and shared their senior service projects with the MPA community.

Over the past several years the Class of 2023 has spent more time with each other than anyone else in their lives, and next year they will be spread across North America and Europe 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 seven graduating classes, and believe whole-heartedly that this is the case at MPA. Read More

Parents Association News & Events June 1, 2023

All-School St. Paul Saints Game!
Sunday, July 30, 2:07 PM at CHS Field

Join us for a midsummer Saints game! Reconnect with school friends and enjoy America’s favorite pastime. You’ll see the St. Paul Saints vs. the Toledo Mud Hens at CHS Field. This is an all-school event. Tickets cost $16 for students and $17 for adults. Tickets can be picked up at Will Call before the game under the name “MPA Panthers.” We’ll be seated together in section 115.

Watch your email for this information from your grade reps. For more info, email Christine Larson at clarsonPA@moundsparkacademy.org or Molly Oliver at molly.oliver1@gmail.com.

Buy your tickets here:
Adults $17
Students $16

Dr. Hudson’s Summer Book Club
Thursday, August 3 at 6 PM
In the mood for some summer reading? Join fellow MPA book-lovers for a lively discussion of the magical book, The “House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune. “An enchanting story, masterfully told, “The House in the Cerulean Sea” is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.”

An MPA family has offered to host Book Club at their home on White Bear Lake, and the PA will be purchasing books for those who would like to take part. Please let us know if you plan on attending the book club and whether or not you would like a copy of the book provided to you through this Google form. We will arrange book pick-up and share the address via email once the books arrive. Questions, contact Staci at sbhehe42@icloud.com. Read More

Kao Kalia Yang Shares Her Story Of Hope

World-renowned author Kao Kalia Yang treated the junior class and Lower School students to readings from her books and shared words of wisdom during a visit on May 30. After two years of Zoom visits with the junior class, Yang was able to visit campus in person for an inspirational morning that expanded to include most of the Lower School.

The junior class read her memoir “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” this spring, which tells the story of the ramifications of the Vietnam War on the Hmong people and the Yang family’s journey to settle in Minnesota via a refugee camp in Thailand. While Yang writes beautifully of the challenge and triumphs in her immigrant experience, the chance to hear her read from the memoir deepened the experience and added dimension to the work. After Yang read, she took questions from the juniors and formed response packed with wisdom and poetry. The juniors eagerly shared their admiration with her as she signed their books. The intimate 75 minutes was a highlight for the year and a meaningful way to punctuate the American Studies course.

An author of four children’s picture books as well, Yang also met with the Lower School children in two separate sessions. She shared her autobiographical book, “From the Tops of the Trees” about her life as a Hmong refugee child, born in the Ban Vinai Camp in Thailand. The students were inspired by her story of hope and resilience. Fourth graders created thoughtful questions in advance to share with Ms. Yang. It was an amazing experience for the children.

The Bold Innovation Fund provided the support for this important opportunity.

Welcome To MPA, Ursula Hargens!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Upper School Ceramics Teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
I have been an artist and educator for over twenty years, teaching at colleges, universities, and community art centers. I also led an advanced ceramic certificate program that I co-founded with Northern Clay Center in 2014.

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I earned an MFA in ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and an MA in Art and Art Education from Columbia University Teachers College. I also spent a transformational year in Nova Scotia, studying with the renowned teacher Walter Ostrom. As a teaching artist, I divide my time between creating work for sales and commissions and teaching ceramics in a wide variety of settings. My artistic output is broad, and I make large-scale tile installations as well as wheel-thrown, functional pots for the kitchen.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
MPA is unique in its visible commitment to the arts. I am excited to be stepping into Ms. Buck’s clogs and inheriting such a strong and vibrant ceramics program. I also look forward to working alongside teachers who are deeply invested in building a positive community and focused on creating challenging and meaningful experiences for students.

What lasting impact do you plan to have on MPA?
I want to help students strengthen their understanding of materials, experiment and take risks, gain confidence in the process of making, and see projects through to completion. I feel this is an essential part of a well-balanced education and is increasingly important in a digital world. This kind of creative problem-solving will serve students regardless of where they end up in their careers. I am also interested in building connections with other content areas. For example, ceramics naturally ties into chemistry, art history, material science, and literature, and I look forward to exploring some of these links in the classroom.

What’s your big dream?
In every aspect of my life—whether teaching, making, or personal time—I want to bring value to the community, work in collaboration with others, learn something new, and enjoy the process.

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
My family and I like spending time in the outdoors, hiking, canoeing, and Nordic skiing. I also love gardening and am often watering and moving plants in my yard!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I have been a vegetarian for 36 years. My baked tofu was a hotly traded commodity at school lunchtime for both of my kids.

Welcome To MPA, Stephanie Kollm!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Library Media Specialist

From what school/organization are you coming?
South Washington County Schools

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I have an undergraduate degree in English, Spanish and Secondary Education from Xavier University, a Master of Arts in English Literature from Villanova University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I taught high school English for six years before working in higher education marketing. After spending some time at home with my children, for the past two years I have been busy learning the ins and outs of school libraries at an elementary school in Woodbury.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
The sense of community and genuine care for the well-being of students and faculty was clear from the moment I stepped on campus. There is a strong commitment to academic rigor while allowing students to pursue their passions. I am excited to work with students in preK-12th grade, too.

What lasting impact do you plan to have on MPA?
I plan on building upon the strong community of readers to help foster a love of literature throughout the school. My goal is to empower students to select books that advance their knowledge, expand their worlds and help them develop empathy for others.

I also will work with the MPA community to build the technology, research and creative thinking skills that students will need when they go pursue their big dreams.

What’s your big dream?
I think I’m about to be living it: Spending my days in a beautiful library, surrounded by great books and sharing that love of reading with others. I love to explore new technologies too, and MPA seems like the perfect place to do so.

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
My two girls and I love horseback riding. We’ve been taking lessons together for the past three years and are going to our first hunter/jumper shows this summer. Our family loves to explore parks and new places. Our favorite recent trip was a tour of six national parks out west. We are always planning our next adventure together. And, of course, I love to read.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I spend a lot of time at the dog park with my Goldendoodle Buster.

Welcome To MPA, Amy Gallick!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Lower School Music Teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
Hudson School District, Wisconsin

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I have been teaching elementary music (K-5th grades) for twenty-one years. For my undergraduate degree, I attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where I studied both vocal/instrumental music and French education. Later, I went on to receive my master’s degree in Music Education from the University of St. Thomas, with an emphasis in the Kodaly approach as well as certification in Orff-Schulwerk.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
The thing that stands out to me the most about MPA is the strong sense of community. When I first visited the school, everyone was so kind and welcoming. Having grown up just a few miles away in the White Bear Lake area, I was familiar with the school community, and being here truly feels like coming home. I also really appreciate the emphasis on fine arts as a core part of the curriculum, and as an essential part of a child’s whole education.

What lasting impact do you plan to have on MPA?
As a music teacher, I hope to not only instill the joy of music as a lifelong pursuit in my students, but also to inspire creativity, share ideas through collaboration with colleagues, and just generally share my positivity and love of learning with the community.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to teach music to children, and I already get to do that every day! Another dream is to have some of my writing published someday.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about so many things… writing, learning about other cultures/languages, cooking, playing the piano, and composing/arranging music when I have time. My family and I love to be outdoors, and we enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, and camping. As a parent of a child with disabilities, I have a passion for inclusion and celebrating individual differences. My dream is that we would all see the good in each other and how each person has something unique to contribute to our world.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I enjoy long distance running and have completed a half marathon.

Welcome To MPA, Ana Wermager!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Third-grade teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
Clara Barton Hawthorne Elementary in the Fargo Public School district

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I earned my bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Human Development and Family Science from Valley City State University and North Dakota State University in 2020. Most recently, I earned my master’s degree in Teaching and Leadership from the University of North Dakota in 2022. I am currently in my third year of teaching and have taught both third and fourth grade.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
Everyone has been so kind and welcoming; I felt comfortable very quickly! I am incredibly impressed by the learning opportunities MPA offers to students, and I am excited to explore how I can incorporate them into the classroom.

What lasting impact do you plan to have on MPA?
I hope to have a lasting impact on my students by building positive relationships with them and their families. I look forward to becoming involved in the greater school community!

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to continue to find joy in teaching, buy a home, adopt a puppy, and travel more!

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about photography, empowering others to find and use their unique skills and strengths, and being the lifelong learner I encourage my students to be. There is so much to explore, and I am constantly learning new things about the people and world around me!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I enjoy spending time at my family’s cabin. In the summer we like to go boating and in the winter we cross-country ski!