Upper School Division News January 25, 2024

from Mark Segal, Upper School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, January 26: US BIPOC Affinity Group Meeting, 11:20-12 PM, Room 150-151
  • Friday, January 26: PA Parent Trivia Night, 6-8 PM, Family Commons
  • Friday, January 26: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: MPA vs SPA Varsity Basketball at Target Center, 9 AM (girls), 11 AM (boys), tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Tuesday, January 30: Senior Performances, 8-9:15 AM, Nicholson Center
  • Wednesday, January 31: US ACT Prep Class, 5:30-8:30 PM, Room 181
  • Thursday, February 1: US Cabaret Concert, 7:30-8:30 PM, Family Commons
  • Friday, February 2: Re-Enrollment Agreements Sent
  • Friday, February 2: US BIPOC Affinity Group Meeting, 11:20 AM-12 PM, Room 150-151
  • Friday, February 2: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, February 3: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Sunday, February 4: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 3-4:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Wednesday, February 7-Friday, February 9: Grade 10 Deep Portage Trip
  • Friday, February 16: No Classes, Professional Development
  • Monday, February 19: No Classes, Presidents’ Day
  • Monday, February 19: US SAT Mini Prep Class, 5-8:30 PM, Room 181

Important Information

  1. If your student will be absent, late, or needs to be excused early from school, please reach out to the Upper School office via cwilliams@moundsparkacademy.org.
  2. The members of the Winter Show class are proud to present “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in the Black Box Theatre over the next two weekends. Dates and show times can be found above. Tickets are $8 for students and $12 for adults. Tickets can be purchased here. The show is recommended for ages 10 and up.
  3. Students’ quarter two and semester one grades will be available late in the day next Monday (January 29). Please reach out to the Upper School office if we can help you access this information.

Read More


Middle School Division News January 25, 2024

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, January 26: PA Parent Trivia Night, 6-8 PM, Family Commons
  • Friday, January 26: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: MS Gemstone Quiz Bowl Tournament, 8:30 AM-3 PM, Burnsville High School
  • Saturday, January 27: MPA vs SPA Varsity Basketball at Target Center, 9 AM (girls), 11 AM (boys), tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Wednesday, January 31: MS Grade 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group, 2:20-3 PM, Panther Center
  • Thursday, February 1: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 3:15-4:15 PM, Library
  • Friday, February 2: Re-Enrollment Agreements Sent
  • Friday, February 2: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, February 3: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Sunday, February 4: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 3-4:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Monday, February 5: MS Puss ‘N Boots Cast Party, 3:15-4:30 PM, Family Commons
  • Wednesday, February 7: MS Talent Show, 12:30-3 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Wednesday, February 7: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 6-7 PM, Library
  • Thursday, February 8: Middle School Snow Tubing, Badlands SnoPark, 2-5 PM
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: Professional Development Day, No Classes
  • Monday, February 19: Presidents’ Day, No Classes

New Semester, New Opportunity!
A new semester is something I always loved as a student … the chance to begin anew, be better, develop new skills, learn new things. I hope you’ll approach this semester, and this next part of our annual journey in the same way—optimistic, focused, and supportive! I tell Middle Schoolers that semester two is the start of their runway to their next grade and it’s time to fly more independently, more responsibly, and more maturely. How exciting to grow up!

Middle School Office
Review of applications for the Middle School Assistant position have begun. Ms. Meras and I continue to manage the divisional office tasks, duties, and day-to-day activities. If you need to report an absence, we request that you email MSOffice@moundsparkacademy.org. If it is urgent, please email either of us individually (pmeras@moundsparkacademy.org) and (jmilam@moundsparkacademy.org) and we will get it ASAP. As a reminder, the office phone number is 651-748-5565. Thanks for your support, kindness, and patience! We hope to introduce you to our next great “chaos coordinator” soon!

Lower and Middle School Conferences: Friday, February 9 and Thursday, February 15
Our conferences for Lower and Middle school will be held at the start of February. Scheduling for your conferences is ongoing now—please do not miss this opportunity to sign up! If you are not registered for conferences by this Friday, January 26, you will not be able to schedule! If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to the Middle School Office.

Valentine’s Day in Middle School
Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year—a time to tell those you love and appreciate that you do and who doesn’t love loads of pink and red? It can also be a challenging time in Middle School when our minds and brains tell us that others’ thoughts, opinions, and interactions with us are more important than just about anything. Fear of rejection, unrequited feelings, or being left out, are real and powerful, especially for (pre)adolescents. In Middle School we work hard to teach, practice, and reinforce that no one must like everybody nor be liked by all. This is a shifting landscape in the social-emotional journey, for sure. If you and your student decide to share valentines, treats, cards, or other trinkets, please help them to be mindful of others. It’s always good to share kindness and it’s also an important lesson to be sure that we’re not sharing at the expense of others.


Lower School Division News January 25, 2024

Kindergarten peace marchersfrom Jennifer Le Varge, Lower School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, January 26: PA Parent Trivia Night, 6-8 PM, Family Commons
  • Saturday, January 27: MPA vs SPA Varsity Basketball at Target Center, 9 AM (girls), 11 AM (boys), tickets >
  • Wednesday, January 31: LS CHAMP Assembly, 8:15-9 AM, Family Commons, wear CHAMP t-shirts
  • Thursday, February 1: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 3:15-4:15 PM, Library
  • Friday, February 2: Re-Enrollment Agreements Sent
  • Wednesday, February 7: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 6-7 PM, Library
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Friday, February 9: Thursday, February 15 Lower School Used Uniform Sale 8 AM-3 PM
  • Monday, February 12: PreK to Kindergarten Transition Parent Coffee, 8:15-9 AM
  • Wednesday, February 14: Lower School Valentine’s Day Party, 8:30 AM-2:20 PM Lansing Sports Center, Family Commons
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: Professional Development Day, No Classes
  • Monday, February 19: Presidents’ Day, No Classes
  • Tuesday, February 20: PA LS Quarterly Parent Coffee Meet-Up, 1:15-2:45 PM, Gallery

We’re almost at the end of the first month of 2024, and learning is in full swing! Our classes are chugging right along and teachers are looking forward to connecting with families soon at the upcoming conferences. Please read on for more updates …

CHAMP Assembly on Wednesday, January 31
Our next CHAMP assembly is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31. We will be focusing on the CHAMP attribute of compassionate. Please be sure to send your child to school this day wearing their CHAMP t-shirts!

Conferences Coming Up: February 9 and 15
Conferences for Lower and Middle School will be held at the start of February. As previously shared, families have between noon on Friday, January 19, and noon on Friday, January 26 to register for conferences. Once the system re-opens at noon on Monday, January 29, families can schedule up to two additional conferences for a total of five (5) conferences. The scheduling window will close completely at noon on Wednesday, January 31. Kindly note no additional conferences will be scheduled after January 31.

Lower School Winter Used Uniform Sale Coming Soon: February 9 through February 15
Our Used Uniform Sale is coming back this February in the Lower School Atrium. The sale will be available in the Atrium from 8 AM to 3 PM every day, Friday February 9 through Thursday, February 15. Don’t forget to stop by and shop for great deals on slightly used and new uniforms at great prices!

PreK to Kindergarten Transition: Parent Coffee on Monday, February 12
To support our PreK families, we welcome the parents of our youngest learners to meet the kindergarten teaching team, learn more about the MPA kindergarten program, and get any questions answered about the next step in the PreK children’s journey. Please join us on Monday, February 12 from 8:15-9:15 AM. Mrs. Roche, Ms. Petersen, and Ms. Jennifer Le Varge are excited to collaborate with you! Further communication will be shared soon with PreK families.
Read More


Humility and Wisdom

from Bill Hudson, head of school

Since 2015, I have invited parents each December to participate in the Net Promoter survey. The Net Promoter is a standard industry measure of customer experience. Respondents are asked to answer a fundamental question, using a 0-10 scale: How likely is it that you would recommend MPA to a friend or colleague? It was created by Frederick Reichheld, a top management consultant at Bain & Company, to predict customer loyalty and measure customer satisfaction. Although it is geared toward Fortune 500 companies and is not common in education, it has been a valuable tool for MPA.

Our school-wide score is 48 this year, a noticeable improvement over last year. Historically, MPA parents have given an average score of 58, including a high of 74 in 2020 and a low of 40 last year. Like many companies and institutions, MPA’s Net Promoter score took a hit after the pandemic, a reflection of the uncertainty as society grappled with the “new” normal.

Approximately 78% of MPA families participated in the survey this year (although the numbers are skewed a bit because families were invited to take it several times if they had students in multiple divisions.) According to the Net Promoter methodology, survey respondents are grouped into three categories: detractor, passive, or promoter, based on the simple question of how likely respondents would be to recommend the school to a friend or colleague.

The breakdown for MPA is as follows:

  • Detractors: Fifty-nine parents (representing 16%) gave a score between 0 and 6 and are considered detractors or “unhappy customers.”
  • Passives: Ninety-five parents, or 26%, are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers, giving the school a score of 7 or 8.
  • Promoters: Two hundred and eight parents, representing 57% of those participating in the survey, gave a score of 9 or 10 and are classified as “loyal enthusiasts.”

Read More


Parents Association News January 11, 2024

New! Parents Association Trivia Night
Friday, January 26, 6-8 PM
Join us for a joyful evening of dinner and socializing at MPA hosted by Trivia Mafia! Compete to be trivia champions! For parents and guardians of students in PreK-12, $5 per person (adult or child), dinner from Cossetta, childcare available for grades K-6. For more details and to register, click here.

Dr. Hudson’s Book Club
Monday, February 12, 6 PM
One more announcement for our parent readers! Dr. Hudson’s Book Club will be back on February 12, 6:00 PM in the MPA Library. We will be reading “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride. Childcare will be provided. Sign up here to get your copy of the book.

Parent Volunteers Needed for Lower School Valentine’s Day Party
Please contact msotoPA@moundsparkacademy.org if you want to help organize the festivities!


Upper School Division News January 11, 2024

from Mark Segal, Upper School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, January 12: US Class of 2028 Parent Coffee, 8-9 AM, PCR
  • Monday, January 15: Indexed Tuition Re-Application Deadline
  • Monday, January 15: No Classes, Martin Luther King Day
  • Wednesday, January 17: US ACT Prep Class, 5:30-8:30 PM, Room 181
  • Thursday, January 18: MS Grade 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group, 2:20-3 PM, Panther Center
  • Friday, January 19: MS/US End of Quarter 2
  • Friday, January 19: US BIPOC Affinity Group Meeting, 11:20 AM-12 PM, Room 150-151
  • Monday, January 22: No Classes, Professional Day
  • Wednesday, January 24: US ACT Prep Class, 5:30-8:30 PM, Room 181
  • Friday, January 26: US BIPOC Affinity Group Meeting, 11:20-12 PM, Room 150-151
  • Friday, January 26: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box
  • Saturday, January 27: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box
  • Tuesday, January 30: Senior Performances, 9-9:15 AM, Nicholson Center (in lieu of block 1 classes)
  • Wednesday, January 31: US ACT Prep Class, 5:30-8:30 PM, Room TBD
  • Friday, February 2: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box
  • Saturday, February 3: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box
  • Sunday, February 4: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 3-4:30 PM, Black Box
  • Wednesday, February 7-Friday, February 9: Grade 10 Deep Portage Trip

Important Information

  • If your student will be absent, late, or needs to be excused early from school, please reach out to the Upper School office via cwilliams@moundsparkacademy.org.
  • Class of 2028 parents are invited to attend a coffee for rising ninth-grade parents to learn more about the Upper School at MPA, ask questions, and share the excitement of this next important step in students’ educational journey. Please mark your calendar for Friday, January 12, 8-9 AM. No RSVP is required, and coffee, tea, and light refreshments will be provided at the gathering. We will meet in the Porter Conference Room (PCR) within the Head of School suite.
  • Student work for quarter two/semester one classes is due by the end of the day on Friday, January 19. On Tuesday, January 23, students will start attending their quarter three/semester two courses.

Read More


Middle School Division News January 11, 2024

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Mark your Calendars

  • Friday, January 12: US Class of 2028 Parent Coffee, 8-9 AM, PCR
  • Monday, January 15: Indexed Tuition Re-Application Deadline
  • Monday, January 15: No Classes, Martin Luther King Day
  • Thursday, January 18: MS Grade 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group, 2:20-3 PM, Panther Center
  • Friday, January 19: MS/US End of Quarter 2
  • Saturday, January 20: Minnesota State Future Cities Competition, Dakota County Technical College
  • Monday, January 22: No Classes, Professional Day
  • Thursday, January 25: MS Grade 5 Music Share, 2:20-3 PM, Recital Hall
  • Thursday, February 8: Middle School Snow Tubing, Badlands SnoPark (Wisconsin)
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: No Classes, Professional Development (Panther Care Closed)
  • Monday, February 19: No Classes, Presidents’ Day

HAPPY 2024! I hope this finds you having had a wonderful winter break with lots of rest, fun, and time with those you love the most! I also hope that 2024 presents you with a fresh start, a renewed energy, and a centeredness that can feel so elusive after the hurried holiday season. While it can be tempting to set lofty goals toward self-improvement and milestone attainment, I encourage you to be kind to yourself and search instead for peace, contentment, comfort, and fun! Catherine Price, author of The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, writes, “If we want to be sure to save enough of our time and attention for the things that matter to us the most, we need to know what those things are—and create space for them” (p. 170).

When so much of the world is in flux of some kind, and there are indeed many transitions ahead for our division, my wish for 2024 is that we do our best to stay focused on the important things, to care for one another, and to follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, silly!) method for making space for things that matter most to each of us.

Middle School Office Staffing, Reminders, and Updates! 
With the departure of Mrs. Lassonde, Ms. Meras and I will be managing the divisional office tasks, duties, and day-to-day activities. If you need to report an absence, we request that you email MSOffice@moundsparkacademy.org. If it is urgent, please email either of us individually (pmeras@moundsparkacademy.org) and (jmilam@moundsparkacademy.org) and we will get it ASAP. As a reminder, the office phone number is (651) 748-5565.

Additionally, if you or someone you know loves middle schoolers, a dynamic work environment, and is yearning to be a part of a great team, we would love it if you would share our Middle School Assistant job posting here.

Priority review of applications will begin on January 12! Thanks for your support, kindness, and for sharing in your networks! Read More


Lower School Division News January 11, 2024

from Jennifer Le Varge, Lower School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Monday, January 15: No Classes, Martin Luther King Day
  • Monday, January 15: Indexed Tuition Re-Application Deadline
  • Friday, January 19: LS Duty Free Lunch, 12:15-12:45 PM, Family Commons
  • Monday, January 22: No Classes, Professional Day, register for Panther Care >
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: No Classes, Professional Development (Panther Care Closed)
  • Monday, February 19: No Classes, Presidents’ Day

Welcome to 2024! Families seemed to enjoy a restful winter break, and the students are eager and ready to return to the comfort of school routines. Please read on for January updates and beyond:

Conferences Coming Up: February 9 and 15
Our Lower and Middle School Conferences will be held at the start of February. We will be sending scheduling instructions and details soon—please watch your email for registration/scheduling instructions by the end of this week. MPA will once again be using Pick-A-Time for conference registration. You will need to schedule your student’s conferences between noon on Friday, January 19, and noon on Friday, January 26. Families with two or more students at MPA may sign up a day earlier, starting at noon on Thursday, January 18, to help you secure back-to-back conferences for your children. Once the system re-opens at noon on Monday, January 29, families can schedule up to two additional conferences for a total of five conferences. The scheduling window will close completely at noon on Wednesday, January 31. A letter with more information will be coming home soon. Kindly note, no additional conferences will be scheduled after January 31. Read More


A Roadmap for Continuous Improvement

Students and Mr. Moran in the Makerspace I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve made them in the past and forgotten about them within a few weeks—workout machines that soon become a place to drape clothes or a gym membership that quickly goes unused. What I’ve learned over the years is that committing to continual improvement is more sustainable and successful than a one-time set of resolutions.

MPA is committed to continual improvement. The roadmap for improvement is defined in our strategic plan, 2024ward, and validated by accreditation by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, ISACS. 2024ward resulted from multiple conversations with MPA constituents and a thorough study of what our students need to be successful now and in the future.

The first priority of 2024ward is to “empower students to live, learn, and thrive in our increasingly complex and globalized society.” How we do that is in part expressed in the second priority, “ensure an equitable and inclusive community.” To succeed, we need to “affirm and inspire our exceptional and dedicated faculty and staff,” as stated in the third priority. Finally, our school’s future will be secured by the fourth and final priority, “enhance institutional capacity by continuing to strengthen financial sustainability.” These four priorities and the goals, objectives, and action plans support and guide decisions and ongoing school improvement.

Priority One, “Empower students to live, learn, and thrive in our increasingly complex and globalized society,” can seem as though we need a crystal ball. It’s a bit daunting and pretentious to think we have a hold on the future, especially in a society and world hurdling forward at a breakneck speed. However, we know we can’t continue to live and learn the same way we have in the past. As celebrated educational reformer John Dewey said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

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An Invitation to the Party: The Emotional Lives of Teenagers

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Editor’s Note: Periodically, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from members of the administrative team. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

“It is a deep comfort to children to discover that their feelings are a normal part of the human experience.” -Haim Ginott (1965)

“For teenagers, powerful emotions are a feature, not a bug. This has always been true, but these days it seems to be less widely understood.” -Lisa Damour (2023)

These two quotes, while written by two different people in two different centuries (wrap your head around that!), in what most would say are, societally, two entirely different worlds, point to the same thing—emotions are normal, for all of us, and are even more a hallmark of what it means to be a teenage human—regardless of decade, generation, identity status, or continent. Both Haim and Lisa are child psychologists, parent educators, and child advocates of the best kind—the kind that see childhood as a journey, a time of exploration—of really high highs and some rough lows. Bumps, bruises, broken hearts, and bad grades are partners (even co-conspirators) of the best kind to championship wins on the ball field or volleyball court, best friend adventures, all-night-giggly-sleepovers, a cute prom-posal, or a new pair of sneakers. It’s like a middle school dance where we stood on opposite sides of the gym, not sure what to do, but no one wants to miss anything, so we all stand around awkwardly hoping for something great—and wouldn’t you know, while we might not get asked to dance by our secret crush, our favorite song comes on, and we end up on the dance floor jumping around to “Shake It Off!” by T-Swift having the time of our life!

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