Relationships Matter

Katie Murr and Salmah ElmasryThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the October 28, 2023 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

At MPA, relationships matter, and every child is known. We pride ourselves in being a community that connects with one another. We collaborate with one another, we lift each other up, we provide a support system when needed, and we celebrate each and every one of our accomplishments. As a small-by-design school, every day we witness how relationships have the power to transform lives.

Through our 7:1 student-teacher ratio and dedicated faculty and staff, students receive help when need it, they are fiercely cared for, and they are encouraged to dream big. This is, and always has been, an integral part of who we are as a school.

So when Upper School history teacher Katie Murr and Salmah Elmasry ’21 were met with an opportunity of a lifetime–an opportunity that would require close collaboration and partnership between a teacher and student–they did not hesitate to work together and do right by their community.

When teachers see, hear, and believe in their students, remarkable things happen. Hear their story here.


October Alumni Updates

We are looking for more Alumni Stories to feature. We would love to hear what you have been up to since graduating from MPA. Please email us to provide updates to alumni@moundsparkacademy.org.

Ben Ullery ‘00: “I’ve played viola in the LA Philharmonic since 2011, and I recently was named Associate Principal Viola by Music Director Gustavo Dudamel after a national audition for the spot. In the past few years, I’ve also appeared as Guest Principal Viola with the Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Australian Chamber Orchestra. I also enjoy teaching talented viola students at the Colburn School in downtown LA, and at the Aspen Music Festival in the summer. In addition, I play a lot of solo and chamber music around LA and at various festivals across the US and abroad. In my personal life, I live with my girlfriend (a cellist also in the LA Phil) in the Fairfax District of LA, and in my free time I enjoy studying and playing chess, hiking, cooking vegan and vegetarian food, and snowboarding (which I learned during my MPA years in Mr. Edmundson’s snowboard club). As for my thoughts about MPA…my classes there inspired a lifelong interest and curiosity about literature, science, and language (I still try to study and speak Spanish when I get the opportunity), and I have many lasting friendships from my time there.”

For more on Ben, check out his website at benullery.com and follow him at @bullerbot!

Sofia Walker ‘19 wins first ITA Midwest Regional Doubles title for St. Catherine University Tennis.
We would love to hear what you have been up to since graduating MPA. Please reach out to alumni@moundsparkacademy.org to provide your update. 

 


Help Organize Your Reunion! A Message from Nick Henry ’93

Earlier this year, one of my classmates from MPA’s class of 1993 texted me asking if I had heard if anything was happening for our 30-year reunion. I said no, but I’d contact the alumni team at MPA to see. When I did that, Ashley Goetzke, assistant director of development, got back to me and said, “No, but congratulations, you’re the reunion chair for your class’s reunion!” So, I texted my buddy and said, “Congratulations! You’re the reunion chair for our reunion.” It’s not that we didn’t want to do it. Well, that’s not true. We weren’t relishing the idea per se, but we quickly realized that the benefit (reconnecting with our classmates) outweighed the drawbacks (herding cats and doing so from afar as neither of us live in Minnesota). We decided the challenge was worth pursuing and forged ahead.

I have two primary takeaways from this experience:

The first is that we found our classmates were more than eager to help crowd source spreading the word, tracking down—and, once tracked down, cajoling—classmates. Whatever the reason, be it a YOLO attitude post-COVID, or (more likely) the value of the connections forged at MPA filtered through the gravity of 30 years in our case this year, each classmate we connected with in trying to ascertain who would be interested and then when they would be available, was gung ho and made that part of the process immeasurably easier for their willingness to amplify the cause. Honestly, tracking people down and then herding them toward consensus was the thing that gave me the most trepidation, and it ended up being very light lifting on our part due to the commitment of our classmates.

The second is that the outcome—we had 21 of 42 (living) classmates, 11 plus-1s, four former teachers, and one former Upper School director attend—was beyond worth it. No, not everyone in our class wanted to participate. Those who didn’t had their reasons, and they were respectable reasons. Several more would have attended but for immovable conflicts. But the desire to re-connect was far stronger than I had anticipated. We had classmates come in from New York, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, and *Mexico* for the event. The interest from former teachers/administrators was also extremely gratifying, and the chance to connect with them—this time as adults—was really fun, too.

If you’re considering stepping up and spearheading the organization efforts of your class’s reunion, but are concerned that it won’t be worth it, I would encourage you to go for it. The sum total of my experience doing so was a massively positive, fulfilling, and enjoyable experience both in the preparation and the event itself. Think about what MPA and your experience there as a student means to you all these years later and ask yourself whether or not you’d like to re-connect with the primary drivers of that experience—your classmates. If the answer is yes, then the cost of your time and energy in putting it together will pale in comparison to the benefits you will receive from the manifestation of your efforts.

Sincerely,

Nick Henry
MPA Class of 1993


Your Gift, Their Future, Bethany Branan ‘98

Dear MPA Alumni,

School is in full swing, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the lasting impact of our alumni community and the incredible potential we have to make a difference. Mounds Park Academy has always been a place where students are nurtured, dreams are dreamt and realized, and leaders for positive change are encouraged. As MPA alumni, we’ve experienced firsthand the power of education, the joy of a diverse and inclusive community, and what it means to dream big and do right.

It’s in that spirit of nostalgia and giving that you are invited to join us in the 2023 “Your Gift, Their Future” Fall Campaign. With your support, we can ensure MPA students, faculty, and staff have the tools, resources, and support they need for a bright future.

Please Save The Date
The Fall Campaign will be November 11-November 18, culminating with Give to the Max Day on November 16. This one week is a pivotal time when we can all come together to help achieve MPA’s fundraising goal of $500,000 to support teachers, students, and the entire community. Your gift, regardless of its size, holds the potential to make a profound impact and will play a vital role in shaping the future of our school.

Why I Give
As an alumna and MPA parent of two, I’m continually amazed and inspired by the passion my daughters have for school and education. They are not just students; they are young learners who are constructively challenged every day. Whether it’s the rigors of Singapore math, the imaginative wonders of Makers Space STEM projects, the character-building assemblies, or even the thrill of authoring their first book with vibrant illustrations, MPA is all about fostering curiosity and understanding.

MPA students are taught to seek the “whys” and the “hows,” to embrace their mistakes as stepping stones to improvement, to practice kindness and thoughtfulness, and to appreciate the sheer joy of learning for learning’s sake. It’s a truly unique and special environment.

What is also extraordinary is the community that flourishes here. When I reunite with fellow MPA alumni, there’s an immediate camaraderie, an unspoken understanding that transcends the years. We all share a common bond, an acknowledgment that we’ve been gifted a treasure chest of tools and the skills to use those tools to make the world a better place.

My donation to MPA is not just an investment in the school but also in future leaders, thinkers, and dreamers. To support exceptional education that empowers students to explore, grow, and impact the world.

Choose Your Impact & and Make A Gift
This year, I encourage you to choose your impact and direct your gift in one or all of the following ways: Academic Innovation, Access, Arts, Athletics. Contribute to the areas that resonate with your heart and experiences.

Please visit moundsparkacademy.org/support or reach out via email at giving@moundsparkacademy.org to learn about different giving options.

Thank you for your support of Mounds Park Academy. Together, we can make an impact and ensure the legacy of our alma mater continues to thrive.


What Makes a Global Citizen?

Salmah and Ms. Murr talking togetherThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the September 21, 2023 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

At MPA, we are nurturing dreamers, doers, and right-makers. We are equipping students with academic knowledge to be change agents and world-shakers. In fact, in MPA’s Code of Ethics, our community acknowledges the responsibility of being a global citizen by advocating for social justice, caring for the welfare of others, and promoting human equality, among other pillars rooted in respect.

“Right-making is a seed that is planted in each student and cultivated as they journey through MPA. Not only do we teach character traits like inclusiveness and integrity, we promote a do-right attitude through our actions and words while we learn and grow together. This inspires us to dream big and impact others positively at home and in the world,” Kristine Petersen, MPA Kindergarten teacher says of global citizenship at MPA.

Through rigorous curriculum with meaning and purpose, and an educational blueprint with character education at its heart, MPA pushes students to realize that their identities are measured by the depth and decency of their impact on the world–our world. Perhaps Ms. Murr and Salmah ’21 could illustrate what this means.

Global citizenship at MPA is all about students discovering how to make a positive difference in our world, helping one another, and feeling connected. We emphasize character education. We require service projects prior to graduation. We support student-led clubs with cause-based initiatives. We partner with global organizations–The Red Cross and Seeds of Change, for example–for our students as young as first grade to realize their responsibility to positively impact our world. This is what makes a global citizen–and cultivating a service-based mindset in students is key to unlocking a larger worldview, while also preparing them for all that lies ahead.


Message from Alumni Board Member and MPA Third Grade Teacher, Annie Stewart ‘11

As an educator in Minnesota, the month of September brings many transitions—the end of the State Fair and, therefore, summer vacation, begrudgingly getting back into a school sleep schedule, cooler temperatures, and the joys of planning for a new year, and a new set of students. This September was no different, except that I would be officially teaching at MPA. If you had asked me when I graduated twelve years ago if I could see myself teaching, let alone teaching at the academy, I would have scoffed and said, “There is NO WAY I’m doing what my parents do!” Funny how life works out, right? Starting a new school year is always nerve-wracking no matter how long you’ve been teaching, “Are the kids going to like me? Have I done enough lesson planning? What if they hate the room? What if I mess up?” What I’m grateful for during this season of transition is how easy it was for me to handle those nerves, knowing I’d be coming back home. Regardless of your experience at MPA, there is something inherently special about walking the halls of your alma mater. What struck me as I dragged box after box of classroom decorations and school supplies down the Lower School hallway was, “Okay! I guess I’m really doing this… and thank goodness I get to be doing it here.” After spending four years teaching in public schools, I felt a literal weight taken off my shoulders when I walked through my classroom door. I knew that no matter what this school year would bring, I would be supported, cared for, and cheered on by everyone in the building.

As you all go through your own transitions this fall, don’t forget about all of the happenings going on back on campus. Homecoming is right around the corner on September 29 and 30 with the inaugural Hall of Fame induction dinner for outstanding Panther athletics, an all-alumni social gathering, the class of 1994 reunion, and lots of opportunities for you to cheer on Panther sports. You’ll find me cheering on the girls volleyball team! The fall is a great time to reconnect with MPA, and I hope to see many of you on campus, whether you’re here for Homecoming or just for a tour. If you want to see me in action, come down to room #113 and hang out with some awesome 3rd graders!


Joe Kordosky, 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Launched earlier this year as a way to celebrate MPA’s rich athletic tradition, MPA is proud to announce the 2023 Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kordosky, athletic director and coach, Bev Docherty, teacher and coach, Mason Ferlic ’11, alum athlete, and Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, alum athlete. Please take a moment to read thoughts from Joe (Kordo) Kordosky below!

What was your greatest accomplishment in your 28 years as an athletic director and coach at MPA?
My greatest accomplishment was the establishment and development of MPA’s Athletic Program. In 1992-93, MPA was accepted into the Tri-Valley Athletic Conference. This enabled MPA athletes to compete for Conference titles and also earn much-deserved All-Conference recognition. The first MPA team to win a Conference Championship was the 1994 Girls Track Team coached by Bev Docherty.

What is your happiest memory of your time at MPA?
I have so many great memories. The one that made me the proudest was in 2002 when MPA sent both boys’ and girls’ soccer teams to the State Tournament. This created tremendous excitement and school spirit throughout the entire MPA community.

What impact do you hope you had on others at MPA?
I hope my enthusiasm and belief that the MPA Athletic Program could be competitive and successful would encourage others to support the athletes and the program.

Who at MPA had the greatest influence on you?
The school’s founder, Bob Kreischer. He instilled in me the importance of always creating the best student opportunities and programs.

How would your fellow students or staffers describe you?
Kordo was approachable, with a great sense of humor. He thoroughly enjoyed the numerous student interactions throughout each day. He had an open-door policy and was always working to improve the athletics experience at MPA.


Bev Docherty, 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Launched earlier this year as a way to celebrate MPA’s rich athletic tradition, MPA is proud to announce the 2023 Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kordosky, athletic director and coach, Bev Docherty, teacher and coach, Mason Ferlic ’11, alum athlete, and Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, alum athlete. Please take a moment to read thoughts from Bev Docherty below!

What was your greatest accomplishment in your 35 years of teaching and coaching at MPA?
Developing a consistently strong, enjoyable, competitive track and field team was the goal I was trying to accomplish throughout my time at MPA. The MPA track and field records are outstanding in every event and are a testament to the program’s quality. Taking an entire bus full of State Qualifiers to practice at the venue before the big meet in 2019 was such a memorable accomplishment. We qualified for three relays and several individual events on the girls’ and boys’ teams: sprints, distance, and field events. We came away from State that year with six All-State performers!

What is your happiest memory of your time at MPA?
So many happy memories from so many decades! Coaching the first MPA State Champion (Lauren LaRoche-400m), the first Girls Conference Championship as a team (Tri-Valley Conference by 1/2 point, highlighted by four women coaches), the first boys State Champion—then in multiple events (Mason Ferlic-1600m, 3200m), our first Relay State Champion (4 x 800m; Kethan Dahlberg, Nick Gardner, Nolan Ferlic, Evan Ferlic), our first Field Event State Champion (Yahya Madar-High Jump, tied State Record) were all awesome memories. But hosting the co-ed relays on the new Schilling Track, working with student-athletes and families who supported track and field throughout our journey with celebrations, and surviving long, cold meets with smiles are also happy memories. Watching so many student-athletes reach their goals at every level, in every event, is probably the most rewarding.

How did your time at MPA shape your future?
Our home life revolved around MPA track and field in the spring. Schedules were set with my husband and family making adjustments to support me in my love of coaching track and field. It seemed to work out all right as all four of our children went on to compete in track and field in college, shaping their lives as well. Also, when I coached cross country, members of the team babysat for our children, providing me with a night out with my husband—not at a track!

What is one piece of advice that you would share with MPA athletes?
I’ve always encouraged my athletes to “trust your training.” I think this could speak to all of their endeavors as they trust their well-rounded MPA education. The education gained from needing resilience, hard work, and leadership on the track and in their classroom prepared them for reaching their goals. MPA athletes have had experience/practice with meeting challenges and finding success. I hope they trust that experience as they take on new goals.

What impact do you hope you had on others at MPA?
I hope I helped the MPA community understand and support athletics as a valuable part of each student-athlete’s total education.


Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Launched earlier this year as a way to celebrate MPA’s rich athletic tradition, MPA is proud to announce the 2023 Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kordosky, athletic director and coach, Bev Docherty, teacher and coach, Mason Ferlic ’11, alum athlete, and Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, alum athlete. Please take a moment to read thoughts from Caitlin below!

What is your happiest memory of 13 years at MPA?
Sitting on the steps outside the Upper School, putting on shin guards and cleats with my friends and teammates before soccer practice on fall afternoons. Or maybe the anticipation of preseason practices, the excitement of being back together again? Or Back To School Night when we got to meet our new teachers each year. Sitting on the carpet as Ms. Lage read pictures books to us in the library. Pie at Baker’s Square after choir concerts. The Heritage Fair in the cafeteria. Too many happy memories to choose just one!

How did your time at MPA shape your future?
The most important things I got out of my time at MPA were enthusiasm for learning and school, and the deep-rooted sense of self that continues to guide me. The supportive, positive environment MPA provided during those early years created a stable foundation for everything that came after.

In what ways did the school support you during your time at MPA?
I remember how good it felt to have teachers congratulate me after the soccer team had a good game, or after a track meet went well—to know that these adults really cared. The school was also supportive and flexible about our family living in rural Chile for three months during my sophomore year. My teachers adapted their curriculums to help me make the most of that unique life experience.

Who at MPA had the greatest influence on you?
I can’t say enough about the positive impact of the soccer and track coaches, Mike Scinto, Al Greimel, and Bev Docherty. Their encouragement and confidence in me allowed me to be myself and grow in the most joyful way possible. I can only hope that my own kids find coaches/human beings of the same caliber to nurture them in the same way. In fact, I can say the same thing about every single one of my teachers and coaches at MPA.

What is something about you or your time at MPA that few people know?
The morning of my first day of kindergarten, I woke up at 3 AM, put on my uniform and my backpack, and woke my parents up to let them know I was ready to go to school.


Mason Ferlic ’11, 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Launched earlier this year as a way to celebrate MPA’s rich athletic tradition, MPA is proud to announce the 2023 Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kordosky, athletic director and coach, Bev Docherty, teacher and coach, Mason Ferlic ’11, alum athlete, and Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, alum athlete. Please take a moment to read thoughts from Mason below!

What was your greatest accomplishment in your four years at MPA?
After a successful junior year track season, I set the lofty goal of winning the state cross country championships. It was the first time I called my “shot” and let everyone know that was my goal for the season. When the day came, I defeated my rival in a duel over the last kilometer. Winning that race transformed my mentality as an athlete and opened my eyes to what was possible with self-belief and work ethic. I also have very fond memories of that time with the team—every day was a blast, and we all trained with a purpose.

How did your time at MPA shape your future?
Without the excellent coaching and supportive environment, I would not have had the same level of success that got me recruited to the University of Michigan and eventually make an Olympic team. MPA fostered my love for running and competing—I grew as an athlete and a person. Looking back, much of my success can be attributed to my formative years in high school. I learned to win, lose, and deal with challenges. MPA started my athletic career, but it certainly did not end there.

What is one piece of advice that you would share with MPA athletes?
Be bold and set ambitious goals. Real challenges require real sacrifices; hold yourself accountable to achieving those dreams. I spent many weekends, holiday vacations, and after-school hours training and preparing so that when the opportunity came, I could truly test my limits. When you wholeheartedly commit to a goal, do so with conviction and clarity. Remember, the journey is the ultimate reward.

Who at MPA had the greatest influence on you?
My MPA coaches, Bev Docherty and Dan Ethier, profoundly impacted my development as an athlete and person. They were the first to recognize my talent for running and cultivate the drive to be a champion. They were not just mentors on the track or cross country course but also in life. They instilled in me the essence of being a true athlete, emphasizing the importance of physical and mental preparation. Like all great coaches, their wisdom revolved around the power of patience, teaching me not to rush toward short-term achievements but rather to trust the process and focus on long-term growth. They were always there to balance my enthusiasm and disappointment, imparting valuable life lessons that extend far beyond the realm of sports. Their guidance has left a lasting mark on my character and approach to challenges.