Finding Balance In The Snow

third graders snowshoeing in Phy EdBy Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Like you, I spent a good part of the day Wednesday shoveling out from another blast of snow. I love the quiet of a snow storm and work to find balance between appreciating the beauty and cursing the extra work it requires. It has also been a challenge to find balance between the safety of our community and our commitment to academic excellence. Cancelling school is never an easy decision, particularly when we have missed so many days already. Finding balance is tough work.

As I was shoveling, I was thinking about another challenging balance that is important to maintain: the three A’s (arts, athletics, and academics) that serve as the foundation of our school’s mission. In particular, I’ve been troubled by the state of athletics, not only in Minnesota, but nationally. There has been a rise of single sport athletes and club sports that affects not only athletic programs, but also athletes themselves. At MPA, we strive to offer a variety of opportunities for our students, maintain a no-cut policy, and be competitive. However, that is becoming increasingly difficult to balance as well. Read More


Together, We Dream And Reflect

panther and middle school students at the groundbreaking ceremonyOn Thursday, February 14, the MPA community gathered in the Kreischer Gym for one large, nostalgic celebration. One of the four Together, We Dream priorities allows us to create a shared space—a new commons and cafeteria—where Mounds Park Academy students and teachers alike will enjoy meals from a new state-of-the-art kitchen in the space where the Kreischer Gym currently resides.

We were lucky to have several MPA alumni in attendance who say that the Kreischer Gym is featured in some of their fondest school memories.

“I remember the obstacle course from my phy ed class and how fun that unit was weaving through the Kreischer Gym, hopping from one green step aerobics platform to another, running through a tunnel of gym mats, crawling under jump ropes strung across the course, flying through the air on the rope swing, pulling yourself along with the seated scooters, and tumbling down gymnastics mats,” says Nate Bander ’09. “I also remember flying balsa wood gliders in Middle School science, participating in my first Homecoming assembly in seventh grade, and playing on Mr. Brandon’s ninth grade basketball team in the Kreischer Gym.”

Maddy Wolfe ’12 echoes Nate’s sentiments. “The Kreischer Gym was a really fun home to have for all of the spring musicals I was in,” she says. “That’s where we made memories hanging out backstage and getting ready for the performances. I also remember taking a self-defense class in the Kreischer for my senior seminar.” Read More


A Magical Moment of Kindness

Kindergarten reading kindness quotes to upper schoolby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Adults and children alike are asking a question of themselves and others these days: What does it mean to be kind? During a time of societal change and upheaval, the place of kindness in our lives is often taken up by rancor, division, and sometimes violence. I was horrified last week by the incident on I-94 when a driver, overcome with road rage, fired a gun at a school bus driver. Schools are not immune and can be cruel places. It is a sad fact that more than one out of five students nationwide will be bullied this year. Research has demonstrated time and again that when students don’t feel safe, it is difficult for them to learn and grow.

Kindness is not something to be taken for granted. It is important that parents and schools join together and intentionally foster empathy. Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teacher things like color and numbers. She is convinced that for kids to show empathy to us, we need to show empathy to them. At MPA, we believe very strongly in fostering a kind and joyful community. What is at stake is more than academic achievement, it is a sense of self and developing the confidence to fly. Read More


Seventh Graders Help Define Library Dreams

group explaining their library design projectWhen MPA faculty and staff learned of the extraordinary changes that Together, We Dream: The Campaign For MPA was bringing to our school, ideas started circulating about how student voice could be incorporated into the process. With the exact concepts yet to be entirely defined, Ms. Koen decided to incorporate the design of our new library into her Makerspace class: her seventh grade students were going to take on the task of turning our shared library dreams into a reality. Read More


Maker Fest 2019: Meet The North Star Scrollers

Gary Geist of the North Star ScrollersWe’re interviewing the Makers you’ll meet at at Maker Fest 2019 on Saturday, February 23 so you can get to know them ahead of time! Returning to Maker Fest for their second year is the group the North Star Scrollers! If reading about the North Star Scrollers’ work has inspired you to share your own, sign up here to be a Maker yourself!

What (or who) inspires you to make? 

The challenge of making wood projects with detailed cuts and seeing the joy it brings to a person when you give one as a gift.

What do you enjoy making?

Project types include: desk plaques with name/company, veterans, religious themes, occupations, pets, fish, etc.

What are your favorite materials and mediums?

Oak, walnut, Baltic Birch plywood

If you could make anything imaginable with no restrictions, what would you make?

Complex original logos of the military branches.

What music do you listen to while you work?

Classical.

How has the MPA Makerspace impacted your abilities?

Provides an opportunity to share your talent with others and to inspire youth to become interested in woodworking, such as scroll sawing.

 


Together, We’ll Meet The Changing Needs

Dr. Hudson in the commons with upper school studentby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

We are fortunate to live in an older neighborhood in Minneapolis. Our house, built in 1915, is more than 100 years old and has a warm, comfortable feel to it. However, with two parents, two children, two dogs, and aging parents, we made the decision several years ago to add on a new kitchen, a bathroom on the first floor, and a family room in the basement. The old kitchen was so small that I could touch the counter and cupboards on one side and easily touch the sink and counter on the other side. Cozy doesn’t quite capture the feeling of what it was like to cook in that small space and it limited what we were able to prepare and serve for our family and loved ones.

We love our house and can’t imagine living anywhere else. However, as our family evolved, our needs did too. We needed to change how we lived. Schools are like that too. Over time, our vision of education changes and the needs of our students emerge in ways that cause us to outgrow the spaces that served us so well for so long. Mounds Park Academy is no exception. Throughout the history of the school, we have renovated and added on to the original building constructed in 1958 to better meet the changing needs of our students. Read More


Social Media: Online And On Edge

Two students sitting with phonesby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School Director, Mounds Park Academy

Just last week I had the privilege of sitting among fellow Middle School parents to hear a presentation prepared and expertly delivered by Ms. Mohn’s Upper School women’s literature students about the power and dangers of online vulnerability that exist in and through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and any number of newly emerging applications. This parent education session serendipitously followed my attending a screening of the new film, “LIKE: A Documentary About the Impact of Social Media on our Lives,” with my family just a few days before.

What is clear to me as I write this piece is that now, more than ever, we must have open, honest, informed, and critical conversations surrounding not only how we (yes, you and I) and our children are using social media; but more, how it is using us. While online interactions in these virtual worlds may seem somewhat disconnected from reality, make no mistake the influence of the social connections, comments, tweets, direct messages, chats, and images that are exchanged online spill over into the very fiber of our daily lives, and into our beings as humans.

It is present each day that the Middle School students walk through the halls at MPA, when they play basketball afterschool, and attend Quiz Bowl tournaments on the weekend. It’s likely present in Lower School students’ experiences as they attend birthday parties and playdates and parents post pictures with captions on Facebook. And, yes, in Upper Schoolers’ interactions as they navigate college acceptances, celebrations, personal life moments, and social dynamics and move into adulthood.

Does this seem overwhelming? If you answered yes, you are not alone. The good news is, we can change our behavior and therefore, change the impact that social media has on our lives and those of our children. Read More


Choosing A School Path That Inspires

Lower Schooler SmilingThere are so many things to think about when you’re raising a child, but there are few things more important than their education. A child’s educational journey only happens once, so it’s important to guide them down the path that is right for them.

For many, a private school education is the right choice because of the personalized attention students receive. Complementing the academic experience, many private schools teach students to be responsible community members and encourage them to make a positive impact on the world.

A strong focus on each child’s unique abilities

At Mounds Park Academy, our focus on every child’s individuality is one of the things that makes us so unique. We embrace every child, celebrate their differences, and help guide them to discover who they are truly meant to be. Teachers are not bound by test- score data as the sole measure of a student’s abilities, so they have more freedom and flexibility to accommodate individual students’ needs. Small class sizes allow teachers to better evaluate their students’ academic and personal strengths and challenges. Teachers engage with students every day in ways that help them thrive. Read More


It’s In Our DNA

middle school girls working together in classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Last week, a new lunch group was launched in the Middle School. Seventh and eighth grade girls were invited to participate in a “Girl Power Friendship Group” over the course of eight weeks. During lunch, Middle School girls are coming together to learn about how to navigate difficult emotions, confidently communicate with others, and build strong friendships. The new group, under the guidance of Ashley Cooper, Middle and Upper School counselor, and Aria Fiat, Ph.D. candidate from the University of Minnesota, is a proactive way to address the social, emotional, and mental health challenges that appear developmentally in adolescent girls.

Just last week in my head’s message, I reiterated a vision of MPA that reframes the understanding of “whole-child for whole-life.” Such an education is collaborative, experiential, and interdisciplinary, which values the assessments of broader aims—those skills, dispositions, and mindsets most necessary to live, learn, and thrive in today’s 21st century globalized society. A crucial aspect of which is the social, emotional, and mental health of our students. Read More


Strategic Planning From The Board’s Perspective

middle school students working togetherby Brent Peacock, Chair of the MPA Board of Trustees

In 2015, MPA launched an extensive, highly collaborative, strategic planning process. The process, which was initiated, designed and driven by a task force of the Board of Trustees and Head of School, involved and engaged 64 stakeholders from across the school community, including leadership, faculty, staff, families and, critically, students. The process was grounded in the mission and values of the school and was designed to be collaborative, comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive. It provided both a compass and a blueprint to make informed decisions in order to respond, anticipate, and proactively plan for changes and challenges ahead. Not only did the process produce a strong 5-year strategic plan (Momentum 2020), it also built trust and partnerships among its wide array of stakeholders. Read More