Meet Retired Founding Faculty Member, Karen Rossbach!


Position while at MPA:
Art Teacher

How many years did you work at MPA?
37

What do you miss the most about MPA?
I miss my students, who were always excited to be in class and enjoyed spending time together creating with various materials. I also miss my colleagues who are the hardest working and most collaborative people I know.

What have you been up to since leaving MPA?
My retirement has not taken an expected or “normal” path thus far. With any hopes of travel severely restricted, I have spent most of my time care-giving my mother, since the pandemic started. Being “her bubble”, I helped mom connect with family members through Facetime and Zoom visits. I basically lived a life of virtual meetings, Zoom workouts, and coffees. I even attended a four day virtual National Art Educators Conference. When I could carve out some extra time I would work in my garden planting chard, basil and other greens. I also spent time finally setting up a home studio space. I am looking forward to changing times and hopeful retirement opportunities.


Celebrating Our Story: The 40 Years Of MPA

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

When families gather, it is not uncommon to tell stories, especially when celebrating important occasions and milestones. In my family, we not only celebrate our children’s birthdays but also the day their adoption became official, their Family Day. No matter their age or their groans, both children enjoy hearing the story of when we first met them, what our time together in Guatemala was like, about the plane ride “home,” and about the celebration with family and friends when we landed in Minnesota. Stories like these are told when milestones are celebrated serve as anchors for who we are, help shape our identity, and deepen our values.

Mounds Park Academy is in the midst of such a celebration that will span the entire school year. Together, we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of this remarkable school. I’ve had the honor and privilege of spending a good amount time with both our founders, Bob Kreischer and Sandy Kreischer Smith, and have been captivated by their dreams, hopes, and passion for education that led them to found MPA. By drawing together and inspiring their friends and fellow educators, Bob and Sandy articulated a very unique and compelling mission. From our original graduating class of seven students, now to our 574 current students, every child who enters our doors benefits from the vision and commitment of those early educators, which we still draw on today.

We have been thinking of this milestone as our very own community birthday celebration. Togetherness might look and feel differently right now than if we were celebrating the 40th anniversary two years ago or even two years from now. But we hope that we can all join together to say Happy Birthday to MPA. We hope you will join in the fun, beginning with some exciting activities to safely gather–virtually and in person–in November for the MPA Fall Campaign (more details will be released soon). To share in the storytelling with you, retired faculty and staff profiles will be released in the coming weeks and months. I hope this gives you a glimpse into the many wonderful people who have made our school what it is today. Read More


Growing Through Experience

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

On Wednesday, 48 seventh graders excitedly boarded buses for a day at the Minnesota Zoo. From the outside it might look like a typical field trip, but in true MPA fashion, it is a thoughtfully crafted lesson that intentionally weaves together science, student agency, experiential learning, critical thinking, creativity, design thinking, and a dose of joy. There is a lot to unpack in that description, but I’d like to focus on just one aspect, experiential learning.

You have no doubt heard the term, “hands-on, experiential learning” sometime during your time at MPA. We use it often but have rarely explained it and its importance to learning. The concept first appeared in “Nicomachean Ethics” written in 350 BC by Aristotle, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Modern educational theorists such as John Dewey wrote about the importance of learning by doing, but it is David Kolb who developed an experiential learning theory and model. It was upon this body of knowledge that MPA developed our founding pedagogy in 1982.

Kolb defined experiential learning as “The process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” Experiential learning recognizes that students come to school with past experience and knowledge and that the school’s job is to provide a rich learning environment that engages the students at their individual levels. Examples of experiential learning abound at all grade levels at MPA and include hands-on laboratory experiments, projects in the Makerspace, work in outdoor gardens, monarch butterfly way stations, prairie restoration, field trips, performances, and more. Read More


Discover Something Remarkable At The MPA Preview

upper school physics studentsIf you have ever dreamed of a way to experience life at MPA in a day, the PreK-12 Preview is the perfect opportunity to discover why you belong here. You and your entire family are warmly invited to attend the MPA Preview on Sunday, November 7 at 2 PM.

Though virtual, this event will provide prospective families with an opportunity to truly discover the type of remarkable hands on learning that MPA students do each day. You will rotate among several classes taught by our expert faculty. These will be interactive, experiential sessions that are actually abbreviated versions of real MPA lessons, modified to be appropriate for all ages. Prospective families will also have an opportunity to take a virtual tour and experience 15 of our state-of-the-art spaces.

Lower School Sessions

Keep It Up with Tim Sheehan, Lower School physical education teacher
Improve your volleying and striking skills during the Keep It Up session. You will learn how to properly toss, catch, volley, and work through several challenges that are safe to do at home. You only need a balloon or two socks rolled up in a ball and any type of basket (laundry basket, bucket, paper bag) to participate!

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building with Tami Fisher, second grade teacher
After a quick tour of the makerspace, Ms. Fisher will share a read aloud and lead a short lesson connecting math and literature and critical thinking. Using the elements of design thinking and brainstorming families will choose a structure or material they were inspired by from the anchor text and create their own structure. Families are encouraged to participate in the brainstorming and planning, so that they may build their structure at a later time. Possible materials: cardboard tubes (toilet paper/paper towels), fruit snacks and toothpicks, Lego, deck of cards, plastic cups

Read More


This October Keep Sipping, Savoring, and Supporting MPA!

PA Message Support MPA Homecoming Week with a Parent Coffee and Ground Decorating

Friday, October 1, 7:45-10 AM: Meet under the big white tent in the west parking lot, rain or shine. Meet other MPA parents, help make the decorations for the outdoor fields, and write messages of encouragement for our athletes.Go Panthers!

Spruce Up our Pond

Saturday, Oct , 9, 2:00-4:00 PM: Clean up the retention pond on Larpenteur Ave. with Michelle Mick, michelle_wessely@yahoo.com. The rain date is October 16th, same time, 2-4 PM. Please bring tools such as waterproof gloves, waders (for anyone who would like to dig in the water), loppers, saws, and share any time you are able! Students can earn volunteer hours for this, as well, so encourage your student to join in!

Savor New Friendships and Share a Taco

Wednesday, October 13, 11:15 AM at Centro: Come have lunch on the patio and make new friends! Let Staci, sbhehe42@icloud.com, know if you plan on coming. You order and pay by phone, so don’t forget to bring your phone with you!

Sip Coffee and Relax by the River

Wednesday, Oct 20, 9:00 AM: Celebrate the start of MEA weekend with a relaxing morning in Stillwater. Bring your chairs and meet at the parking lot by River Market, 221 North Main Street, Stillwater, Minnesota. From there, you can sit by the river with a coffee, take a walk across the lift bridge, ride the Brown’s Creek trail, or head to a nearby park to play.

PARENTS CONNECT

Wednesday Morning Walks

The Parents Association invites parents and guardians to get together Wednesday mornings after drop off with Michelle Mick. We’ll meet at the flagpole near the LS entrance. LS, MS and US families are welcome. Chat with new parents and connect with friends. Younger children are welcome to walk with us.

Monday and Thursday Mornings in the Garden

Get your hands dirty after drop off, helping in MPA’s gardens. No experience necessary. Come and help weed, plant, dig, or sow, all are welcome. How long you stay is up to you. If Michelle Mick is not at the flagpole, go around the corner, in the Library gardens, next to Door #2 or near the retention pond (with the fountain).

Faculty and Staff Appreciation Sign Up

Fall at MPA is filled with traditions…the first day of school, picture day, after school sports, that first missed homework assignment and Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week. Help the PA keep the tradition of supporting our faculty and staff by donating snacks and beverages during this busy week. They’ll be available all week for staff to grab at their convenience. Donations can be brought to your assigned drop off door during morning drop off (LS, MS, or US). To sign up, click the link below:

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F084DACA622A5FB6-fall1

Remember to bring a mask to all events! Hope to see you there!


Coming Home To MPA

Heads Messagefrom Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Love Actually is one of my favorite movies. I love the opening scene of the movie, which takes place in Heathrow Airport in London. As pictures of families greeting friends and loved ones at the arrival gate are shown, the British Prime Minister, played by Hugh Grant, provides the following voiceover:

“It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there: fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

It sounds cheesy and idealistic but I do agree that love is all around us if we are willing and able to see it. I often share that the best part of my day is greeting students at the front entrance of the school each morning. It’s somewhat like the opening scene in “Love Actually” but instead of an airport arrivals gate, it’s like the front door of a home. Home. A place of comfort, love and belonging, of family. For so many of us, MPA is much more than a building or a school. We come together around a common set of values and beliefs as well as a passionate commitment to educate the whole child. Read More


Preparing Students For A Future That Is Difficult To Understand

Katie murr teaching upper school social studiesTo cultivate right makers, you need teachers who are able to connect deep content knowledge to the real world in ways that implore students to use it for good. Katie Murr is one of many exceptional teachers at MPA who have the ability to do just that every single day.

Katie was raised by two public school teachers, including her mother, who holds a Ph.D. in microbiology, and she was immersed in their careers. “They firmly believed in the power of knowledge as the path toward a more meaningful and impactful life,” Katie explained. Never intending to teach, Katie’s early aspirations led her toward law or politics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She interned for Paul Wellstone and worked primarily on education policy. “I came to realize that politics is not the place to change education. The classroom is.”

Looking back, Katie now realizes that she was destined to be a teacher. “I always really liked teachers, probably because I wanted to be one whether I knew it or not,” Katie reflected. She attended Eagan High School where two teachers truly inspired Katie—they were known to her at the time as Mr. Vergin and Ms. Kunze, both of whom are now her colleagues at MPA. Early in their careers, they taught Katie social studies and world language, and coached her in debate and speech. “Mike taught me everything I know about patience and evaluating information critically. And Kari is one of the finest educators I’ve ever known. You learn just by being in her presence.” Read More


Maintaining The MPA Experience

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

It always seems as though the battery on my cell phone is running low. Maybe it’s because I have an older model, or often forget to close apps and plug it in. It is probably the combination of all those factors, although I often blame it on Waze, a crowd-sourced GPS traffic app I use every day that requires a great deal of power to operate.

I think we can all agree that the last 18 months of the pandemic have drained our collective batteries. COVID-19 has been like the Waze app—always open, always draining, hard to close down. Similarly, political discord, social unrest, racial tension, and climate events have also acted like apps that are constantly open and continually draining our reserve. My kids chastise me to close out my apps when I am done using them. (I wish they would do the same with their dirty dishes!) I have decided to follow their advice. Instead of allowing the pandemic to dominate my home screen, it will become just one of many apps on my phone. We must take COVID-19 very seriously, to be sure, but we must also move forward.

That said, our priority is to be on-campus for in-person learning all year. While we are carrying forward many lessons learned during the pandemic, we know how important it is for students to bring their whole selves to school each day. The Minnesota Department of Health (and all available public health guidance) agrees that the benefits of being physically present in school are significant and creating conditions that help safeguard in-person instruction is a priority.

We’ve designed our plan with the MPA mission in mind. Not only are we committed to keeping in-person learning available to students, but we know that preventing on-campus spread may help to reduce the amount of community spread within the Twin Cities. We want to “do right” by doing our part. Layered mitigation remains our shared responsibility: symptom monitoring, prompt reporting of symptoms and exposure, minimizing gatherings and travel, and higher risk activities (particularly for the unvaccinated) in addition to masking, hygiene practices, enhanced ventilation, onsite testing, and the variety of other strategies we have successfully employed during our COVID response.

Thanks to our shared commitment to all of our recommendations and guidelines, we’ve been able to not only have students be in person and learning with their teachers and classmates, but they’re experiencing all that an MPA education has to offer including safe athletics, robust support services, continuity of theatre classes and curriculum, resumed music education, clubs and activities, and a return to many on campus events.

We should celebrate our community’s commitment to vaccinations: 97% of eligible students and 98% of eligible adults have been fully vaccinated. Once vaccines become available for younger ages, which may be much sooner than we thought, we strongly urge parents to seek vaccines for those under 12 as well. When that occurs, we look forward to relaxing a number of protocols that are currently in place.

Read More


Upper School Division News

from Mark Segal, Upper School Director

According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), “a recent U.S. Surgeon General report indicates that one in five children and adolescents will face a significant mental health condition during their school years.” Those who suffer from these conditions may face barriers to their learning or social-emotional relationships with peers and their school. The Surgeon General continues that, “key responsibilities of schools include creating a safe and nurturing school environment, supporting the physical and mental health of children, fostering their social and emotional well-being, and being prepared to address teen suicide through effective communication and support.” The Mounds Park Academy faculty prides itself on building strong relationships with their students, knowing their students well, and being prepared to support students as they make their way through the adolescent developmental journey.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shared last August that social media platforms saw a significant increase in COVID-19 materials and information and misinformation left adolescents exposed to associated challenges. The NCBI says that “the social media infodemic has been linked to anxiety, feeling powerless, and catastrophizing situations.”

This past Tuesday and Wednesday upper school students participated in the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. MPA students received psychoeducation about the signs of suicide and how to help someone who may be having difficult thoughts or feelings. Students also completed an eight-question screener to identify those who need immediate assistance. This is the third time that we have partnered with students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin River Falls Psychology program. They met with students individually throughout the day and contacted parent(s)/guardian(s) of those who needed additional support and provided referrals to some for outside care.

Offering this support system at MPA provides students with the opportunity to engage openly in conversation and find important resources rather than face a stigma that may exist. These supports foster stronger and more authentic relationships which, in turn, allows students to see greater success in their academics and social connections.
I look forward to seeing you on campus soon,

Important Information

MPA Covid-19 Symptom Response
As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we ask for your diligence in working with our Covid-19 symptom response and contact tracing team. At the first sign of symptoms, parents should complete the daily AUXS app symptom screening and/or email covid@moundsparkacademy.org. When a negative Covid-19 test is required for student clearance, results must be provided prior to the student’s return. All symptomatic community members, regardless of vaccination status must remain at home pending those results. Thank you for your partnership. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Rogers at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org.

Looking Ahead

  • Tues, 9/21: SOS Screenings, 9th grade and new 10th grade students
  • Wed, 9/22: SOS Screenings, 9th grade and new 10th grade students
  • Thurs, 9/30: Upper School Conferences, 4:00 – 7:00 PM, via Zoom
  • Fri, 10/1: Upper School Homecoming BBQ & Bonfire, 5:00 – 8:00 PM, Benz Courtyard
  • Sat, 10/2: Homecoming, all day, on campus
  • Wed, 10/6: Class of 2022 Cum Laude Induction, 7:30 AM, location TBD
  • Thurs, 10/7: Upper School Conferences, 4:00 – 8:00 PM, via Zoom
  • Fri, 10/8: No Classes, Upper School Conferences, 8:00 – 4:00 PM, via Zoom
  • Wed, 10/20: No Classes, Fall Break
  • Thurs, 10/21: No Classes, Fall Break
  • Fri, 10/22: No Classes, Fall Break


Middle School Division News

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School Director

Growing More Comfortable MS News
As we find ourselves in Week 5 together, we are learning more about each other and our needs, limits, and boundaries. As I have shared with all of you, it is important that middle schoolers feel safe to push boundaries and test limits (it often feels like it’s their job most days!) and it’s also important for them to realize that their actions, words, and habits impact those around them. We are working, diligently and often, to reinforce what it means to be back in school together, as an entire middle school, grades 5 through 8, and conduct ourselves as the caring, compassionate, and academically motivated students we all aspire to be.

As I make my way to each grade level and aim to set expectations, I would appreciate your partnership in reinforcing some fundamental commitments that we hold at MPA in the Middle School:

  • Every student’s learning is important. And it is not acceptable that one’s student’s behavior hinders their own learning and/or the learning of others.
  • Students should arrive to class on-time, prepared, with all materials required to be a fully present and active participant.
  • Students will respect all other human beings and expect respect in return.
  • Language that is insulting, demeaning, hurtful, and disrespectful is not acceptable at MPA.
  • Physical contact that harms another student, intentional or otherwise, will not be tolerated.
  • Teachers are leaders in the learning environment, and they deserve respect.
  • Poor choices, inappropriate behavior, and not following directions can, and will, result in consequences, including detention, a conversation with parents, and removal from privileges.
  • We are a community, and we all rise by being the best version of ourselves we can be.

I want to acknowledge that, for many of our students, the last 18 months have completely up ended our routines, our work, our learning, and our comfort in being together. It will take some time for us to settle in and come to honor the community expectations we have set forth. I hope you will join me in sharing these expectations with your student and welcome the invitation to partner with me, and your student’s teachers, to help them realize their full potential.

A Reminder: Middle School Dismissal 
I am, so far, grateful for the ease and efficiency with which we are dismissing at 3:00pm in the West Lot. A few reminders to keep us moving and allow all of us to get to our next destination safely, and in a timely way:

  • Please do not stop along the curb near the busses to allow your student to enter the car. I ask that you pull around to the curb close to the building to keep cars from backing-up on Larpenteur and/or in the driveway.
  • I am always, very lovingly, encouraging your students to “hustle” to get into the car and keep things moving. I don’t do this to be hurtful, but rather because I realize that many times folks are on their way to the next thing, and we need to keep the line moving.
  • I also appreciate everyone staying in the car line (unless parking and waiting outside the door, which you are welcome to do!) and not “leap-frogging” or “budging” ahead in the line.

Finally, while I know there can occasionally be issues that hold us up as parents and we get to school a bit late, we are beginning the practice this week of taking all students not picked up by 3:15pm upstairs to either Study Hall or Panther Den. Our dismissal staff and faculty have meetings after school and cannot be downstairs waiting indefinitely. We also cannot leave your Middle School student outside to “wait” for you without an adult. Please make every effort to be on time unless you have previously determined that your student is going to Study Hall, Athletics, or Panther Den.

If you run into an issue and cannot make pick-up time, please call the office before 2:30pm and let us know and we will send your student to Study Hall or Panther Den.

Mrs. Lassonde and the Middle School Office
Mrs. Lassonde is available by email at jlassonde@moundsparkacademy.org and by phone at (651) 748-5565. We need to hear from you if you need an early dismissal or late arrival for an appointment, an absence from classes, or have any other question or concern, please reach out.

Middle School Show–Congratulations To Our Cast And Crew!
We are delighted to begin rehearsals for our Middle School show and congratulate all who were selected as cast and crew members. Please work with your student to know the rehearsal schedule, note it in their planners, prepare and have a plan for pick-up, and communication. Just like sports, students are responsible for arranging transportation, pick-up, and snacks with parents.

If you have questions or need information, please email Ms. Mastel (hmastel@moundsparkacademy.org) or have your student stop by to see her in her classroom.

Parent-Teacher Conferences—Save The Dates
Our PickATime system has been open since last week. If you have not already scheduled conferences and wish to do so, you have until the end of this week. Conference dates are:

  • Thursday, September 30, 3:30-7PM
  • Thursday, October 7, 3:30-8PM
  • Friday, October 8, 8AM-4PM (NO CLASSES)

All conferences are being held via ZOOM and each family is offered the opportunity to sign-up for up to five, 10-minute conferences with their student’s teachers.

If you are not scheduled by the end of this week, you will not be able to schedule conferences for this session. If you need assistance, please reach out to Mrs. Lassonde (jlassonde@moundsparkacademy.org) or call the Middle School Office.

MPA COVID-19 Symptom Response Protocol–Important Reminders
As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we ask for your diligence in working with our COVID-19 symptom response and contact tracing team. At the first sign of symptoms, parents should complete the daily AUXS app symptom screening and/or email covid@moundsparkacademy.org. When a negative COVID-19 test is required for student clearance, results must be provided prior to the student’s return. All symptomatic community members, regardless of vaccination status must remain at home pending those results. Thank you for your partnership. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Rogers at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org.

Planners: Use Them–Check Them–Be Accountable
Student planners were distributed last week, and we have been working diligently on learning to use them consistently, productively, and in a way that supports self-regulation and success. Please ask your student about their planner, ask them to show you their progress, and remember that their planner is their first line of organizational super-power!

Please Send Snacks
Middle Schoolers are always hungry. ALWAYS! And each day, most teachers take time, either during advisory or Block 3, to offer a snack time. For obvious reasons, we cannot provide snacks for all students (allergies, preference, preparation, etc.) but we welcome you to coordinate with your student a snack they can bring to school to give them just enough to make it to lunch.

On this note, eating breakfast is often hard for Middle Schoolers – they are tired, not awake enough to eat, are using every minute to sleep/snooze before coming to school. Especially if your student is not eating breakfast, their snack is ESSENTIAL!

Excellent ideas for snacks include, but are not limited to:

  • Carrots and hummus
  • String Cheese and crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Yogurt tube and fruit (already cut and prepared)
  • Sliced apple and sunflower butter (no peanuts/tree nut butters)
  • Celery and ranch dip
  • Small half of sandwich

On a related note, if your student is staying after school for a sports practice, they also NEED an after-school snack that they may eat in preparation for an hour and a half of activity. NO ONE likes a “hangry” (pre)teen…it would be wonderful if students came prepared for their day not just academically, but nutritionally, as well.

Water Bottles–A Necessity 
A full day of learning is a full day that requires water – PE, academic classes, arts classes, lots of movement and activity! Students need water bottles, and they need to drink water consistently. Please send a water bottle, that can be kept at school, labeled with your student’s name, with them each day. We do not have cups, disposable water bottles, or any other way for student to remain hydrated!

Parent Coffees Coming Soon
I recognize that not being able to be in the building and on campus can lead to feelings of disconnection – it’s difficult for me, too, to not have you with us. Please look for emails invitations in the coming week for Grade Level Coffee gatherings with me – I look forward to conversation, fellowship, and community building with you!

  • Sept 30 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 3:30-7 PM
  • Oct 7 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Oct 8 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 8 AM-4 PM, NO CLASSES
  • Oct 20-22 Fall Break – NO CLASSES
  • Oct 29 End of Quarter 1 – All Assignments and Assessments Due
  • Nov 1 GRADING DAY – NO CLASSES
  • Nov 2 Quarter 2 Begins