Curiosity Continued

upper school science labby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I have often heard that people like to read my weekly messages. That is always welcome news as it can be time consuming and sometimes stressful in the midst of my other duties and demands on my time. However, I truly enjoy the opportunity to reflect on a particular topic relevant to education or taking place in the world and connect it with what is happening at MPA. At times, I am struck by something that happens in a classroom or event that gives rise to a deep appreciation for our exceptional teachers and the unique educational experience provided at MPA.

It is particularly rewarding when something I write resonates with the community. My message two weeks ago, “Cultivating A Curious Mindset,” did just that. Since then, I have had a number of conversations with parents who connected what I wrote with their experiences in the workplace. In a moment of serendipity, Dr. Mike Mercer, Lower School parent of Henry and Charlie, shared that on the day I wrote about curiosity, he covered the same topic with his medical students. He shared with me a very powerful article entitled “Curiosity” written a number of years ago by Faith T. Fitzgerald, M.D. from the UC Davis Medical Center. Read More

Computer Science Education Week At MPA

computer science week at MPAby Ariel Kitch, PreK-12 Technology Integration Specialist

“I made a 12-sided shape!” one of the fourth graders screamed jubilantly while programming a tiny turtle to move in patterns across his screen. You would be surprised how motivating it can be to move the tiny turtle forward with a few lines of Python code, nonetheless create a dodecagon with a for-loop. Our study of Python Turtles in fourth grade is part of Computer Science Education Week here at MPA, a national event aimed at raising awareness of computer science in schools.

We have been celebrating the study of computer science in my technology classes by trying out coding in many different forms, but also through practicing the set of processes referred to as “computational thinking.” Computational thinking acknowledges that computer science is about more than just programming or studying computers themselves (although they are all around us these days)–but about our capability to harness the power of computers to solve problems. Some of the skills of computational thinking, such as persistence, critical thinking, and collaboration, could be simply referred to as “life skills.” Others, such as pattern recognition, debugging, algorithms, and abstraction, help us to structure our solutions to fit the unique strengths of computer processing power. Read More

Spanning Geographical And Experiential Divides

Us history classroomby Mark Segal, Upper School Director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will find a guest blog post here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

Hidden in a corner near the Hart Commons is a classroom that few who are not part of the Upper School are aware of. The location of the room was intentionally selected as it is quiet, out of the way, and allows for small group collaboration for the students who use it as their classroom. Together, students in the room are studying many things including:

  • Architecture from the ancient Egyptians into the 21st century through the philosophic idea that western civilizations have been the primary “drivers of architecture through the ages;”
  • Modern Standard Arabic where they are learning to read and write the Arabic alphabet and developing a proficiency in the language; and
  • The ethics of making decisions by focusing on medical practice, medical research and development, and health care case studies.

The aforementioned students are enrolled in interactive, synchronous courses though the Malone Schools Online Network (MSON) that bring students together with dedicated high school or college faculty from across the United States. Five years ago, Mounds Park Academy joined this wonderful collaborative of independent schools, which offers their students the opportunity to take a variety of courses beyond what normally would be available to them through the most up-to-date video conferencing technology. Building Utopia, Arabic II, and Medical Bioethics are just a few of the more than 30 courses offered through MSON. Read More

College Counseling at MPA: Andrew Guiang ’08 Shares

Andrew Guiang '08MPA’s college counseling process is driven by careful consideration of each student’s unique set of interests, priorities, and aspirations, balanced with an understanding of the current college admission landscape. MPA alumni Andrew Guiang ’08 shares the most valuable part of the college search process at MPA and how it prepared him for his future. Read the Q&A with Andrew below and more about college counseling at MPA here!

Q: What was the most valuable part of the college search process at MPA? What did you appreciate about MPA’s approach?

A: I liked that, at MPA, it’s cool to be smart, and that fact makes applying to college that much easier. I also like that MPA has a good mix of people who stay local or go away for college, which makes the application process less stressful, since there’s no pressure to choose one region over another. Read More

Cultivating A Curious Mindset

Lower school French class making maps of France for geography unitby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently came across an article shared by Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “The Most Important Skill at the Office Isn’t Being Taught in School.” It caught my attention. What is that important skill? The article argues it is curiosity. Curiosity is named by many behavioral scientists to be among the most valuable attributes in the workplace and yet it is not fostered in many schools. In fact, the way in which schools are structured discourages it. It makes sense because so many schools are driven by standardized testing and measure performance solely on test-based standards. Rest assured that is not the case at MPA, and in fact, is quite the opposite.

At MPA, curiosity is not just encouraged–it is expected. Furthermore, curiosity is valued as a mindset to be cultivated in its own right, not just for the workplace, but for lifelong fulfillment. According to best-selling author Todd Kashdan, “Curiosity—a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something—creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy, and delight.” Whether in the classroom, the workplace, or in life, curiosity is essential. Read More

Witness The Impact

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

If you have logged into Facebook or checked your email today, you are well aware that today is Give to the Max Day. Across the state of Minnesota, this day is a celebration of the power of philanthropy to change lives. For MPA, today marks a celebration of our generous donors who are so very dedicated to our students and who believe in making an impact on our school community.

The mission of Mounds Park Academy is vibrant and powerful, delivered by talented and caring teachers, and is having a tremendous impact on the lives of our students each day. Impact means to have a strong effect on someone or something. You share in that impact by the value you place on learning, the investment you are making in the education of your children, and your commitment and support of Mounds Park Academy. Read More

Your Gifts Make Athletics Possible

MPA girls soccer teamThis article is the fifth and final in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

“Healthy mind, healthy body” is an ancient educational theme that celebrates the integration of academics and athletics. MPA has been at the forefront of cultivating student athletes, with an emphasis on achievement and leadership that extends from the classroom to the courts, fields, and stadiums where our Panthers compete.

“MPA’s no-cut philosophy means that we welcome all students and place them appropriately,” explains Dan Haase, MPA athletic director. “Every student who wants to participate is encouraged to take part and then matched to a team that reflects their current skill level. Unlike other schools, we don’t restrict the number of students who can join a team. For example, many schools might limit a basketball team to 12 players. If we have 16 students who want to play basketball, we include them all and work with them to progressively build their skills, whether they’re starting from a novice level or come in with an advanced level of performance.”

With competitive sports beginning in fifth grade at MPA, students have a long runway to grow as athletes. “We ensure that each level of play is developmentally appropriate, and that students are gaining the life skills that sports can uniquely provide,” says Haase. “We engage students early and provide flexibility so they can pursue multiple extracurricular activities. We want them to be well rounded, and to pursue the arts as well as athletics.”

That big picture approach to sports has cultivated high levels of participation and success. With more than 20 Upper School teams, 10 team state championships, and 20 individual state championships, our athletes transform their gifts and talents into everlasting accomplishments.

“Ultimately, our athletics program is student-centered,” says Haase. “We are continuously assessing the opportunities, gauging our students’ interests, and encouraging students to get involved and stay involved throughout their time at MPA.”

Because of philanthropy at MPA, our students develop physically, socially, and introspectively through athletics. Consider making a donation to the MPA Fund during the Fall Campaign by visiting or contacting Susan Robertson, Annual Giving & Alumni Relations Manager, at 651-748-5531. Together, we will raise $300,000 to bridge the gap between tuition and the total cost of educating a student at MPA.

We Dared To Dream

preK student in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

The chair of our recent ISACS accreditation visiting team asked a founding faculty member a simple question: “Is the Mounds Park that exists today the school you envisioned all those years ago during its formation?”

“In many ways it is,” she answered, “But in many more ways, it exceeds what we dared to dream back then.” That single statement represents the hoped-for outcome of the last 18-month process and is at the heart of the report the visiting team wrote. As Head of School, and as a parent, I was overjoyed.

Mounds Park Academy is a proud member of the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS). The purpose of ISACS is to promote the development of strong learning communities characterized by high achievements, social responsibility, and independence of governance, programs, and policies. This goal is achieved through a rigorous accreditation process, targeted professional development programs, and focused support services. In preparation for re-accreditation, we’ve spent the last 18 months reflecting on our mission and program and writing a very comprehensive, 147-page self-study report. Read More

Your Gifts Make College Counseling Possible

college decision day 2018This article is the fourth in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

Think of a list of common fears, and a familiar few come to mind. Public speaking. Air travel. Spiders. And here in Minnesota, an early snow! Another typical source of anxiety is the college application process—a journey in U.S. culture that’s often driven by worries about attending the “best” school, instead of the right school.

Lisa Pederson, MPA’s director of College Counseling, addresses that sense of dread head-on, with compassion, expertise, and a proven program that empowers students to customize their college search based on their unique strengths, interests, and long-term goals. “The best fit for one is not the right fit for the next, even among high-achieving, academically strong, and otherwise talented students,” says Pederson. “Today’s college admissions professionals are looking for the authentic voice in their applicants, not a packaged one that checks every box.” Read More

Learning From Assessment

middle school group in classby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School Director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will find a guest blog post here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

As we approach the ACT Aspire testing in the Middle School, I am reminded that even just the word “assessment” or “test” can bring on feelings of stress, anxiety, or dread. And certainly, there are few conversations that garner more opinions or positions than that of assessment and testing in education. I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I hope is a more robust and thoughtful rendering of assessment and its implications for learning and teaching. More, I want to share with you, fellow parents, some thoughts on how you can be supportive of your students as they move through their educational journey with assessment. Read More