Congratulations Ms. Pederson!

Lisa Pederson head shotLisa Pederson, MPA’s Director of College Counseling, has been named one of the twelve recipients from across the country of the 2021 Counselors That Change Lives Award! This honor is given by Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL), a non-profit organization dedicated to the ideal of a student-centered college search.

Ms. Pederson was nominated by Jill Sauber, Associate Dean of Admissions at St. Olaf
College. “Lisa does not hesitate to recommend colleges based on the best fit for her students rather than those that are based on ranking. I have witnessed the research she does for her students, the insightful questions she asks when on counselor tours, the subtle pushing she does to college reps to get honest answers and a true understanding of the institution,” says Sauber.

Ms. Pederson shined in this spring’s challenging circumstances. Sauber recalls, “When high schools pivoted to distance learning last spring, I heard from numerous families at Mounds Park Academy that Lisa made their seniors feel recognized, appreciated and celebrated from afar. They praised her for the ability to handle the changes positively and thoughtfully.” Read More

The Strength Of MPA Is In Our People

Mr. Peterson Teaching Middle School mathby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“Welcome back to campus!” I said this morning as I greeted a Middle School student on their way into school. “What are you more excited about, being back together with your friends or seeing your teachers in person?” I asked. He paused for quite a while, pondering the rather unfair choice I was asking him to make. However, his response was emphatic, “Both!” Asking such a question of a Middle School student can be rather risky, but I wasn’t surprised with his response. The strong, personal relationships students have with their teachers is a hallmark of MPA.

MPA is incredibly fortunate to have an exceptional faculty who are genuinely dedicated to their students and truly committed to the school. Most teachers remain at MPA for their entire career and we all benefit from their experience and wisdom. At the same time, we’ve had teachers who experienced life transitions that took them in different directions, whether a move to a new city or sometimes experiencing a change in career. Enrollment, program changes, and external factors may also impact our faculty workforce. For instance, our COVID-19 health and safety plan led us to hire several additional teachers and teaching assistants to reduce classroom density. Read More

Invite A Friend To Preview

Middle school student wearing her mask correctlyAt Mounds Park Academy, we seek free-thinkers, free-spirits, risk-takers, right-makers, dreamers, and doers. There’s likely someone within your community who was made for Mounds Park Academy, someone whose mind calls for our type of education. Please consider inviting them to discover something remarkable at MPA’s final virtual admission preview of the school year on Sunday, January 31 at 2PM.  Register here.

The most important way that new families come to our school is you, and reaching out to deliver a gentle nudge is the most effective way to recommend MPA. Sharing your love of MPA with those people is, by nature, a generous act of kindness—you are helping the prospective family find a wonderful school community and a second home. We hope that you’ll email an invitation to a colleague, nudge your neighbor, or share information with a family and friends. Click here to read about how the Rengstorf Family shard MPA with their friends!

Breakout Sessions at Preview

Bringing Amelia Earhart to the Makerspace
with Scott Wilson fourth grade teacher and Nicole Koen, Makerspace Coordinator
Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Koen will lead a short lesson on the story of Amelia Earhart and then use the principles of design thinking to create a flying machine that accomplishes challenge tasks like landing on a target, flying through a target, and maintaining flight for three seconds. Families are encouraged to watch the activity and learn about the overall process from the lesson, and then build their flying machine at a later time.

Keep It Up!
with Mr. 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 to participate!

Break A Leg: Middle School Theater in Action
with Heather Mastel, Lower and Middle School drama teacher
At the foundation of theatre are three “actor tools” – your body, face, and voice! Join us for a low-risk intro to middle school theatre, as we put these tools to work. After a quick stretch, we will create frozen statues/tableaus and super-short scenes!

Is Math Made Up?
with Chris Peterson, Middle School Math Faculty
Middle School mathematics students often wonder how the math in their homework ever came about and why it is the way it is. In this session, learn how math is all around us as Mr. Peterson answers the important question, “Who made up math, anyways?” Discover how key concepts in Middle School math were first shared with the world and the history and genius behind them.

An Interdisciplinary Approach To American Studies
with Ms. Katie Murr and Ms. Sara Mohn, Upper School history and English teachers
Ms. Murr and Ms. Mohn will take students through a poem and images to explore the different identities of our nation. The poem and images will open up discussion for how our nation has defined itself across the years.

The Newtonian Physics of Rotor Design
with Marc Shapiro and Hannah Sullivan, Upper School science faculty members
Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Sullivan will lead participants through a lab activity demonstrating the active approach to Upper School science at MPA. Together, we will explore the properties of rotors, improve rotors design, and explore the scientific process. This activity is taken from the 9th grade physics curriculum and is part of our study of motion, falling objects, and Newton’s Laws. Participants will need paper, scissors, and either paperclips, a stapler, or Scotch tape.

Virtual Preview Breakout Sessions Unveiled!

Second Grader in the MakerspaceMPA’s Winter 2021 Virtual Admission Preview is almost upon us, and today, we are unveiling the six fantastic sample classes that prospective families will experience as part of this event!  From adventure in the Makerspace to frozen tableaus to Newtonian Physics, discover what’s remarkable about an MPA education.

In addition, meet the MPA community during a panel with Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School, Alex Appleton, Grade 10, Yamini Kimmerle, Lower School Faculty and Current Parent, and Jenny Portis, Class of 2016.

Lower School

Bringing Amelia Earhart to the Makerspace
with Scott Wilson fourth grade teacher and Nicole Koen, Makerspace Coordinator
Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Koen will lead a short lesson on the story of Amelia Earhart and then use the principles of design thinking to create a flying machine that accomplishes challenge tasks like landing on a target, flying through a target, and maintaining flight for three seconds. Families are encouraged to watch the activity and learn about the overall process from the lesson, and then build their flying machine at a later time. Read More

Net Promoter Score At An All-Time High

middle school student in math classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

We begin a new year with new hopes and resolutions and with optimism that the end of the pandemic is in sight. We begin a new year complete with new understandings of ourselves, our family, our society, and our values after an extremely challenging year. Our task will be to take what we have learned, put it to good use, and work for lasting change.

You may remember that in December, parents were invited to participate in our annual Net Promoter Survey. I was more than pleased with the incredibly high level of participation—a whopping 78% of our parent community completed the survey. If you are familiar with the Net Promoter Survey, you know that is commonly used in business to measure customer service. Similarly, MPA uses the Net Promoter Survey to measure parent satisfaction and solicit feedback for use in continuous improvement in order to make data-driven decisions. The survey and score is also important because word of mouth referrals are the greatest source of admission inquiries and the best predictor of new enrollment. Read More

Boeder Risner Family Featured in Lake Elmo Magazine

Check out this wonderful feature on the Boeder Risner Family in the December 2020 edition of Lake Elmo Living Magazine! Adi Boeder Risner graduated from MPA in 2002, and after meeting her husband Kyle in Colorado, returned to Minnesota so that her children could attend MPA! “We wanted Luke and Levi to attend the same K-12 (now Pre-K-12) that I attended during my childhood. We chose Lake Elmo because of the unique homes, the privacy, history, and South Lake Elmo is located right between Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul and my parents’ place in Hudson,” she says.  Article by Allison Lund-Zalewski, photos by Hilda Berdie Photography. Read More

Peacefully Working Through Our Differences

Katie Murr's US History Classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As I was putting the final touches on my original Panther Post message yesterday afternoon, news broke of the violent protest in Washington DC and the storming of the United States Capitol. The peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of our democracy. In the days, months and even years ahead, our nation must engage in serious reflection of who we are as a democratic society. How long can we say, with any sense of integrity, that this is “not who we are” before we must admit that this is who we are.

However, I am an eternal optimist and believe that American democracy is resilient. To me, it makes the case that education is important more than ever. Critical thinking, nurturing student voice and agency, character development, and civic engagement and responsibility are all antidotes to discord, division, and violence. These are important attributes of an MPA education. For instance, quite organically, 40 Upper School students joined a Zoom call last night under the guidance of several Upper School teachers who provided a context for students to think critically about the unfolding events in the context of civic responsibility. Read More

Evan Esch’s Baseball Commitment

The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2021 member Evan Esch’s Senior Speech.

Evan Esch Pitching for MPAPlaying one of America’s greatest pastimes has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. When I was younger, baseball was always the most fun and something I’d look forward to in the summer. Being an athletic kid, it came particularly easy to me. I was fast, I could also hit the ball pretty well, and I was exceptional at catching and throwing. On top of that, I’m a lefty, among the most desired traits in baseball players. As I continued to progress through youth baseball, my team won a lot of games and tournaments. We had a great coaching staff that was knowledgeable and brought tremendous energy. They really wanted us to succeed. However, when high school came along, and the pressures of the recruiting environment began to ramp up, my relationship with baseball began to change.

Being noticed as a high level baseball player in Minnesota was great, it felt affirming to be one of the best. However, it sometimes made me complacent. That complacency was, at times, detrimental to my game because it made me too comfortable. It was easy to do things that came naturally to me, and they fulfilled me in the short-term, but looking back, I realized I did not accomplish much in those comfortable times. Read More

A First Grader In A Rock Band?

Eloise tries the CelloHow many seven year old kids can say they play in a band?  First grader Eloise can! Through School of Rock in St. Paul, Eloise plays the keyboard, performing hits with her band like “Great DJ” by the Ting Tings and Janelle Monae’s “Dance Apocalyptic”.  “​I like working with a group to make music and getting to know new people and I like my teachers,” says Eloise. “They make playing music together fun!  I really like learning new songs and chords. I like to find notes on the keyboard that match the song and rhythm.”

Eloise’s introduction to piano came about serendipitously.  Last year, she signed up for music lessons offered by MPA senior Skylar Cernohous, a member of the class of 2020 who now attends the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University.  As part of her senior service project,  Skylar gave weekly 30 minute piano lessons to seven MPA students in kindergarten, first, and second grade.  “My experience with music helped influence the project. I was in four music classes at MPA and spent a lot of my time with music . I’ve played the piano since I was in first grade, so I wanted to give other children the same opportunity to start young. Piano has been a huge part of my life. Read More

Finding Light, Warmth, Joy, And Growth

Fourth grader sewing annual mitten projectby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

In a few short days, the winter solstice will be upon us. Literally and figuratively—a few short days. Monday will be the shortest day of the year, the longest night, and the first official day of winter. The increasing darkness over the last several months has resulted in six additional hours of nighttime. Darkness seems to have also crept into our psyche as we experience the impact and uncertainty of the pandemic, the economy, and the social and political discord. A long winter break is needed now more than ever.

The heaviness of the dark is coupled with what seems to be more anxiety, more stress, more work, and less time to unwind. It has been proven that we have more time for leisure than we did 50 years ago, and it doesn’t seem to be any more relaxing, in part because of the pandemic, the fuzzy line between home and work, and the disintermediating effects of our screens. According to behavioral scientist Ashley Whillans, emails, texts, and social media aren’t just eating 10% of our free time—they’re fragmenting it into tiny pieces of “confetti” that we can’t enjoy. Whillans recommends blocking out uninterrupted time for leisure, just as we do for deep work. (You might enjoy Whillans’ article “Time Confetti and the Broken Promise of Leisure.”) Read More