Reflections From Parents Of The MPA Class Of 2024 Lifers

Class of 2024 graduatingParents of Lifers are those who chose MPA for their children every year for all 13 years of their education. Right before they graduated from MPA, we interviewed the Class of 2024 Lifers in a group reflection on their MPA journeys. After hearing their touching reflections, filled with gratitude for MPA, advice, and optimism for the future, led us to further expand on the conversation to their parents.

How has MPA’s community supported and shaped your child?

Lisa (Nora ’24): For my kids, I think the opportunity to do a substantial amount of fine arts. They both played in instrumental groups as well as choirs. Athletics has been just a great opportunity–one child did three sports and the other did two.

Katie (Ben ’24): It’s being able to do everything. I felt a fair amount of pressure in high school–which happened to be public high school–and I thought I got a really fabulous education, but I had to do more picking. It was kind of like, “Well, you’re either devoted to this program or you’re going to be devoted to this program.” And I feel like Ben has gotten an opportunity to do a lot of different things. There’s flexibility and a willingness, too. That’s helped make him more well-rounded. In other places, he would’ve dropped off some of these things and really lost out on what is going to end up being life-changing, and now things that I would’ve never imagined him continuing to do in college, he’s going to try to continue to do in college.

Mike (Molly ’24): Being a younger sibling and the kid of an employee, Molly doesn’t remember ever not coming here. She was carried here certainly before she was walking. In her particular case, the community shaped her even in all the time she wasn’t yet a student here. It’s the place where she was always known and looked out for. We’ll take a lot of what happened outside the classroom as much as anything would happen inside.

Mark (Hunter ’24): I think the size. Hunter had the opportunity to do pretty much whatever he wanted and it was good to know that people are always looking out and saying, “Keep moving forward,” because I know kids can get lost in the shuffle.

Jeremy (Jay ’24): Jay’s been able to do so many things. A lead in a play, choir, jazz band, and multiple sports. I always tell him being able to be a big fish in a little pond sometimes is a good thing, because you get to be able to try everything. That has been very special here, those opportunities.

"MPA sets everybody up for success when they're younger. Everybody's happy and willing to help out, and I think the structure that he had here is going to help him later on in life."Kristi (Jay ’24):  The opportunities he’s had across the board. I don’t think he would’ve been in a school play if he was at a different school. And selfishly, I already knew that there were outstanding teachers here–some of them that I had!–so I knew from the get-go what he was getting into and how it was going to help him flourish in school, because I feel like that’s a huge piece too–knowing how supportive and invested all these outstanding teachers are. Read More

Reflections From The MPA Class Of 2024 Lifers

The Class of 2024 Lifers then and nowNear the end of their final year at MPA, we had the honor of interviewing many of the MPA Class of 2024 Lifers about their time at MPA, the only school they’ve been at for their entire academic career. A group of dedicated athletes, talented musical artists, Peer Leaders, and proud self-proclaimed robotics “nerds,” each of them shared memories and reflections of MPA past and present, looking toward the future well prepared by MPA. Devneet Biring, Jay Green, Greta Hanson, Sylvia Hawley, Micah Hudock, Khushi Jain, Else Kunze-Hoeg, Logan Miller, Ben Murr, Nora Pederson, Hunter Scheible, David Steinberger, and Molly Vergin will graduate on June 8 and join MPA’s Joanne Olson Club, reserved for students whose entire K-12 or PreK-12 journey has taken place here at MPA.

Choosing a school for 13 years means you’re growing up within a strong community that ensures every child here is known. So we asked: How has MPA’s community supported and shaped you over the years?

Jay: Everything I do pretty much revolves around sports, so what’s been really helpful for me is the community. If I’m in the hallway and I see a parent or a teacher, they always ask me how my game was, and that’s something that I really have enjoyed in my time here because it makes me feel seen. That was very consistent from even when I was in kindergarten, just playing in gym class versus now, when I play three sports at a time. That’s something that’s shaped me into a better person. I think now my focus is trying to give that same opportunity to the younger kids that I see and am coaching. I think the community does a very good job of supporting everyone in it. From my perspective, I feel like I’ve been very well-supported by pretty much everyone around me.

Khushi: I agree with that. Being both a tennis athlete and a nerd in robotics has pushed me to do more of what I love. Through tennis, I’ve learned more about myself, about mental health, and other things. Through robotics, I’ve learned how to be a leader, how to speak up, and how to get the team together. Through all these different clubs and activities that MPA has, I’ve learned different skills from each.

Micah: There are a lot of people who have a lot of different interests in a lot of areas. Everyone’s kind of encouraged to do their own thing and have their own interests, and no one is trying to fit into a category. Everyone’s cool to do whatever they want.

Ben: Elaborating on that, I’ve really enjoyed being able to know my class. To actually know people—having a small, very close-knit group—has really helped us understand each other on a deeper level than just, “There’s a person from my class in the hallway.” I find that nice.

“There's definitely no other school where I could be in three choirs, in three different bands, and then also play three sports throughout the year.” -Jay Nora: I like how integrated everybody is, whether in sports or other things. For example, in basketball, we did this kid’s camp with the boys’ and girls’ teams where we got to work with Lower and Middle School students, so now when I see them in the hallway I can say hi. And with different classes like choir and orchestra, you get to know people in all grades. With track, since it’s a co-ed sport, I get to talk and know people that I wouldn’t normally. It’s just interesting knowing more than one grade.

Sylvia: The relationships we’re able to build are pretty unique to this school because of the small class sizes. Throughout all my years here, I think all the teachers really make an effort to build a relationship outside of the classroom, to know you on a more personal level. That has allowed me to feel comfortable sharing non-class material with them and getting to know them as people. I think that has shaped my love for learning but also made me want to do more. Read More

Community Meets Experiential Learning

Upper school student working with lower school student on STEM projectThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the April 11, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

Earlier this week, we celebrated the solar eclipse with a day of cross-divisional activities, STEM education, and a community-wide viewing. Upper School students transformed the Family Commons into a space laboratory and spent the morning leading Lower School students through experiential activities that explained the science behind the eclipse and why it was such a phenomenon. Students rotated from station to station where they were taught the physics of the eclipse, experimented with black lights and photons, demonstrated the movements of planets, and practiced safe viewing with their eclipse glasses. They were over the moon, pun intended, to learn from their older peers who engaged with them in a way that defines our PreK-12 school.

The sense of community here not only creates a safe, inclusive environment for our students and their families–it extends to supporting lifelong learners on their journey of a joyful education. The laughter echoing through the Family Commons was heard throughout the school, and the look of pure awe on our littlest Panthers’ faces was not just for the phenomenon in the sky; they were looking up at the leaders of the student body, and at their own future at MPA. One day, perhaps for the next eclipse years from now, they will be the Upper School students leading the way and providing new Lower Schoolers with these memorable moments at school.

Even though we couldn’t see the eclipse through cloudy skies, what we did see was a PreK-12 community, gathered in joyful excitement to learn and be together.

Introducing The Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning

Heads message from Jennifer Rogers-Petitt, director of development and community engagement

Editor’s Note: Periodically, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from members of the administrative team. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

From an early age, I loved stories. I would make them up for myself at playtime. When I began to devour them in books, I couldn’t put them down, and when I started to write down the fantastical comings and goings of my active mind, I never wanted to stop. As I’ve gotten older, had children, and experienced the highs and lows that life offers, I’ve continued to go back to the stories that have opened my eyes, inspired my heart, and made me think. As a fundraiser, I witness the power of our personal and collective stories every day when:

  • I hear from an alum that their appreciation for MPA grows the more they experience in life;
  • I hear from parents about their journey to MPA and their hopes and dreams for what it can offer their children; and
  • I hear the joys and wishes of our faculty and staff as we dream about continuing to do right by our mission and the children in our care.

When I first came to MPA, my own story unfolded: someone not from Minnesota who had never experienced the independent school world and a fundraiser who had always wanted to be thoughtful about how I approached my work. Throughout my career, I have witnessed that if we dream big, tell stories, and stay true to our mission, we will once again spark the beautiful generosity of our community. I’ve now had six years of seeing that generosity come to life at MPA in so many ways: our incredible Family Commons and Martin Lenz Harrison Library, new tools and technology for students, a renovated outdoor track, new scholarship opportunities, COVID crisis funding, underwriting our diversity equity and inclusion initiatives, an innovation fund for teachers, and now, the Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning. Throughout it all, I have talked with hundreds of community supporters and heard and shared stories of our collective impact through these funds.

Read More

Ten Things To Consider When Choosing A Private School

9th graders doing a physics experimentThe arrival of spring brings a new season to all private schools all around the country–admission season! Here at MPA, decisions are released on March 29 and the enrollment deadline quickly follows on April 12. This means families are currently facing a decision, and sometimes that decision can be difficult. So with the help of our community, we collected a list of ten things families should consider when deciding on a private school.

1. Your Community
When choosing a school, you’re not looking for a community just for your children, but for yourself and your entire family.

The MPA community is robust, and each and every child is known and valued. We are built upon shared values and firmly committed to freethinking, collaboration, diversity, and connection. “We love the connectedness, the openness of the community, and the personal attention for our children,” said MPA Middle School parent Isaac McBrrom. “It seems the school really knows them as individuals.”

He also noted how the strength of the MPA community is rooted in character development, one of the fundamental aspects in our educational philosophy and in the curriculum, PreK-12. “The world does not run on math and science alone. Understanding world issues, and how to connect to others with empathy and understanding will hopefully lead to a more fulfilling life,” he reflected.

2. The Pedagogy
MPA’s highly rigorous education does not challenge top students by piling on busywork, nor does it take away support and individual attention from a teacher, but rather by promoting and instilling a deep understanding of what they are learning. We deeply value purposeful academic rigor in a hands-on, experiential, college-prep environment.

Upper School parent KiJuan Ware is elated to see his daughter enjoying this type of learning environment at school, finding the balance of academics and extracurriculars, and constantly trying new things. “The Makerspace is where she is hands-on, doing what she wants to free her mind,” he said. “There’s a lot of discovery when it comes to learning, and homework reinforces comprehension.” Read More

A Vibrant Place To Learn And Grow

students learning to surf in Costa Rica during itermThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the March 10, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

In and beyond the classroom, MPA students are inspired to pursue their aspirations with confidence and curiosity.

Last week, Middle School students embarked on Innovation Term (i-Term). This signature MPA Middle School program offers students a learning experience like no other in a single class of their choice. One week long and entirely ungraded, this is inquiry-based, experiential learning that far exceeds what can normally happen in the classroom. Some chose a French immersion experience in Quebec City. Others observed biology in Costa Rica. No matter which class they choose, students in small, mixed-grade classes go out into the world, work with subject-matter experts, and ignite some serious passions along the way. Read More

If This Is What Matters To You, You’ve Found The Right School

kindergarten celebrating 100th day of schoolThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the March 1, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

At this point in the school year, you may be anywhere on your journey to MPA, from first discovering who we are to making an enrollment decision. You’re probably wondering, “Why do families choose MPA?” Here are just a few of the reasons why students PreK-12 thrive at Mounds Park Academy.

MPA academics are demanding–not draining.
In PreK, our youngest students are digging into a dinosaur fossil lesson to explore how the biology and science of the world in the past influences the future. In their senior year, advanced physics students are venturing out into our community to address problems, and then designing, engineering, and manufacturing 3D-printed tangible solutions. Academic rigor with purpose grounds MPA students in the radical idea that their identity in the world is not measured by a test score, but rather by the depth and decency of their impact on the world.

MPA values collaboration over competition.
Students work together in an environment of support and encouragement where teachers are partners on the journey. Meaningful relationships culminate in the Upper School and last a lifetime. “Within my first weeks here at MPA, I was exposed to a learning environment where people were supporting each other instead of competing with each other,” says MPA alum Ella Jones ’20. “Through discussions with my friends, I have learned more about the world and its political issues in just a year than I had in the first 16 years of my life.”

MPA makes learning joyful.
Creating and nurturing a joyful learning environment is at the heart of MPA. Days at MPA are filled with wonder and exploration that comes with hands-on learning. We believe education is not only about academic achievement but also the holistic development of individuals. Infusing education with joy contributes to the overall well-being and mental health of students. Joyful learning spurs creativity and critical thinking, and MPA students are engaged and enthusiastic to think outside the box, ask probing questions, and seek innovative solutions.

If this is what matters to you, you’ve found the right school.

Being An MPA Student Is…

MPA students working together in a small groupThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the January 27, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

Being a student at MPA is a lot of things.

It’s being part of “A generally really diverse, inclusive environment. I fit in like on day one.”

It’s also a place where you will find “Words of encouragement, even when I didn’t really think I needed it,” and opportunities that make you think, “This experience has just made me a much more confident speaker and critical person.”

And even in addition to all of that, it’s “This safe, nurturing, supportive place where I could really explore and learn so many new things.” Read More

A Day In The Life Of An MPA Student

Two students working togetherThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the December 20, 2023 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

What is a day in the life of an MPA student? What do they learn? Where do they study? How do they feel?

To answer all of the above and more, we invite you to join us for the opportunity for to experience life at MPA. Our PreK-12 Preview on January 25, from 8:30-10 AM, gives an inside look at MPA on a school day. This is the perfect opportunity for your family to see yourselves here at MPA. Experience the comfy, cozy library spaces, the Makerspace as bright as your ideas, and the wide-open, welcoming Lansing Center. Your family will be led on a tour by community members and experience delightful surprises that make MPA so special along the way. In addition to exploring our state-of-the-art spaces firsthand, you will also meet the people who make our community the family that it is.

At the Preview, you will discover something remarkable–the type of learning that MPA students do each day. If you have any questions, contact the Office of Admission at 651-748-5577 or We hope to see you there!

Transformative Initiatives And Compassionate Support

As Mounds Park Academy continues its commitment to providing a holistic and supportive learning environment, the recent addition of Jeanne Doyle as our Lower School Counselor brings forth a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives. In a recent interview, we explore Jeanne’s initial impressions of MPA, her unique insights, and the innovative programs she has introduced to enhance the Lower School experience.

In your experience, how is MPA different from other organizations you’ve worked for?

“One amazing, unique quality I noticed about Mounds Park Academy right away is that Dr. Hudson truly knows every child’s name! He knows and cares about each student and each MPA family. His love for the children is so genuine. If I were a parent of a child at MPA, this depth of care from the top would be so reassuring to me. As a counselor, I appreciate that feeling seen, known, and loved can foster a strong sense of self-worth in children. Everyone wants to belong in their community. This level of care is echoed throughout the teaching faculty and the staff at MPA, and that is truly a hallmark of our school. Read More