We’re Number One!

students celebrating our rankingby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

For most of our school’s history, MPA was considered the best-kept secret in the East Metro. Our humble beginning led to an institutional humility that while we enjoyed great success, we were a bit hesitant to say that too loud or too often. That humility was one aspect of MPA that I clearly identified with, personally and professionally. The lack of a sense of entitlement and elitism at MPA is consistent with the admonishment of my parents “to let my actions speak louder than my words.” However, when words and actions do align, people begin to take note and affirmation and recognition soon follow.

Such was the case last week when MPA received news that our school is now ranked #1 among the 62 private schools in the state of Minnesota according to Niche.com and #60 among 2,525 private schools in the United States. Many of you are probably familiar with Niche, an online, crowd-sourced review of schools, colleges, and neighborhoods. Built upon the reviews and recommendations, Niche also incorporates quantitative data in making their determinations. Read More

Thriving In Class, On Campus And At Home

ms. Murr teaching her hybrid classAt the front of her hybrid classroom, Upper School history teacher Katie Murr sits facing her physically-distant classroom of students faces, in person and on screen. Behind her, the virtual students’ faces are also projected on the whiteboard to face the rest of their peers. The room is equipped with an Owl Pro speaker and a brand new mobile screen to keep her virtual students connected in the classroom, even from home.

Though the class is physically in two places at once, the student experience remains whole. In a recent classroom discussion about the presidential and vice presidential debates, students on campus and online popcorned their way through their thoughts and questions. At each hand that was raised, Katie listed who was next in the discussion queue. “It feels ‘normal!'” Ms. Murr remarks. “It’s working, because I can still enable an engaging discussion.” Read More

Not Obstacles, Opportunities

kindergarten exploring in the new gardenby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Over the summer, a transformation took place at MPA. A little known and underutilized courtyard tucked away between the Lower School and our new Martin Lenz Harrison Library became a magical garden of discovery and joyfulness. What was grass is now a place where students can witness the growth and life, get their hands dirty, reconnect with the earth, and enjoy the bounty of fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Each section of the garden is marked by hand-painted stones with the name of the plant in English, French, and Spanish. The garden is the realization of a vision shared with me by Lower School parent Michelle Mick. Together with husband Tim, children Isaac and Freya, Chef Doug, Upper School student Samantha Forgosh, Class of 2019 alum Jaeden McFarland, and grounds staff Andy and Josh, Michelle created this charming and enchanting space for all to enjoy.

Fast forward to this week when the Lower School gathered virtually to launch CHAMP for the 2020-21 school year. In case you are not familiar with CHAMP, it stands for Character Happens At Mounds Park. CHAMP is a time-honored program wherein a character trait is chosen to explore with students throughout the school year in the classroom, in special assemblies, service-learning, music, art, and drama. This year’s theme, perseverance, is particularly relevant given the challenges presented by the pandemic. Read More

Girls Tennis Scores Upset Win in Section 4A Tournament

Girls Tennis Team Sitting on CourtsCongratulations to the Girls Varsity Tennis Team for upsetting the #4 seed Southwest Christian High School in the opening round of the Section 4A tournament. The girls won in a thrilling 4-3 victory. Check out the recap from Coach Slachta.

We had an exciting, entertaining and intense match against a strong and higher seeded team from Southwest Christian. Freya Rahm (#1 singles), Gabbi Magistad/Maggie Fritsch (#1 doubles) and Alina Ramirez/Mariana V. (3rd doubles) all put up hard fought battles in their respective positions but were denied a victory leaving Team MPA down 0-3.

With 4 remaining positions out on the court Team MPA needed to go four for four to secure a win. Meera Jain came up big at #4 singles with a convincing win (6-2, 6-3, by far her best effort of the season!) to make the team score 1-3. Meanwhile the dynamic duo of Soumya Raman/Nellie L. (#2 doubles) were in a heated battle and prevailed with a 6-2, 7-6 victory. Read More

Growing In Unexpected Ways

Ishika and other students playing charadesby Ishika Muppidi, MPA senior

Ishika spent her summer with Breakthrough Twin Cities (BTC), a local organization closely partnered with MPA. Breakthrough is a challenging academic enrichment program for highly motivated, under-resourced students, where all the teachers are high school and college students.

I chose to get involved with Breakthrough for a number of reasons, one being that I had heard of it from a variety of different people. I thought it would be a good way for me to see what being a teacher felt like, as that’s always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve had such good experiences at MPA with my teachers and I wanted to be able to give similar experiences and support to other students. When I was in Mexico, my options were limited because I wasn’t fluent in Spanish, so I couldn’t really join any programs that allowed me to help younger students, and I often just ended up helping my peers. I had a lot of fun, but when I came back and heard of Breakthrough, it was an opportunity for me to do what I hadn’t been able to do before. I’ve always loved helping people, even with the smallest of things, and Breakthrough allows me to do that with those who really need it. Read More

Fostering Essential, Independent Thinkers

third grader working hands on in the classroomby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently stepped into a third-grade classroom and taught a lesson on fractured fairy tales. Students were learning about the essential elements of good writing—the setting of the story, the plot, and point of view. By placing the traditional fairy tale of the “Three Little Pigs” in the context of the culture and geography of the Southwest, students critically analyzed the text and discussed the writer’s choices. By asking questions such as the significance of a house made of tumbleweed instead of straw, saguaro instead of sticks, or an adobe house instead of a brick house, they also were learning the important skill of critical thinking.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve written on two particular weighty issues: antiracism and civil discourse. What is common to both topics is critical thinking. The work of dismantling racism depends on the ability to think critically about what laws, cultural norms, and policies perpetuate racism. Likewise, critical thinking is fundamental to civil discourse by insisting that ideas, opinions, and beliefs are both intellectually grounded and evidence-based. Read More

RSVP To Discover Something Remarkable

4th Grader Studying Butterflies in CourtyardYou and your entire family are warmly invited to attend the MPA Preview on Sunday, November 8 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 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 17 of our state-of-the-art spaces.
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Brave Space

ms. murr's Upper school social studies classAt this moment in our nation’s history and in the midst of vitriol and violence, I’ve found inspiration in poet Micky ScottBey Jones in her call to create “brave space” where healing can take place in the midst of caring community. At MPA, we seek to build a brave place where students are known and valued and together create a space where we treat each other with kindness and respect. In brave space, students learn to truly value one another and work together to make room for diverse perspectives.

At the same time, we are bombarded day and night on social media and the news with the bitterness of socially and politically charged messages that rend rather than mend the fabric of our society. The political and cultural polarization, already exponentially widening, has only been accentuated by the pandemic. Searing language and personal attacks that characterize contemporary political debate, are words contrary to our school culture. In the lexicon of our Lower School, they certainly would not be CHAMP behavior.

Respectful and constructive civil discourse is at the heart of our democracy. Students develop knowledge, skills, and civic responsibility when they are invited into conversations that are emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, and relevant to their own lives. As the election heats up and the first debate among presidential candidates approaches, we must recommit to ensuring brave space by grounding ourselves anew in our long-standing school policies of respect and respectful discourse that flow directly from our mission and values. Read More

Antiracism Action Group Established At MPA

upper school literature class in discussionOn the morning of Saturday, May 30, I awoke very early, with only a few hours of sleep and with great sadness. The explosion of anger and frustration manifesting in peaceful protests juxtaposed with the violence and destruction across Minneapolis and the nation the night before was hard for me to fathom. In the months since then, the murder of George Floyd and other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have prompted both dangerous civil unrest and peaceful protest and brought to the forefront systemic racism embedded in our society.

In my Panther Post message the following Thursday titled “Turn To The Voices Of Our Students,” I wrote about the inspiration I found in our students, particularly then-junior Salmah Elmasry. Elmasry issued a call for action, “We are in a particular position that requires us to be active and not to be reluctant. To advocate against these issues publicly. If we display any reluctance, we will only continue with the status quo and allow all of these issues to perpetuate.” I spent much of the summer struggling with my personal role in fighting for racial justice and, as leader of an institution, what MPA must do to dismantle systemic racism in our school and in our society. Read More

MPA Talks Features Garseng Wong ’11

MPA Talks speaker Garseng Wong '11Meet MPA Talks speaker Garseng Wong ’11! Garseng attended MPA from grades 4-12 and went on to study Human Biology at Stanford University. He concentrated on nutrition and chronic disease management and initially thought about working as a primary care physician to continue this interest, but during his time in medical school at NYU, pivoted to psychiatry because the field afforded him more time to get to know patients deeply and personally. He is currently a resident psychiatrist at NYU and hopes to specialize in child-adolescent psychiatry, focusing his work with queer youth and young adults long-term. Get to know more about Garseng before MPA Talks on September 30 with the Q&A below!

What will we learn from your MPA Talk?
In my MPA talk, I would like to compare and contrast mental health as it is portrayed in the media and discussed in the lay public versus our conceptualizations as a profession. I hope to offer a space to discuss and de-stigmatize mental health, and introduce skills and ideas for maintaining mental health as students progress through school and develop as young, independent adults.

What do you believe will be the greatest challenge our current students will face in their lifetimes and how do you see MPA equipping them to face that challenge?
Our society has become extremely polarized to the point where communication between people of opposing ideologies often become shouting matches without any exchange of ideas. This is worsened by the growing sentiment against evidence and the blurring of “truth.” Our students will have to become effective communicators with those who do not share their point of view in order to advance in their lives and careers, especially for those who hope to tackle our nation’s (or world’s) great challenges. I see MPA equipping students for this future by introducing them to big, controversial ideas early and asking them to consider issues from multiple perspectives. Read More