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


MPA 8th graders building their future cityThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the December 9, 2023 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

At MPA, we wholeheartedly embrace STEAM. From utilizing Design Thinking in the Makerspace, to challenging students to find reliable information from reputable sources for research projects, rigor in STEAM takes place PreK-12. Across all of the STEAM fields–science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics–MPA teachers are using their disciplines to provide academic challenges to students seeking it out.

As society increasingly focuses on STEM subjects, many of the careers of our future may in fact be in those areas. The National Science Foundation is reporting that STEM careers jumped from 21% of the workforce to 24% in just ten years, between 2011-2021. But how do STEM subjects in school apply to everyday life? Through rigor with purpose and the holistic approach to education in which MPA was founded. This is what truly prepares our students for the future. Read More

Environmental Chemistry In Action: A Field Trip To The King Power Plant

Field trip to Kings Power plant
Ms. Sullivan’s chemistry class recently ventured to the Allan S. King Power Plant in Marine on St. Croix. In their current unit on atmospheric chemistry, their studies delve into the intricate world of indoor and outdoor air pollution, including sulfur dioxide’s and nitric oxide’s role in acid rain formation, particulate matter, and more.

The class’s discussion naturally extended to the crucial topic of climate change, investigating its implications, and alternatives to fossil fuel usage. This field trip was a real eye-opener for students, offering a tangible connection between the discussion and theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom and its real-world application.

One main focal point of their excursion was to explore the cutting-edge technologies being used to remove sulfur dioxide, nitric oxides, and particulate matter at the King Power Plant and discover what makes it stand out among coal-burning facilities. Students had learned about these technologies in the environmental chemistry course, and even used stoichiometry calculations to determine how much calcium carbonate is needed to neutralize the sulfur dioxide that comes from burning coal in Minnesota, exemplifying the future-forward philosophy that is heavily integrated within MPA’s education.

Walking through the plant, students not only witnessed advanced environmental technologies but also engaged in conversations with the plant manager. These discussions provided insights into the career and economic implications of transitioning to renewable energy sources, reinforcing the vital link between science and society.

What made this experience even more remarkable was its origin—a chance encounter during parent-teacher conferences. Nick Martin, a parent who works for Excel Energy, noticed information about Ms. Sullivan’s atmospheric chemistry unit displayed on the board. Intrigued, he extended an invitation for MPA students to witness these concepts in action. Learning extends beyond the classroom at MPA, and the active involvement of our community members adds a unique dimension to the educational journey.

The King Power Plant, though set to discontinue coal usage by 2028, will be repurposed into a distribution hub for solar energy and other renewables. This aligns seamlessly with the class’s discussions on the evolving landscape of energy production and the imperative shift toward sustainability.

This field trip served as an invaluable opportunity for students to witness the practical applications of their academic pursuits. By experiencing firsthand the environmental technologies at play and understanding the broader societal impacts, they gained a deeper appreciation for the pivotal role science plays in addressing pressing global challenges.