Opportunities To Connect And Volunteer Virtually

middle school students reading notes of thankfulnessWe’ve heard from many families in recent weeks as we’ve planned for and unveiled virtual learning. One theme that keeps coming up is that MPA families want to spread the joy and love they have for school, while supporting teachers who are working hard to continue meaningful education across divisions. Sign up today to become a volunteer. Here is a sample of some of the ways you can get involved!

  1. Guest lecture: Share your knowledge to students of all ages by becoming a guest speaker during one of our live class sessions.
  2. Support recruitment: Sign up to have a virtual conversation with a prospective family.
  3. Spread the MPA love: We are gathering families willing to help with care packages, family meals, write letters to families or others in need.
  4. Build a virtual community: Sign up to be a host a for a virtual family gathering with other MPA families. We know physical distancing is important, but let’s make sure our social connections remain.
  5. Stay social: Social media engagement is more important now than ever. Follow, share, and like on all MPA social media platforms.
  6. Support virtual learning: Help us ensure parents and students have support at home to continue their education by becoming a tutor.
  7. Help teachers and parents provide STEAM activities at home: If you have a background in science, engineering, computer programming, or the arts, connect with us about how to create video content for students of all ages.
  8. Share your knowledge: Parents with a background in health care, education, or knowledge of public health and pandemics could share their knowledge during upcoming parent education events.
  9. Be a Buddy: Join our network of Buddy Program families to connect with new families and help them navigate their transition to MPA.
  10. Donate: Your support helps us to navigate the challenges we face and to fill the gap for families, employees, and expenses associated with our virtual learning implementation. Your gift today will support our Community Care Fund means Panthers can stay connected, continue to learn, and that everyone has the resources they need for a meaningful education during this time of uncertainty.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org or 308-765-0524.


The Power Of A Great Teacher

MPA virtual upper school classby Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

Great teachers make great online teachers. By now, you’ve read or heard me say that repeatedly over the last several weeks. To be honest, other than a few scattered snow days over the last several years, my assertion was more conjecture than evidentiary. However, after several days this week, I know this to be true. Because I know each teacher well, I knew in my heart but I now have proof that MPA teachers are great no matter the platform or medium.

It has been an incredible experience, working together with teachers, staff, and administration, to make the transition to virtual school. Through caffeine, adrenaline, and sheer will, we powered through to rise to the new challenge before us without doubt or hesitation. Frankly, there has never been another option. I didn’t realize this until I received a parent email with the following observation: “In corporate terms, this scale of change would have been vetted and pressure-tested through strategic planning process over a period of months, perhaps a full year’s planning cycle.” The can-do spirit of MPA has inspired us all. Read More


MPA Goes Virtual: Isak Dai

isak daiThis story series illustrates how our community is embracing, growing, and connecting through virtual learning together. Read on to see what MPA junior Isak Dai looks forward to as #MPAgoesvirtual!

While virtual learning may look and feel different than a regular school day, Isak breaks it down in a way that makes it feel very familiar, even away from campus–to him, virtual learning is “bundling up the work we do at school and doing it at home through the internet.”

“Before our current situation, we certainly were practicing some aspects of virtual learning by accessing online resources like Schoology, but now have been forced to take all of MPA online,” he said. “My hope is that through this challenge we can learn to take advantage of the many virtual learning resources at our disposal and take these lessons with us when we eventually return to school as usual.” Read More


MPA Goes Virtual: Kaija Kunze-Hoeg

Kaija Kunze at a volleyball gameThis story series illustrates how our community is embracing, growing, and connecting through virtual learning together. Read on to see what MPA sophomore Kaija Kunze-Hoeg looks forward to as #MPAgoesvirtual!

Kaija tells us that she is excited to try this new style of learning. “To me, virtual learning is a new, innovative take on what a classroom looks like,” she says. “I expect to have to learn to focus harder as I will have more things that can distract me when I am learning from home.”

Knowing this may be a challenge for her, Kaija is preparing to set up her workspace to help her stay on task and continue achieving academically. MPA recommends starting with a quiet, well-lit area with strong Internet connection and a clean, clear working space to continue joyful learning away from campus. “I am going to try to make my at-home ‘classroom’ pretty close to what it would be at school so I can feel more engaged in my classwork,” she says. “I will use a desk, but it will just be more cozy.” Read More


Kindergartners Discover The Joy Of Learning

ms. Petersen working with two kindergarten students in classAt Mounds Park Academy, a private school in Saint Paul, the words “kindergarten” and “joy” are inseparable. And it doesn’t matter who’s describing the experience. When asked what she loves about teaching kindergarten, MPA’s Kristine Petersen said immediately, “Pure joy!” While Petersen didn’t specify if it was her joy or that of her students, it’s clear from a parent’s feedback that it’s both.

“Our daughter seems so committed to school because of her joy for it, which is the goal. She not only believes in the joy of school, but she trusts in the joy and excitement Ms. Petersen brings to learning and to the classroom!”

Introducing Mounds Park Academy’s Interdisciplinary Approach in Kindergarten
Educational experiences are more authentic and of greater rigor when students learn through an interdisciplinary approach—it is deeper and more reflective of the real world. Interdisciplinary teaching helps students make connections among math, science, social studies, language arts, and fine arts, integrating knowledge and increasing student engagement.

MPA introduces its interdisciplinary approach in kindergarten in an age-appropriate way. When students study the letter “R,” for example, they might complete a mystery puzzle revealing a rabbit by following teacher directions and coloring a mystery grid. The teacher references shapes such as triangles, diagonals, and rectangles as part of the directions. The students then create a math problem with the puzzle. Read More


Why Interdisciplinary Education Works

upper school students having social studies class discussionby Mark Segal, Upper School director

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

When I was in second or third grade, I defined mathematics as something I did daily from 9:45–10:30 AM. My focus should have been on the addition and subtraction problems written on the blackboard or mimeographed handout, but instead it was on the upcoming recess where my friends and I played competitive games against one another. Educators rarely explain to students and parents why the school day is designed as it is. It should be no surprise then that students and parents look at the arbitrary divisions for English, math, reading, social studies, world language, science, art, music, and physical education and begin to define the subject areas as separate bodies of knowledge with little connection to one another.

As I moved into middle and upper school, the subject matter separation became even more noticeable as the academic areas were forced into independent time frames taught by individual teachers. It is no wonder that many middle and upper school students (including me 35+ years ago) complain that school is irrelevant to the larger world. In the real world, we do not wake up in the morning and do social studies for a specified time block. Over time, adolescents begin to recognize that in “real life” we encounter challenges and situations, gather data from a number of resources, and problem solve to generate solutions. The fragmented school day does not reflect this reality. Read More


A Very Sweet Community Collaboration

Chef Doug with the lower school students and maple syrupLocated right outside the kindergarten classroom door is a grand staple of the playground that provides so much for our campus–a shady spot during Summer At MPA, colorful leaves to play in throughout autumn, and a steadfast symbol of growth. MPA parent and volunteer Michelle Mick, a passionate gardener and extraordinary green thumb, and her family set out to tap the only maple tree on MPA’s campus.

Michelle guest-taught a great lesson with the kindergartners, which included hanging a bucket up under the spout to collect the tree’s sap. This week, three Lower School students had the honor of presenting the tree’s recent production–two containers of clear, watery liquid–to the entire Lower School student body at their Monday Morning Meeting. Read More


Cultivating Conscious Leaders

upper school students leading a discussion in classby Tiffany Scott Knox, MPA Board of Trustees Member

Architect. Physician. Entertainer. Professional athlete. Astrophysicist. President of the United States. Children have big plans for what they want to do when they are adults. As parents, we’ve been given the tremendous responsibility of raising the next generation of leaders—our job is to encourage, guide, and nurture their dreams. I remember the late great Whitney Houston, bellowed, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride to make it easier…” I now realize that is more than ‘just’ a song. An important piece of the puzzle is selecting an educational journey that is conducive for cultivating conscious leaders while preparing and equipping students for the future.

My husband, Clarence and I, are fortunate to be ambassadors of MPA which provides us the opportunity to share through our role as proud parents and members of this great community. We selected MPA because of that sense of community, belonging, and values that are omnipresent. For us, it is imperative that my child is seen, valued, and heard—and in a safe learning environment. Read More


Providing Our Students Safety And Confidence

upper school students working together in the study roomsby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. The summer I turned 16, I was a counselor at a Boy Scout camp in Michigan. I asked my dad to drive up to camp so I could go to the local office and take the written and behind the wheel tests. I passed both with flying colors and achieved this important milestone of adolescence. Please note, this was not much of an accomplishment as the population of the town where I took the behind the wheel portion of the test was just under 2000. Given how important it was for my friends and me to drive, it has surprised me that more and more students in high school these days don’t have, and are not in a hurry to get, their driver’s license.

There is some very interesting quantitative research conducted on generational differences that explains this anecdotal observation. According to professor of psychology and author Jean M. Twenge, today’s young people, who she calls the iGen, are growing up slower than previous generations. Accounting for 24 percent of the population of the United States, iGen are those born between 1995 and 2012. Examples of this phenomenon are that they are less likely to: Read More


Ways Of Seeing

middle school students observing science experimentby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

My mother had cataracts surgery today. Although I’ve known about the condition for years, I found myself researching its causes and treatment, happy to find that the procedure is both common and safe. In conversations with my mother, I asked how it affected her and the way she sees the world, the challenges she faces navigating her daily routine, and the limitations of poor sight. I am grateful for the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers who care for my mother so that she can once again see the world with clarity.

I have long believed that the power of education is to help young people see the world in new ways. Inspiring literature, the beauty of mathematics, the magnificence of science, and the beauty and depth of the arts, provide students multiple ways of seeing themselves, others, and the world around them. Education is much more complex than simply imparting knowledge and skills. It is accompanying students through a challenging and sometimes uncomfortable process of fostering a growing awareness of themselves and their own agency. Read More