The Long-Term Outcome Of An MPA Education

mpa alumni gathered in New Yorkby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I’m one of the few people who actually enjoys painting a room or even a house. Several years ago, we had our 100-year-old house re-stuccoed, which required scraping and painting the wood trim around the windows. In order to save a few dollars, we decided to do it ourselves. More than 30 windows later and a lot of work, the job was done, and the house looked great. Whether its painting, cooking, or refinishing old furniture, I like seeing the rapid transformation of a finished job. In contrast, the work of educating young people is never finished and there are not often opportunities to see an immediate outcome. Read More


The Intellectual Heart Of MPA

Librarian handing book to studentEditor’s note: We sat down with Nancy Lage, librarian, to ask her a few questions about Together, We Dream: The Campaign for MPA and what impact she sees a new library having on our community.

How will the new library enhance your program and better meet your students’ needs?
The new library will impact our program by providing students more flexible spaces for multiple age groups to learn and collaborate. These spaces can transform how we all work together as a learning community. There will be an expanded technology infrastructure for interactive instruction as well as designated spaces for evolving student artwork and exhibits. A modern and developmentally appropriate children’s room is being designed and inspired by nature. Several of the reading and research spaces will have comfortable seating, natural lighting and individual study spaces as well as a conference room and access to the adjoining outdoor courtyard—all of which will enhance school-wide literacy, activities and events.

What part of the new space are you, as an educator, most excited for?
The library is the intellectual heart of MPA; the primary foundation for knowledge, stories and skills. Moving the new library to the center of the school makes the entire design very exciting to me. Not only will it offer easy access to students, faculty and families, but it will be infused with fresh spaces that provide students a place for personal reflection and self-awareness through literature and knowledge.

How will this library make dreams come true?
The inspiration for this new library began many years ago. To see it happening is truly a dream come true for me, and for so many community members. I am certain that this new library will enrich students’ experiences and encourage life-long learning and the exchange of ideas. My sincere hope is that it will continue to meet the changing needs of the MPA community now and in the years to come. Everyone is welcome to join in the dream!

Honor where we’ve been. Power our way forward. Make a gift at moundsparkacademy.org/donate/together.


Inspiring A Playful And Joyful Performance

families view art at lower school art showby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

It is difficult to be thinking about spring while a snow storm is bearing down on us and we are all enjoying an unexpected snow day. However, spring is my favorite season for many reasons. One of which is the Lower School Art and Music Show. Slowly, over spring break, the gallery and halls of MPA come alive with beautiful works of art created by our Lower School students. Ms. Rossbach works throughout the break to carefully curate and present their art thoughtfully and enchantingly. If you have walked the halls this past week or so, I am sure you will agree with me that it is magnificent.

The theme of this year’s show is inspired by the music of the Beatles, envisioned and interpreted by our very talented Lower School students. Art teacher Karen Rossbach and Music teacher Mari Espeland have yet again collaborated magnificently—as they have for more than 33 years—to integrate art and music, inspiring a playful and joyful performance that cannot be matched elsewhere.

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Summer Enrichment with Mr. Purdy

Lower Schooler in science classroomLearning should truly be a magical, creative, hands-on process. “The Science of Harry Potter” summer enrichment class does just that and is the perfect vehicle for what Mr. Purdy likes to call “Imaginerring”—the joy of combining science and imagination. In class, you will use science and your imagination to create a Golden Snitch catapult, use chemistry to brew magic potions, create Troll Bogey magnetic sand, and so much more. Get ready to bring science to life! This class is for grades two through four, and will be held June 17-21, 10:40 AM-12:10 PM.

When it comes to teaching and learning, no one puts it better than Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series when she says, “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy.” In the “Let’s Make a Mess” summer enrichment class, we will do just that. If we can make it goop, platter, foam, pop, or fizz we will. Besides having a lot of fun getting messy, we will learn the science behind what makes it pop, fizz, splatter, and foam. Students in grades kindergarten through four are welcome to enroll in this class, and it will be held June 17-21, 9-10:30 AM.

Visit moundsparkacademy.org/summer to sign up for these fun summer enrichment classes!


From the Board’s Perspective: Sharing MPA

Students posing togetherby Beth Finch, Parent of Alumni, Current Parent, Trustee

As someone who has spent the past 20 years in education from starting a school to working to close the achievement gap in underserved neighborhoods, I am somewhat of an education fanatic. I have travelled the country observing the impact of high performing schools. I understand the importance of quality programming, strong teachers, and a talented leader to successfully operate and deliver great outcomes for kids.

When exploring Mounds Park Academy for our three children nearly 11 years ago, expectedly, my school evaluation rubric was activated. With our youngest graduating next year, I now reflect on how fortunate we have been to call MPA home.

Through the years, I have looked for opportunities to share our love for MPA with others. When we approached our neighbors, Sally Doherty and Karen Weiss, about considering MPA, there was no hesitancy in affirming our MPA allegiance. However, Sally had worked closely with a local superintendent providing pro bono financial and general management assistance. She asked all the right questions and had her own very thorough questions and process. Karen and Sally engaged with Dr. Hudson and the leadership team to come to their own unique reasons for choosing MPA—but that all began with our recommendation.

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Two Seniors Far Surpass Previous Bridge Record

Gabby Law and Henry Peterson with their bridgeA story of creative risk-taking and turning challenges into opportunities.

Fifteen sticks of basswood, a tube of glue, a bunch of instructions, guidelines, and some hints: these are the only materials given to students in Upper School physics for the infamous Bridge Project. The students have four weeks to build a bridge that will hold the most weight possible and garner votes for craftsmanship, creativity, realism, beauty, and best name, before putting the bridges to the test.

“I’ve been doing it since the mid-nineties,” says Marc Shapiro, Upper School physics teacher. “I do it because it’s a great way to apply things that we have learned during the first semester of physics. It’s a new, different kind of project than any other thing that we do, and we get to learn about structures and forces along the way.”

This year started out like previous years, with the students hard at work on their bridges. After the bridge testing, however, it was clear that something special had happened; two MPA seniors, Gabby Law and Henry Peterson, set an outstanding new record that would go down in MPA Bridge Project history as the bridge that held the most weight. Their bridge weighed 21.05 grams, and held an astonishing 319 pounds, which was 6,900 times its own weight. The previous record held just under 2,400 times its own weight.

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Spring’s Impact On Learning

upper school students outside for biology classby Renee Wright, Lower School Director

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

The March break stimulates thoughts of spring in Minnesota, stirs up feelings of excitement, and renews the soul. Spring has always been my favorite season, marking the end of a brutal winter and the transition into warmer temperatures. As a child I watched for puddles to appear and looked for the first sighting of a robin or baby bunnies or ducklings in our backyard as a sign that spring was on its way. Spring seemed so mysterious to me as a child, and as an adult I continue to feel the same. The transition from winter to spring magically transforms nature, which impacts the human spirit. Read More


Summer Enrichment With Ms. Koen

Middle Schooler in woodworking class“Look what I made in the workshop!” and “I’m excited to design my own project!” will be regular phrases said by students who take Ms. Koen’s Beginning Carpentry enrichment course this summer. In Nuts and Bolts: Beginning Carpentry, students will learn how to safely use the tools and materials in the Makerspace, while creating a game or toy of their choice.

Students in grades 1-4 will start the week by using the scroll saw to create a wooden toy, while students in grades 5-8 will build a step stool, bird house, or tool box. Both age levels will have the opportunity to design and bring an idea to life.

The Lower School class is June 17-21 from 9 AM to 12 PM, and the Middle School class is June 17-21 from 1 PM to 4 PM. Space is limited, so visit moundsparkacademy.org/summer to sign up to secure your spot today!


What Students Discover When Learning By Doing

French immersion iterm group in quebecby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

For most Middle School students, this week is their favorite time of the school year. It is i-Term, a signature MPA program that offers students an intensive learning experience in a single class that aligns with their interests and fuels their passion for learning. For some, it primarily means a week without homework and without grades. For all, this inquiry-based, experiential learning experience reflects a core attribute of an MPA education that has been with us since our founding 37 years ago.

Inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and service-learning are relatively new terms in the educational world and seem to be in vogue as schools look for creative and innovative ways to more fully engage students in learning. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation defines project-based learning as “an instructional approach that addresses core content through relevant, hands-on learning—challenging students to solve ‘real world- problems.” According to the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington, “Service-learning refers to learning that actively involves students in a wide range of experiences, which often benefit others and the community, while also advancing the goals of a given curriculum.” Read More


Creating The Future

Nick, Andrew, and Alex LarsonA Message From MPA’s Board Of Trustees 

by Matthew Larson, MPA Parent, Board Treasurer, Board Chair-Elect

MPA’s faculty and staff are creating and nurturing our children’s dreams and providing the skills and mindsets it will take to fulfill them every day. Our school’s mission is held in deep regard and is sincerely felt throughout its classrooms and hallways. The future spaces and opportunities that Together, We Dream will create will be game changing for our students, faculty, staff, and entire MPA community. If I may speak on behalf of the MPA Board of Trustees, we believe Abraham Lincoln said it well: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Read More