Meet Joan and Kevin Frankel!

the frankel familyWhat do you love about MPA?
We love the small class sizes and the individual attention our children get from their teachers. Because of the small class sizes, the teachers really get to know our kids’ strengths and weaknesses and focus on improvement. We also love the fact that our kids are encouraged to participate in arts and athletics and not solely focus on academics. We believe this is important for a well rounded education.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
At MPA, our children have been encouraged to try new activities they might not have tried if they were at a bigger school. The block schedule in Upper School has also allowed our daughter to take many more electives. This diversity in activities and classes allows them to realize the joy of learning something they may have never thought they could do. Read More

Enriching Our Lives, Starting With One Monday At A Time

lower school warming up at the Monday morning meaningby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Although Mondays can often be tough, attending the Lower School Monday Morning Meeting is a great start for my week. This past Monday was no exception. As I walked into the new Family Commons, I was greeted by the music of Trombone Shorty and the entire Lower School dancing and practicing their body percussion moves for Grandparents and Special Friends Day. It was pure joy and much more effective in waking me up than the third or fourth cup of coffee I was drinking. It had the same effect on other adults in the building as many poked their heads into the Commons as they walked by, leaving with big smiles on their faces. There is something about music that can transform our mood and lift our spirits instantly.

In an era when many schools are cutting their music programs in favor of more time for STEM-related classes, you may wonder why MPA places so much emphasis on music. In Lower School, students have approximately 90 minutes of music class a week. All Middle School students have year-long music or choir, are required play an instrument, and have either band or orchestra. Upper School students are required to have three credits in the fine arts, which includes instrumental and vocal music.

Read More

The MPA Theatre Department’s 2019-2020 Season

Haroun and the sea of storiesThe Theatre Department is proud to announce its 2019-2020 Season. Everyone is welcome to join us for any and all of our productions. Information will go out via Panther Posts as tickets become available for each show throughout the year. Please know, we are happy to help you with accessibility needs for any of our productions.

Students, remember, our department’s goal is to immerse you completely in the creation of theatre–from top to bottom and back to front. You are our technicians, performers, designers, musicians, and writers. If you’d like to get involved, please check out the dates below for auditions and crew sign-ups. Remember, Upper School classes also help with the production side of things, so if that’s of interest to you. Feel free to contact any of your theatre teachers with any and all questions. Read More

Science Shows You Can’t Go Wrong With A Song

lower school girls dancing to the music
Music And The Brain
Music isn’t just something that’s good for your brain—it practically is your brain. Studying music is intrinsically tied to better hearing, speech, memory, reasoning, and emotional development. It lifts mood, builds community, and strengthens confidence. Music matters for long-term physical and psychological wellbeing, and to preserve brain health as we age. In terms of academic success, music education is directly connected to overall student achievement and personal growth, and it plays an essential role in Mounds Park Academy’s whole child, progressive, college preparatory curriculum, PreK through grade 12.

Building Social, Intellectual Capacity
According to recent research conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute, early education in music was shown to accelerate brain development in young children, especially in the parts of the brain that manage sound, language, speech perception, and reading skills. As described by neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster, “music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t … it’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.” Read More

Helping Students Set Goals

middle school student studies a sheet of music in orchestra
Charting A Path In A New Academic Year
In school and in life, goal setting is good. Goals serve as essential mileposts, helping to define pathways and measure progress, and leading to a greater sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction. Meaningful goal setting is particularly important as students start a new academic year, and as they reflect on their priorities, their values, and their signals of success.

Practical Goal Setting and Resiliency
“To narrow and pinpoint reasonable, achievable, and admirable goals for a new year requires both big-picture thinking and ground-level planning,” writes Matt Levinson in Edutopia. He shares a favorite illustration of the multifaceted components for goal setting, explaining that good goals need “boulders (big picture thinking), rocks (the translation of those big ideas), and sand (the execution of the details). Goals that don’t contain all three components are doomed to fall short.” Read More

Welcome To The Family, Ms. Gifford!

Gia giffordMeet Gia Gifford, who will be our new K-4 art teacher. Gia comes to us from Clara Barton Open School, which is a K-8 magnet school in Minneapolis Public Schools. She holds two degrees from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, including a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and art history and a Master of Education in visual arts K-12. Gia has a deep passion for teaching art to elementary and middle school learners. And along with a variety of teaching experiences in diverse environments, Gia is a silversmith who is active in the Minneapolis arts community.

What did you love about MPA right away?
I really enjoyed the MPA staff and the warm welcome I received. I also loved how much the school appreciates the fine arts! Read More

Welcome To The Family, Ms. Lawson!

Hannah LawsonMeet Hannah Lawson, who has been selected as the new director of orchestras and music teacher. Ms. Lawson will join our community and the Twin Cities after eight years of public and private school teaching in the United States and abroad. Most recently, she has been teaching orchestra and general music in Saudi Arabia! She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Music Education from Boston University. We are excited about Hannah’s passion for music, her deep and thorough knowledge of composition and music theory, and her excitement to lead MPA’s orchestras to continued excellence.

What did you love about MPA right away?
How kind and welcoming the faculty was. The progressive mission of the school. I loved that the students had a voice and were able to be apart of the process. I was treated with respect and was not judged for interviewing over Skype for a performance position, which can be difficult.

What’s your big dream?
To be the back up violinist for Dave Matthews Band! Read More

Class of 2019: Mats Dahlberg, Saint Paul

Mats Dahlberg '19As the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I came to MPA in Kindergarten.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Columbia College Chicago because it has a strong dance and visual arts program and they would let me be involved in both. I wanted to go to a college in a city surrounded by a vibrant art scene and so many museums and traveling exhibits especially because I’m studying arts. Columbia is right in the middle of the city on Michigan Avenue and has great speakers and events including some notable alumni.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I’m excited to explore my independence, especially in a new city. I am very excited to expand my circle and meet a new very diverse crowd of people with different viewpoints than I’ve been exposed to. I’m excited to have my ideas challenged and add to my skillset with education from new teachers and more high-level art classes. I’d love to take a printmaking class or a textile and fiber works class, something that I haven’t had the opportunity for at MPA, but have the basic artistic foundation for because of the Fine Arts education here. (And I’m excited to try all the pizza Chicago has to offer). Read More

See Shakespeare & Company This Summer

an image from AFG's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.Ann Frances Gregg, MPA’s Upper School theatre teacher and director, is currently directing “Two Gentlemen of Verona” for Shakespeare & Company in White Bear Lake. S&C, founded by MPA parent of alum George Wade, is an outdoor theatre company, which produces three shows ‘in rep’ each summer. It is the oldest outdoor Shakespeare company in Minnesota. This summer marks the company’s 44th season!

You are invited to bring lawn chairs, picnics, blankets, whatever suits you, and come and enjoy a show on a beautiful summer evening (or not-so-beautiful—shows go on rain or shine). Shakespeare & Company performs on a permanent outdoor stage at Century College in White Bear Lake. Tickets can be bought at the door with cash or check. A show calendar, show information, and directions can all be found here.

Meet MPA’s Newest Faculty And Staff

middle school science classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School 

I consider hiring to be one of the most important aspects of my role as head of school. As a rigorous college prep school, I need to ensure that we have excellent teachers. But because of our mission, we also need to ensure that we have excellent human beings who are going to go beyond the classroom as role models, advocates, and confidants, and even sometimes, act in “loco parentis.” I am continually reminded from my own experience as a teacher that in the long run, students won’t always remember what we taught them, but who we are, how we treated them, and how we made them feel. Early in the hiring process, I make a point to remind each committee that while it is important to fill the position, we are hiring the person first.

MPA has a very rigorous and inclusive hiring process. When an opening presents itself, we first take the opportunity to review the position in light of our mission and the evolving needs of the school. Open positions are then posted both locally and nationally and despite a national teacher shortage, we have had great success in attracting a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates. Each hiring team is led by a member of the administrative team and is comprised of faculty and staff who work collaboratively to screen resumes and conduct a first round of interviews, culminating with a day on campus and a final interview. As a part of their time on campus, teaching candidates actually teach a class and then meet informally with students. We truly value the student perspective and voice in the hiring process. The final decision rests with the head of school, taking into account the recommendation of the hiring committee and the feedback of the students. Read More