Homecoming Is For Everyone

from Bill Hudson, head of school

The energy in the building has been ramping up all week as we celebrate Homecoming. Students have been enjoying a series of special events, coloring contests, themed dress-up days, and assemblies. In many schools, this is associated with a Friday night football game and alumni events. At MPA, Homecoming is for everyone and is a week-long celebration of affinity for the school that includes all members of the school community—students in grades PreK-12, parents, alumni, parents of alumni, and friends.

For many students, MPA is a second home to them. Throughout the fall, I invite seniors to have lunch with me in small groups of 10-12. Over lunch, I ask the seniors to share their “MPA Moment,” an experience that encapsulates the essence of MPA. Inevitably, they talk about the sense of family they feel, the strong relationships they have with their teachers, and how much they belong at MPA.

Many years ago, I read the book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam. The title may seem strange but bowling alone serves as a metaphor for the loss of community in American society. In the 1990’s and 1980’s, bowling was the fastest-growing sport in the United States, all the while participation in bowling leagues dropped precipitously. Putnam found that fewer people are participating in social clubs, attending church, and even having dinner together as a family. Read More

Your Brain on Art

from Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

Rarely was I more proud of our school than last Thursday. I sat in on the presentation of our Lower School specialist teachers at Curriculum Night.  Our teachers presented the underpinnings of their curriculum with passion and upon a firm foundation of science and best practices.  Across divisions, the MPA curriculum is enriched by a commitment to the arts and a whole child pedagogy.

In an age of high-stakes standardized testing and societal concerns about math and science scores, parents might question MPA’s emphasis on the arts.  I understand the arts at MPA more broadly, including music (vocal and instrumental), visual arts, theater, and even world languages and physical education.  From the founding of the school, the curriculum of the school reflects an intentional balance between academics, arts, and athletics. 1982, our founders knew instinctively that such a balance was vital to developing the whole child. Through new and emerging brain research, we now know that their instincts were correct.

Over the weekend, I read the New York Times bestseller Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross. The authors propose that the arts are not mere distractions but powerful tools for improving our health and well-being across many dimensions of life and with the science to prove it. The arts are vital in relieving stress and enhancing well-being; they help heal trauma, mitigate pain, and help us live not only a healthier life but a longer and more meaningful life, too. Read More

Everything That Is Good

from Bill Hudson, head of school

“Everything that is good in this country, everything that is worthy in this country, everything that is beautiful in this country, begins with a teacher.”
—Kurt Russell, 2022 National Teacher of the Year.

My heart was full Friday afternoon as I looked across the south lawn during our annual Ice Cream Social. Actually, it was bursting, and I likened it to what happened to the heart of the Grinch at the end of the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas”! It was our largest social ever, and seeing students playing with one another and parents and teachers talking with each other on a beautiful late summer afternoon was exceptionally heartwarming. The school year is off to a fantastic start, one of the best in my 11 years at MPA.

This past week, I made the rounds of Lower School classrooms to welcome new students and reconnect with returning students. My visits also allowed me to witness our amazing teachers in action. Watching them is like watching an orchestra conductor who seemingly effortlessly moves from one movement to another while keeping each musician playing in concert with the other. Considering the ages of Lower School students, that is quite an accomplishment! MPA is indeed fortunate to have highly qualified, experienced, and skilled teachers who are also very kind and caring people.

At my nephew’s wedding last May, I caught up with a childhood friend of my nephew’s, a middle school teacher in a suburban school district outside of Charlotte, NC. When I asked him how things were going for him, he casually said he “did a favor for the school” by teaching a class with 70 students because the school district could not find enough qualified teachers. The class is so large that it is held in the cafeteria, and while he has a teaching assistant, the TA spends most of his time dealing with student behavior. Read More


from Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

Daily, I am touched by the kindness of the MPA community. Most recently, the many cards and expressions of care regarding my mother’s death have helped my family and me through a very difficult time. In my experience over the last ten years, I’ve taken kindness for granted at MPA because I see it so often. I see it in the way members of the community greet one another, how students go out of their way to welcome new students, how they clean their tables after they eat, and the respect between adults and students, to name a few.

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness or the lack of it in today’s society. People seem angrier, less patient, more rude, and sometimes cruel. At the grocery store, on TV talk shows, in line at a drive-through, on the freeway, or in restaurants, we seem to have lost our humanity. I worry about the direction our society is heading and have been struggling with what my responsibility is as both an individual and as head of school to counteract these troubling, negative trends. Read More

Welcome Home To MPA

from Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

The new school year is off to a terrific start! To new families, welcome to the MPA family, and I look forward to getting to know you. To returning families, welcome back. Seeing how students have grown and matured in just a few short months is wonderful.

My spirits soared on Tuesday by the enthusiasm and energy of the first official day of school. When I arrived at school around 6:15 AM, I was surprised by the number of cars parked in the north lot. I quickly remembered that our seniors were gathering in the Benz Courtyard to celebrate the break of dawn on their last first day of school at MPA.

There was fantastic excitement on the other side of the building as students bounded into the building with zeal. Their enthusiasm was matched by parents who accompanied their children into the building and stayed for coffee and pastries sponsored by the Parents Association. It was a fantastic turnout and many told us that it was hard to leave the conversation and head off to work.

We have a longstanding MPA tradition of ending the first day of school with an all-employee meeting. I invite faculty and staff to share stories about the day and the mission moments that illustrate who we are. The joyfulness in the room was palpable. Here are a few examples of what was shared that reflect the common values we share at MPA: Read More

Optimism In Education

from Bill Hudson, head of school

As the 2022-2023 school year draws to a close, we find ourselves in that liminal moment where memory and hope intersect. American folk artist, Grandma Moses, called this intersection a “strange thing.” Memory and hope are two perspectives that both exist and are available in the present moment. Memory allows us to look back to recall the events, experiences, and emotions in the past. Hope is directed toward the future with an enthusiastic anticipation of what is to come. While memory is grounded in the present and the past, hope reaches beyond the present and propels us toward the future.

Over the last nine months, we celebrated the loss of teeth; uniforms that fit so well in September that now rise above the ankle; students who stumbled and stammered in front of a crowd now speaking confidently; the screech of a violin bow that now sings beautifully; and seniors who recall the pain and trauma of adolescence in their senior speeches that have been transcended by a newfound sense of self and resiliency. I could go on and on.

Those of us who work in schools forever live in a liminal moment that not only speaks of the growth and development of our students but also of ourselves. Middle School English teacher Maddy Wolfe captures this so beautifully in an article recently published by the National Association of Independent Schools on their Independent Ideas blog. She writes, “When adults share which teachers impacted their lives, we don’t stop and think about it the other way around, too. Students leave marks on teachers’ lives, as well. In many ways, this student embodied the reason why I became an educator: to watch a student’s growth over the course of nine months, when the only thing you can do is marvel at what young adolescents are capable of.” Read More

Honoring The Class Of 2023

from Bill Hudson, head of school

Today is one of my favorite days, a day that embodies who we are as a school community. The entire school gathered for the annual Senior Walk and together celebrated the 60 seniors and their impact on MPA. The joy in the eyes of each student along the pathway, the pride in the eyes of faculty and staff, and the sense of accomplishment reflected in the eyes of our senior class bring tears to my eyes.

I’ve seen countless young people move on from high school to college over the 30 or so years I’ve been a teacher and administrator. Each class is unique and holds a special place in my heart. This senior class strikes me as incredibly genuine and resilient. They have weathered the pandemic, a racial reckoning, and social and political discord. They have prevailed through personal trauma and difficulties and emerged strong and authentic.

The college choices of our senior class are evidence of the uniqueness of each student and the diversity of their interests. Fifty-nine seniors will be attending 39 different colleges and universities in 20 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and Scotland. They have chosen large research universities, public and private institutions, small liberal arts colleges, Ivies, art schools, and women’s colleges. Students will be attending schools in urban and rural locations that are near and far. Read More

Because I Had A Teacher

from Bill Hudson, head of school

“Because I had a teacher, I know how good it feels when someone is happy to see me. I know that I can always ask for help. I feel like I have a friend on my side…Because I had you, I learned to believe in me.” From the book, “Because I Had a Teacher” by Kobi Yamada.

If you are like me, you have a favorite teacher who you continue to hold close to your heart. Mrs. Long was my third-grade teacher and had a tremendous impact on me. I attribute to her my curiosity and love of learning. My parents recalled how I would come home from school each day with a list of what “Mrs. Long said…” I would go on and on at the dinner table with all that Mrs. Long said that day, and 50 years later, I still hold her dear.

On Thursday, May 25, we will honor six members of the MPA faculty who are retiring this year or during the years of the pandemic. Together, they have more than 200 years of service to MPA. It is impossible to measure the impact these wonderful teachers have had on their students. Indeed, they have touched the hearts and minds of so many.

Please join us to honor the distinguished careers of MPA retirees from 2020-2023 at the Mounds Park Academy Retirement Celebration. It has been our tradition to celebrate retirees at a reception at the end of the school year. I know that the month of May is busy, but I promise that you will not regret attending. Join us in the Family Commons and Martin Lenz Harrison Library from 4-6 PM, with a brief program at 4:30 PM. Read More

John Malone’s Impact At MPA

from Bill Hudson, head of school

I just returned from my oldest nephew’s wedding in Charleston, South Carolina, the first in the next generation of my family. It was a wonderful weekend, and I thoroughly relished spending time with family and friends. The setting, a historic building on the low-country shore of Charleston Harbor, was delightful. I also had the honor of serving as the officiant for the ceremony, another first. Despite the many graduations I have addressed and the many school events I have presided over, I was incredibly stressed and nervous.

I also took the opportunity to visit the Porter-Gaud School, an independent school in Charleston. I have become friends with the head of school, DuBose Egleston, and enjoyed spending time with him and his administrative team. I’ve come to know DuBose, and Porter-Gaud, through our shared association with the Malone Scholars Program and the Malone Family Foundation.

The Malone Family Foundation is dedicated to improving access to quality education—particularly at the secondary school level—for highly capable students who lack the financial resources to best develop their talents. Mounds Park Academy is proud to be one of the 48 schools across the United States chosen to partner with the Malone Family Foundation. Since 2012, 15 MPA students have graduated as Malone Scholars. We are incredibly proud of our Malone Scholars and are thankful to call them MPA students. They undergo a rigorous application process and not only persist but thrive at MPA. The Malone Scholarship program is a model we hope to expand so more students can access an MPA education in the coming years. Read More

The Foundation For A Long-Lasting Future

from Bill Hudson, head of school

May is one of my most favorite months of the year (not just because of my birthday!). There is so much hope and promise as the grass greens, trees bud, flowers bloom, and boats go in the water.  Hope and promise are important to us all and spring is a reminder of what can and will be.

Hope and promise are important to institutions as well. Over forty years ago, a group of parents and educators banded together in hopes of founding a new and different school, one built upon an understanding of the whole child. They believed in the promise of each child and knew that education is more than academics and includes the social, emotional, and physical development of a child and a balance between academics, arts, and athletics.

Mounds Park Academy would not exist without the vision of the founding families and the generosity of time and resources of so many through the years who have built our beautiful campus and school community. The hope and promise that led to the founding of MPA were fulfilled through financial gifts to sustain the day-to-day operations of the school and through gifts to capital campaigns to augment and enhance the MPA facilities and to provide scholarships to deserving students. Over the years, some families and alumni have made gifts to the school’s endowment, doing their part to ensure that the school benefits in perpetuity. Read More