A Sense Of Urgency On Give To The Max Day

lower school student building in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I am a procrastinator. A proud procrastinator, no less. It’s not that I am not productive or do not fulfill my responsibilities. I’m not lazy, but I do get distracted. There always seems to be a good article to read that pops up on my newsfeed, a post on Facebook I find intriguing, a conversation to be had with a friend or colleague, or a good book to read. Oftentimes, what helps me most is a firm deadline or knowing that people are depending on me to act.

Today is a deadline of sorts as our Fall Campaign winds down and we celebrate Give To The Max Day, both in support of the MPA Fund. If you haven’t yet made a gift, I strongly encourage you to do so. I feel a particular sense of urgency this year as we together navigate the uncharted waters of the pandemic. The urgency comes as we, the school and parents, join together to ensure our children have what they need to be safe, healthy, and continue to learn and thrive. What I know is that this endeavor costs more—more people, more technology, more infrastructure. Read More


Plan The Work, Work The Plan

ninth grader racing their mousetrap carby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I benefitted from the guidance of a mentor whose mantra was, “plan the work, work the plan”. The constant drumbeat under his leadership helped me develop an appreciation for strategic thinking and long-range planning. Along the way I learned the necessity of looking ahead and the discipline required to achieve progress. Without an end in mind, as Alice learned from the Cheshire Cat, any road will suffice.

Mounds Park Academy has a long history of strategic planning designed to advance the mission of the school and to meet the emerging needs of students in an evolving and increasingly globalized society. Setting the vision of the school and establishing strategic direction are among the most important responsibilities of the MPA Board of Trustees. Our most recent plan, Momentum 2020, guided the MPA community through the last five years and came to an end last May. Momentum 2020 has been instrumental in setting forth a direction and providing strategic priorities that led to the incredible success and growth we’ve enjoyed over the last five years. Read More


You Give Joy

lower school student sliding down the slideby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Life these days seems a little like standing in a dinghy in rough seas, not knowing when the storm will be over. It has been difficult for many of us to get our sea legs, to find our balance. Over the last eight months, I have often felt tossed about in my own little boat, alone and at the mercy of factors outside of my control. The responsibility of reimagining and reopening school safely in the midst of a pandemic at times seemed crushing. Finding balance felt illusive.

And yet each day I spend in the midst of this amazing community is pure joy and offers a renewed sense of purpose. Yesterday was a perfect example. Lower School students gathered virtually for the second time this year to further explore their CHAMP (Character Happens At Mounds Park) character trait for the year, “perseverance”. The theme was brought to life through the delightful new book, “I Promise”, written by LeBron James, and was read to students by the book’s illustrator. The assembly ended with a special chant led by Lower School music teacher Mari Espeland, followed by students making an “I Promise” pledge to persevere through adversity. I was inspired by the students and a specific line from the book, “Get right back up and let my magic shine.” Read More


Classes And Activities Cancelled November 3

Photo of north entrance of school from fieldDue to a water main break, all classes and activities will be cancelled tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3. We apologize for any inconvenience that this creates for your family.

We anticipate that Lower and Middle School will be able to return to their regular schedule on Wednesday, November 4 while Upper School may need to learn virtually through the end of the week due to the location of the water main break. We will update you again tomorrow based on the progress of the repair.

If you have any questions, please contact your division director or email communications@moundsparkacademy.org.

Thank you for your understanding.


Traditions Reimagined

lower school students watching the virtual halloween paradeby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I was at Home Depot a week or so ago with my husband Ross picking up a few materials for a home improvement project we are working on. What was supposed to be a quick trip turned out to be an adventure as he led me on a search for the plumbing aisle. Exasperated (and a little bit irritated) I asked him why this detour was so important. He said he wanted to purchase six feet of PVC pipe for Halloween. Still a bit irritated but now curious, I pressed further. As it turned out, he saw a device online constructed out of PVC pipe that delivers Halloween candy into the bags of trick or treaters while maintaining proper physical distancing. As head of school of MPA, I had to applaud his creativity and adherence to proper health and safety measures.

Like so much in our day to day lives, COVID-19 is requiring us to reimagine just about everything, including Halloween. Hardly a day goes by when a need arises to rethink a tradition, policy, practice, or program. Teachers, students, staff, and administrators have all become adept at holding fast to our traditions and values while at the same time making the necessary accommodations for health and safety purposes.

Our much beloved Halloween tradition, the Lower School Halloween Parade, is the latest example of this phenomenon. It is one of my most favorite traditions for many reasons, not least of all the joyfulness of a PreK-12 school under one roof. It is pure magic seeing the joy-filled faces of the older students and the excitement on the faces of our younger students as they parade through the Middle and Upper School hallways—and to have parents on campus to witness it. Not to fear, a virtual parade of sorts is taking place as adorable pictures of our Lower School students in their Halloween costumes are on display on the many display screens located throughout the building. I’ve seen Upper School students seated to watch the rotation in its entirety—staff too. Click here to see last year’s parade on campus and here to see this year’s virtual version. Read More


We’re Number One!

students celebrating our rankingby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

For most of our school’s history, MPA was considered the best-kept secret in the East Metro. Our humble beginning led to an institutional humility that while we enjoyed great success, we were a bit hesitant to say that too loud or too often. That humility was one aspect of MPA that I clearly identified with, personally and professionally. The lack of a sense of entitlement and elitism at MPA is consistent with the admonishment of my parents “to let my actions speak louder than my words.” However, when words and actions do align, people begin to take note and affirmation and recognition soon follow.

Such was the case last week when MPA received news that our school is now ranked #1 among the 62 private schools in the state of Minnesota according to Niche.com and #60 among 2,525 private schools in the United States. Many of you are probably familiar with Niche, an online, crowd-sourced review of schools, colleges, and neighborhoods. Built upon the reviews and recommendations, Niche also incorporates quantitative data in making their determinations. Read More


Not Obstacles, Opportunities

kindergarten exploring in the new gardenby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Over the summer, a transformation took place at MPA. A little known and underutilized courtyard tucked away between the Lower School and our new Martin Lenz Harrison Library became a magical garden of discovery and joyfulness. What was grass is now a place where students can witness the growth and life, get their hands dirty, reconnect with the earth, and enjoy the bounty of fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Each section of the garden is marked by hand-painted stones with the name of the plant in English, French, and Spanish. The garden is the realization of a vision shared with me by Lower School parent Michelle Mick. Together with husband Tim, children Isaac and Freya, Chef Doug, Upper School student Samantha Forgosh, Class of 2019 alum Jaeden McFarland, and grounds staff Andy and Josh, Michelle created this charming and enchanting space for all to enjoy.

Fast forward to this week when the Lower School gathered virtually to launch CHAMP for the 2020-21 school year. In case you are not familiar with CHAMP, it stands for Character Happens At Mounds Park. CHAMP is a time-honored program wherein a character trait is chosen to explore with students throughout the school year in the classroom, in special assemblies, service-learning, music, art, and drama. This year’s theme, perseverance, is particularly relevant given the challenges presented by the pandemic. Read More


Fostering Essential, Independent Thinkers

third grader working hands on in the classroomby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently stepped into a third-grade classroom and taught a lesson on fractured fairy tales. Students were learning about the essential elements of good writing—the setting of the story, the plot, and point of view. By placing the traditional fairy tale of the “Three Little Pigs” in the context of the culture and geography of the Southwest, students critically analyzed the text and discussed the writer’s choices. By asking questions such as the significance of a house made of tumbleweed instead of straw, saguaro instead of sticks, or an adobe house instead of a brick house, they also were learning the important skill of critical thinking.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve written on two particular weighty issues: antiracism and civil discourse. What is common to both topics is critical thinking. The work of dismantling racism depends on the ability to think critically about what laws, cultural norms, and policies perpetuate racism. Likewise, critical thinking is fundamental to civil discourse by insisting that ideas, opinions, and beliefs are both intellectually grounded and evidence-based. Read More


Brave Space

ms. murr's Upper school social studies classAt this moment in our nation’s history and in the midst of vitriol and violence, I’ve found inspiration in poet Micky ScottBey Jones in her call to create “brave space” where healing can take place in the midst of caring community. At MPA, we seek to build a brave place where students are known and valued and together create a space where we treat each other with kindness and respect. In brave space, students learn to truly value one another and work together to make room for diverse perspectives.

At the same time, we are bombarded day and night on social media and the news with the bitterness of socially and politically charged messages that rend rather than mend the fabric of our society. The political and cultural polarization, already exponentially widening, has only been accentuated by the pandemic. Searing language and personal attacks that characterize contemporary political debate, are words contrary to our school culture. In the lexicon of our Lower School, they certainly would not be CHAMP behavior.

Respectful and constructive civil discourse is at the heart of our democracy. Students develop knowledge, skills, and civic responsibility when they are invited into conversations that are emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, and relevant to their own lives. As the election heats up and the first debate among presidential candidates approaches, we must recommit to ensuring brave space by grounding ourselves anew in our long-standing school policies of respect and respectful discourse that flow directly from our mission and values. Read More


Antiracism Action Group Established At MPA

upper school literature class in discussionOn the morning of Saturday, May 30, I awoke very early, with only a few hours of sleep and with great sadness. The explosion of anger and frustration manifesting in peaceful protests juxtaposed with the violence and destruction across Minneapolis and the nation the night before was hard for me to fathom. In the months since then, the murder of George Floyd and other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have prompted both dangerous civil unrest and peaceful protest and brought to the forefront systemic racism embedded in our society.

In my Panther Post message the following Thursday titled “Turn To The Voices Of Our Students,” I wrote about the inspiration I found in our students, particularly then-junior Salmah Elmasry. Elmasry issued a call for action, “We are in a particular position that requires us to be active and not to be reluctant. To advocate against these issues publicly. If we display any reluctance, we will only continue with the status quo and allow all of these issues to perpetuate.” I spent much of the summer struggling with my personal role in fighting for racial justice and, as leader of an institution, what MPA must do to dismantle systemic racism in our school and in our society. Read More