January 17 Afterschool Activities Cancelled

Due to the weather, all afterschool activities including games, practices, and meetings are cancelled this afternoon, Friday, January 17. School will remain in session until our regular dismissal time at 3 PM.

All buses will run as usual unless you hear from your division director directly.

Panther Club and Panther Den will remain open until all children are picked up; however, families are encouraged to arrive as quickly as possible after 3 PM.

Please stay safe and warm and enjoy the beauty of the snow!

Who Mentored You?

alumni and mpa senior talking at the alumni mentor network programby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

My earliest recollection of my career aspirations is from when I was four or five. I remember having it narrowed down to two possibilities: gas station attendant and trash collector. I hope enough of you are old enough to remember when there were attendants who pumped gas, washed windshields, and checked the oil. For most of us, our thoughts about a career in our early years come from our role models, those we looked up to and wanted to emulate. My aspirations changed as I did and teaching became my desired career path.

Mentors and role models play a crucial part of our academic, ethical, and professional development. Their influence cannot be taken for granted as they help shape our values, actions, and behaviors. In the professional world, mentors and role models can influence our career paths as well as provide practical advice and insight into the workplace. They can also help to form and strengthen valuable connections that often lead to future employment. As it is said, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know.” Read More

The Impact Of Singapore Math At MPA

student listening to teacher in classby Renee Wright, Lower 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.

Looking back over the past 30 years as a Lower School teacher, one of my most challenging subjects to teach was math. Some students were successful, and some were not. Some students loved math, while others didn’t care for it at all. How would I address these challenges? I knew it was my job to teach math concepts and make sure these skills could be applied. At the same time, I wanted students to love math and feel confident. I was not alone with these concerns.

Teachers often report that problem solving is one area that presents the largest challenge for students. It is not uncommon for students to feel anxious or frustrated when asked to solve challenging mathematical word problems. In fact, students often give up before even trying. Problem solving in math often causes students to feel incompetent and believe they aren’t good at math. This can lead to a negative mindset about math and becomes a huge barrier to future success in the subject. Six years ago, teachers and administrators at MPA started looking for a math program to address these challenges. After much research, the Singapore Math curriculum was selected and adopted in grades kindergarten through fifth. Read More

The Shortest Day Of The Year

dr. Hudson with students passing the books into the new libraryby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Saturday marks the official beginning of winter and is also the shortest day of the year. It marks an important moment in the cycle of life, the end of darkness and the re-emergence of light. Throughout human history, in many cultures and religious traditions, light holds significant meaning, often symbolizing the goodness in each one of us. For many, it represents the warmth of home and family.

These last few weeks before winter break at MPA have been filled with celebrations of light, warmth, and family:

  • The Founders’ Breakfast is a wonderful tradition and it was such a joy last week to see so many students and families celebrating the history and values that bring us together.
  • Maybe it’s the lack of sleep or the holiday spirit, but I had tears in my eyes during the Middle School Band, Orchestra, and Vocal Concert last week. The students did a magnificent job, creating such beauty and joy through their music. As I scanned the faces of our students, I reflected on how much they have grown and come into their own, regardless of whether they were new this year or returning.
  • As I entered school on Tuesday, I was greeted by the comforting smell of waffles and syrup marking the annual Upper School tradition of our Peer Leaders serving homemade waffles to students.
  • This afternoon, we celebrated the completion of our new library, with all students, teachers, and staff passing the final 100 books, one by one, along line bridging the distance between the old and the new.

Read More

Reading Our Way To Success

middle school boys reading togetherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” Who doesn’t love a good Dr. Seuss book? Last week I read to both the PreK and kindergarten classes, choosing from among my childhood favorites. The PreK class loved Mr. Brown as much as I loved sharing it with them like I did with my own children. There is something about coming together and forging a relationship by sharing a good book.

Excitement is building as our new library inches towards opening. Nearly 30,000 books will find a new home. For this to happen, we’ve needed to temporarily close the library in order to make the move. In the meantime, Lower School library time is being filled by administrators reading to our students. In addition to reading to the PreK students, I also read another of my favorite books, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” to the kindergartners. Read More

MPA Named Top STEM School In The US

lower and middle school students in the makerspace togetherby 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.

November 8, 2019 was a big day for the MPA community. Many of you remember the community energy and excitement as we celebrated the Volleyball Team as they competed in their first State Volleyball Tournament. This, however, was not the only thing we celebrated that day. November 8 was also the day that Mounds Park Academy was named one of the top 500 STEM high schools in the United States by Newsweek. Given there are more than 37,000 high schools, this is a very significant honor. Many of our fellow awardees are STEM schools or have STEM programs, while MPA believes that integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math into all aspects of an MPA education aligns best with our whole-child approach. Here, we add an “A” intentionally, referring to the disciplines together as STEAM.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were nearly nine million STEM/STEAM jobs representing 6.5% of the US workforce. Looking ahead, those numbers are expected to grow 70 percent faster than other occupations and many educators are encouraging students to take an interest in the subjects and courses that will provide a solid foundation in these areas. This is fabulous advice and fits well with MPA’s educational approach that allows PreK through 12th grade students to explore topics and ideas through multiple disciplines, examining problems and situations with insight from science, math, art, and humanities. Read More

Taking A Moment For Joy And Gratitude

zach thanking the cafeteria staff at middle school lunchby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I read recently that the Ritz-Carlton trains its staff to follow the “10/5” rule. That is, when employees walk within ten feet of someone they should make eye contact and smile. If they walk within five feet, they say hello. While not a rule, I would suggest it is an MPA practice. Personally, I try to also use a person’s name when I great them. The response, even from someone who appears to be grumpy, is often a smile.

You may have noticed a recent post on Facebook regarding new sixth grade student Zaq who organized his Middle School classmates to thank and celebrate our awesome kitchen staff. Students took the time to write notes and a large banner with their signatures was presented to the staff at lunch. In fact, throughout the last several weeks, the microphone at lunch has been passed around as students have share what they are grateful for with one another. Regardless of what they may say at home or how they may talk to you, most students voice words of gratitude about their parents. Read More

Creating A Better Future

kindergartners with the canvas bags that they madeby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Last week was extremely exciting as the community pulled together in support of our Girls Volleyball Team and their quest for a state championship. And although they were ultimately not successful, their incredible season will remain in the memories of MPA students and families. More than 250 students in grades eight through 12 filled five buses for the trip to the Xcel Energy Center last Thursday. Meanwhile, on campus, many Lower and Middle School students, faculty, and staff gathered in the new Family Commons to watch the game on the big screen. There was singing, cheering, and even a “wave” making itself across the fans in the commons.

The school spirit of last week is just one of many indications that our school year is off to a great start. We have wonderful new students and families who are enriching our community. Our newly built and renovated spaces have made it easier to come together as a family over a meal or an event. In the classroom, on the court, and on the stage, students are excelling and truly making an impact, locally, and globally. Read More

Small Classes Make A Big Difference

Katie Murr with her social studies classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I meet throughout the fall in small groups with seniors to check in with them about how their year is going, what plans they have for next year, and solicit their feedback on our school and how I might be a better leader. Their stories fill me with great pride and joy, and sometimes bring a tear to my eye. This past Monday was no exception. Each student—some of whom have been here for many years and some of whom are newer—spoke of the school as family, of the remarkable sense of community that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive of all.

Small class size is indeed a significant factor that contributes to the close-knit community we enjoy. However, we are committed to small classes for another very important reason: they result in academic success and higher levels of achievement. Our teachers know this from their experience, but there is also an immense amount of research that confirms it. Read More

High Performing And High Risk? Let’s Learn And Talk About This

Angst promo imageby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle 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.

It seems everywhere we turn these days, there is a new story about mental illness, anxiety, and depression alongside the challenges of maintaining psychologically healthy children in a world that seems to be moving so quickly hardly any of us can keep up. Some of the stories bring horrific tragedy to our television screens and images that almost none of us can bear. And if you look a little more closely, there are more and more stories that are seeking to illuminate and explore the often unseen, silent struggle of young people dealing with anxiety, depression, disconnection, and loneliness. In a special issue of Time magazine, “Mental Health: A New Understanding,” researchers, doctors, and sociologists take various perspectives on mental health, its historical roots in disease classification and treatment, and some of the more modern contributing factors, including but not limited to, technology, social pressure, and family life. In addition to the sociocultural milieu and newsworthy stories I read about mental health and anxiety, I work alongside young people and see the stress, the anxiety and depression, the mounting weight of their worries being carried from class to class, role to role, activity to activity. Read More