Curiosity Continued

upper school science labby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I have often heard that people like to read my weekly messages. That is always welcome news as it can be time consuming and sometimes stressful in the midst of my other duties and demands on my time. However, I truly enjoy the opportunity to reflect on a particular topic relevant to education or taking place in the world and connect it with what is happening at MPA. At times, I am struck by something that happens in a classroom or event that gives rise to a deep appreciation for our exceptional teachers and the unique educational experience provided at MPA.

It is particularly rewarding when something I write resonates with the community. My message two weeks ago, “Cultivating A Curious Mindset,” did just that. Since then, I have had a number of conversations with parents who connected what I wrote with their experiences in the workplace. In a moment of serendipity, Dr. Mike Mercer, Lower School parent of Henry and Charlie, shared that on the day I wrote about curiosity, he covered the same topic with his medical students. He shared with me a very powerful article entitled “Curiosity” written a number of years ago by Faith T. Fitzgerald, M.D. from the UC Davis Medical Center. Read More

Spanning Geographical And Experiential Divides

Us history classroomby Mark Segal, Upper 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 will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

Hidden in a corner near the Hart Commons is a classroom that few who are not part of the Upper School are aware of. The location of the room was intentionally selected as it is quiet, out of the way, and allows for small group collaboration for the students who use it as their classroom. Together, students in the room are studying many things including:

  • Architecture from the ancient Egyptians into the 21st century through the philosophic idea that western civilizations have been the primary “drivers of architecture through the ages;”
  • Modern Standard Arabic where they are learning to read and write the Arabic alphabet and developing a proficiency in the language; and
  • The ethics of making decisions by focusing on medical practice, medical research and development, and health care case studies.

The aforementioned students are enrolled in interactive, synchronous courses though the Malone Schools Online Network (MSON) that bring students together with dedicated high school or college faculty from across the United States. Five years ago, Mounds Park Academy joined this wonderful collaborative of independent schools, which offers their students the opportunity to take a variety of courses beyond what normally would be available to them through the most up-to-date video conferencing technology. Building Utopia, Arabic II, and Medical Bioethics are just a few of the more than 30 courses offered through MSON. Read More

Cultivating A Curious Mindset

Lower school French class making maps of France for geography unitby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently came across an article shared by Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “The Most Important Skill at the Office Isn’t Being Taught in School.” It caught my attention. What is that important skill? The article argues it is curiosity. Curiosity is named by many behavioral scientists to be among the most valuable attributes in the workplace and yet it is not fostered in many schools. In fact, the way in which schools are structured discourages it. It makes sense because so many schools are driven by standardized testing and measure performance solely on test-based standards. Rest assured that is not the case at MPA, and in fact, is quite the opposite.

At MPA, curiosity is not just encouraged–it is expected. Furthermore, curiosity is valued as a mindset to be cultivated in its own right, not just for the workplace, but for lifelong fulfillment. According to best-selling author Todd Kashdan, “Curiosity—a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something—creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy, and delight.” Whether in the classroom, the workplace, or in life, curiosity is essential. Read More

Witness The Impact

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

If you have logged into Facebook or checked your email today, you are well aware that today is Give to the Max Day. Across the state of Minnesota, this day is a celebration of the power of philanthropy to change lives. For MPA, today marks a celebration of our generous donors who are so very dedicated to our students and who believe in making an impact on our school community.

The mission of Mounds Park Academy is vibrant and powerful, delivered by talented and caring teachers, and is having a tremendous impact on the lives of our students each day. Impact means to have a strong effect on someone or something. You share in that impact by the value you place on learning, the investment you are making in the education of your children, and your commitment and support of Mounds Park Academy. Read More

We Dared To Dream

preK student in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

The chair of our recent ISACS accreditation visiting team asked a founding faculty member a simple question: “Is the Mounds Park that exists today the school you envisioned all those years ago during its formation?”

“In many ways it is,” she answered, “But in many more ways, it exceeds what we dared to dream back then.” That single statement represents the hoped-for outcome of the last 18-month process and is at the heart of the report the visiting team wrote. As Head of School, and as a parent, I was overjoyed.

Mounds Park Academy is a proud member of the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS). The purpose of ISACS is to promote the development of strong learning communities characterized by high achievements, social responsibility, and independence of governance, programs, and policies. This goal is achieved through a rigorous accreditation process, targeted professional development programs, and focused support services. In preparation for re-accreditation, we’ve spent the last 18 months reflecting on our mission and program and writing a very comprehensive, 147-page self-study report. Read More

Learning From Assessment

middle school group in classby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle 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 will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

As we approach the ACT Aspire testing in the Middle School, I am reminded that even just the word “assessment” or “test” can bring on feelings of stress, anxiety, or dread. And certainly, there are few conversations that garner more opinions or positions than that of assessment and testing in education. I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I hope is a more robust and thoughtful rendering of assessment and its implications for learning and teaching. More, I want to share with you, fellow parents, some thoughts on how you can be supportive of your students as they move through their educational journey with assessment. Read More

Our MPA Moments

bill's lunch with seniors in the pcrby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Every fall, I invite seniors to have lunch with me in small groups of eight to 10. It is a fantastic time to check in with them about how their senior year is going, learn what their plans are for next year, solicit their feedback on my leadership, and thank them for serving as leaders and role models. I also ask them to share their “MPA moment”–the moment, memory, or experience that captures or illustrates the MPA mission to them. I enjoy hearing their stories and it only deepens my love and appreciation for this amazing community.

A common MPA moment I hear often has to do with their experience of a PreK-12 school under one roof. Seniors will talk about what it was like for them to have an Upper School buddy when they were in Lower School or how much they enjoy now the “pairing assemblies,” when as seniors, they are matched with younger students. Their eyes light up with joy as they share the special relationship they have developed.

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The Purpose of Mounds Park Academy

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“Do you know the purpose of Mounds Park Academy?” asked Mr. Kevin Breen, chair of our ISACS accreditation visiting team, of several seniors.

“The purpose of the school is to develop the whole child so that we can be fully formed adults,” said the first.

“And when we are more fully formed, we have the self-confidence to respect each other and value inclusivity,” added a friend.

“Yes, so in a way, the most important word in the motto is ‘do,’ as in do things; do right,” said the third. And then, after a pause, he added this: “And our teachers facilitate that. They make it easy to do right. They make volunteerism easy. They make civic engagement easy. They bring opportunities to ‘do right’ right to us.”

The vibrant and powerful mission of Mounds Park Academy, delivered by talented and caring teachers, is having a tremendous impact on the lives of our students each day. You share in that impact by the value you place on learning, the investment you are making in the education of your children, and your commitment to and support of Mounds Park Academy.

Monday will mark the beginning of our fall campaign, “Joyful Learning, Joyful Giving.” For the next five weeks, the MPA community will band together to raise the funds necessary to extend the impact and joy of an MPA education. Culminating with Give To The Max Day and the Faculty and Staff Lip Sync Assembly on November 15, our goal is to raise $300,000 to ensure joyful learning continues at MPA.

One could say that the joy of learning at MPA is dependent upon the joyful giving of parents, alumni, grandparents, friends, and alumni families. Mounds Park Academy, like all independent schools, relies on three principle sources of revenue to support its day-to-day operations: tuition, endowment, and annual gifts made by members of our community. Tuition does not cover the total cost of educating a student at Mounds Park Academy and the gap is bridged by annual giving.

Gifts made to the MPA fund during the “Joyful Learning, Joyful Giving” campaign are used exclusively to fund joyful learning:

  • Joy from throwing a pot in ceramics class.
  • Joy from singing the national anthem so beautifully at Homecoming events.
  • Joy from creating a squishy circuit that powers a light bulb in the Makerspace.
  • Joy from hard work, training, and teamwork that results in a soccer victory.
  • Joy from bringing to live a character on stage.
  • Joy from grasping the nuance of a novel, an aha moment.

The spirit of philanthropy and of joyful giving at Mounds Park Academy is vibrant. I humbly ask you to join me in increasing the impact of the MPA mission. Please know that every gift is valued and participation at whatever level feels right to your family is appreciated. You may also be interested in knowing that 100 percent of faculty and staff gave to the MPA Fund last year and I expect it will be the same again this year. We have the most caring, knowledgeable, talented teachers and staff who make joyful learning and joyful giving possible.

Look for more information in the mail, visit the MPA website, or contact the Development Office to make a gift. With your contribution, you make an impact in the lives of all those who learn, play, create, dream, and do at our school. Your gift directly impacts of the mission of MPA and the lives of our students.

Making Homework Positive, Meaningful, and Low Stress

Lower school student reading a bookby 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 will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

How do I get my child to do homework without doing it for her? What should I do if my child is struggling with homework? How do I motivate my child to do homework? Have you ever asked yourself these questions as a parent? If so, you are not alone. Most parents of school-age children have encountered homework challenges and struggles. Read More

School Safety: Reflection, Research, and Action

two students holding handsby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Parenting is tough work. It seems that in today’s world, there are many more things to worry about than 25 years ago. One of those worries is school security. Despite the unlikelihood of a school shooting, the frequency and the publicity of such occurrences have parents and educators alike very concerned. The school shooting in Parkland, Florida last spring still looms large in my memory and has led to further reflection, research, and action on the part of MPA’s administration regarding school safety.

Tragic as it is, it is important to note that less than one percent of violent deaths are “school associated,” yet such instances do indeed feed our fears. No new threat or instance has provoked this communication or MPA’s updated approach that you will read more about below, but rather it reflects our ongoing commitment to keeping our students safe.

First of all, instead of talking only about school security, I would rather focus our efforts and thinking on school safety, a larger umbrella that includes both school security and school culture. It may seem to split hairs, but there is a difference. Security refers to the practices, protocols, hardware, and other such measures and is increasingly referred to as “hard” security. School culture is the set of values and beliefs that connect people to one another. As head of school, my job is to strike the right balance between school security and school culture. Read More