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


All Hands On Deck

middle school student raising his handby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“All hands on deck,” barked my father when he wanted to get our attention in an emergency. Perhaps it was his years in the Navy, (although his service was on an airplane, not a ship!) but it was a frequently used phrase in our household growing up. We knew it was an imperative that necessitated that we immediately drop anything we were doing to help out in whatever way was required. As most of us do, we eventually become our parents, and I find myself using that same phrase, especially these days.

“All hands on deck” is one aspect of our COVID-19 reality. With our focus on the health and safety of our community and prioritizing students being on campus as much as possible, there is a fluidity of new and additional roles and responsibilities for faculty and staff. For example, because Lower School students are eating lunch in classrooms and their teachers need their own lunch break, I can add Lower School recess supervisor to my resume. Read More


On Being Kind

Kindergarten student delivering flowers to a teacherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

What is the first word that comes to mind that begins with the letter K? Ask any MPA kindergarten student and they will quickly tell you, “Kindness!” I had barely left my post at the front door Monday morning when a kindergartner presented me a bouquet of Black-eyed Susans from our own school garden. Several weeks ago, an MPA parent sent me a handwritten note in the mail thanking me for my leadership after noticing I looked like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders during one of our Town Halls. New sixth grade student, Ari R., gushed about how nice everyone is at MPA, especially the teachers, on his first day of school.

Watching the news these days or the postings on social media can be depressing. We are confronted with images and stories of violence, civil unrest, vitriol, and discord. One could believe that our world is bereft of kindness and goodwill in this time of crisis. In reality, we often fail to notice or celebrate the daily occurrences that advance the idea of humanity’s innate goodness. A visit to the site of George Floyd’s murder this summer brought tears to my eyes. The outpouring of kindness overwhelmed me as I observed donations of everyday supplies that filled sidewalks and bottled water and food was offered freely. Read More


Relationships Matter

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Yesterday was amazing! After months apart, it was heartwarming to welcome our students to a new school year, in person. Excitement and joy were evident throughout the day, from drop off to dismissal. Although there were no hugs due to our health and safety measures, I observed an abundance of virtual hugs, pretend high fives, and no-contact fist “bumps.” As someone who worked in an empty building for the last six months, the joy and laughter emanating from our students lifted my spirits and soothed my soul.

In the midst of a pandemic and opening school in a wholly different way, it’s comforting to see that this crisis isn’t driving people apart, it is bringing them together. As a part of my summer reading, I was struck by the timeliness of “Humankind: A Hopeful History,” a new book by historian Rutger Bregman. Bregman set out to prove “that humans are hardwired for kindness, geared towards cooperative rather than competition, and more inclined to trust one another than distrust one another.”

Bregman posits that, at our core, humans are decidedly good. In fact, is the very trait of friendliness that gives us an evolutionary advantage over other species. One of the most fascinating insights from modern anthropology and biology is that human beings have been selected over the history of our evolution to be friendly. Throughout history, it was actually the friendliest among us who had the most kids, and so had the best chance of passing on their genes to the next generation.

Read More


We Are Family

middle school students eating outside togetherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

There is little more joyous than a wedding or the birth or adoption of a child. Welcoming new members to our family and the growth of our extended family are certainly worth celebrating. With each new addition, our family is redefined and our sense of self is enhanced. Collectively, our values and perspectives are both affirmed and enriched. Many people think of MPA as a family and each year we have the joy of welcoming new members to this exceptional community.

I had the pleasure of welcoming our new families and students to MPA during Tuesday’s New Family Orientation and our MPA family has grown to include 108 new students and their families. As I looked at the families on each of the tiles on Zoom, I was struck by how the mission of MPA was reflected in the faces of our new families. Here are a few fun facts about our new family members:

  • 41 new students will join the Lower School;
  • 38 new students will join the Middle School;
  • 29 new students will join the Upper School;
  • New students come from 45 different zip codes;
  • In addition to English, these students speak 13 different languages at home including Swahili, Somali, Armenian, Spanish, Korean, Hmong, Urdu, Chinese, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Nepali, and Mandarin;
  • 40 of them enrolled without ever having stepped foot on campus;
  • 5 are children of alumni; and
  • 8 children of faculty or staff.

Read More


Sign Up For Panther Club, Panther Den, And Middle School Study Hall

panther camp campers going outsideSign up for Panther Club, Panther Den, and Middle School study hall here!

In order to offer the safest environment possible with space to physically distance, MPA will transition to a sign-up process for after school care in Panther Club (PreK-4), after school care in Panther Den (5-8), and Middle School Study Hall (5-8). These programs will no longer be offered on a drop-in basis until physical distancing is not required. Please complete your initial after school care sign-up no later than Friday, August 21. For those wishing to pick only certain days, future sign-up dates will be released on a rolling basis. MPA employees who also use Panther Club/Den should also use this sign-up to reserve space for their children. No sign up is needed for morning care based on our staggered arrival procedures.

Due to limited capacity, please sign up only for the individual days you will need for your student. If you need after school care every day, please choose our yearly or monthly options. If you have multiple students, you can select one sign up and adjust your quantity on the next page. Please include their names and grades in the submission form. The sign-up deadline is Friday, August 21.

After School Care Pricing:

  • PreK: Included in tuition
  • Grade K-4: $13
  • Grade 5-8: $12
  • Study Hall (only available until 4 pm): Free

Please contact Russ Purdy at rpurdy@moundsparkacademy.org with any questions. Thank you!


Characteristics Of A Resilient School And Resilient Children

lower school student arriving on campusby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

With the beginning of the school year less than two weeks away, I find myself increasingly excited to greet our returning students and ever so eager to welcome our outstanding new students. No matter how many years as an educator, the start of a new school year is as exhilarating to me as it is to a new teacher. This year is no different. And yet, the year ahead will be different and will present challenges that we will collectively need to overcome.

As I reflected on a guiding theme for this year, I kept coming back to the importance of resiliency. Perhaps I was influenced by the life and death of U.S. Representative and Civil Rights hero John Lewis several weeks ago. Like many, the depth of my sadness in his passing was buoyed by reflecting on the impact he had over the course of his life. Mr. Lewis suffered life-threatening setbacks and faced hardship that many of us cannot imagine. However, he developed the resiliency necessary to persevere and succeed. Read More


Virtual Freethinker Fridays

Freethinker Friday with MPA faculty, staff, parents, and studentsPlease join us every Friday on MPA’s Facebook page or MPA’s YouTube channel for live, casual conversations about topics that matter with a variety of MPA community members.

  • June 19 Freethinker Friday: Middle School Stuff watch the recording >
  • June 25 Freethinker Friday: Setting The Foundation In Lower School watch the recording >
  • July 10 Freethinker Friday: Racial Justice and Inclusion watch the recording >
  • July 17 Freethinker Friday: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Through Virtual Learning
  • July 24 Freethinker Friday: Balancing Academics, Arts & Athletics
  • July 31 Freethinker Friday: Rigor With Purpose

No RSVP is necessary. We look forward to seeing you live!


Building A Better Future

pairing assembly activities in the libraryby Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

“Together, we are building a better future. By cultivating critical thinking, creative inquiry, and social responsibility, we inspire and empower our children to improve an ever-changing and sometimes, challenging world. We do that though a rigorous, yet joyful, education delivered by an exceptional faculty dedicated to fostering caring relationships with their students.”

Those were my words in my first Panther Post message of the 2019-20 school year, on August 29. As construction finished on our new Family Commons and Martin Lenz Harrison Library, I seized upon the metaphor of building as a theme for the school year, challenging ourselves to provide the vision, blueprints, tools, and materials our students need to realize our mission, fulfill their potential, and positively impact our world. I could never have imagined just how prophetic the theme would turn out to be.

The world is, indeed, ever-changing and challenging and our lived reality this spring and early summer has made that abundantly clear to all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the strengths and flaws of ourselves, our institutions, and our society. And yet, our students emerge stronger, with the resiliency, flexibility, and independence that might not have otherwise been cultivated if not for the pandemic. Our exceptional faculty were able to pivot quickly while never losing hold of the caring relationships they have with students. Families have been supportive and understanding as difficult decisions have been made to keep our community safe.

The raw, visceral murder of George Floyd and ensuing unrest and violence has laid bare the fissures of society many gloss over or choose to ignore. Yet through critical thinking, creative inquiry, and honest conversation, our young people hold the promise of change where our generation, and generations before us, have failed. The MPA curriculum, grounded in character education and the humanities, in concert with the sciences, provide the tools and materials necessary to build a better future, to “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.” Indeed, building a better future requires our students to dream big and do right.

Thank you for entrusting your children to MPA—I am grateful for your partnership this school year. We are united in our shared belief that education is fundamentally an act of hope and that by investing in our children, we are indeed building a better future. I am confident that the strength of our community will carry us forward to a new day. Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to coming together in August.

PS: Please know you will hear from me on a regular basis this summer, as I share more information about plans for the fall. Our next communication is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23. Do not hesitate to reach out to your division director as questions arise!


Turn To The Voices Of Our Students

Dear MPA Community,

In yesterday’s Panther Post, I wrote about the Class of 2020 and their incredible compassion and commitment to raise their voices and use their gifts to “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.” Those words continued to race through my mind, as I awoke in a city that is filled with pain and violence. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing events this week, make me feel angry, disheartened, and disillusioned. I’m sure you feel similarly this morning.

When I feel hopeless and powerless, I turn to our students for strength and inspiration. Today is no exception. The voices of our students speak wisdom amidst the confusion, bring hope amidst the frustration, ensure love amidst the grief, and call for justice amidst the anger.

MPA, and schools in general, are poised to help facilitate conversations, present learning opportunities, and provide safe places for students to wrestle with difficult topics. For instance, yesterday, more than 60 Upper School students and faculty joined together for a virtual conversation about the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. This conversation, led by the Social Consciousness and Racial Justice and Equity student organizations, centered around challenging and thought-provoking questions about police brutality, overt vs. covert racism, systemic oppression and the role of media in covering this week’s events.

Junior Salmah Elmasry and senior Nasri Maktal, two of the leaders of these student organizations, created a welcoming space for open discussion, honest reflection, listening, and support. Students shared their personal experiences with police brutality, engaged in small group discussions on best practices for supporting disenfranchised communities, and acknowledged their own biases and privilege.

Reflecting on that gathering as well as discussions in class yesterday, Salmah shared, “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.”

At MPA, we embrace our diversity and celebrate equity and inclusivity. We see ourselves as a family, and I am frustrated that we are not together in person today. Nonetheless, I want to reassure all of our students that they are loved, that their voices matter, and that there is promise for a more just future.

“I am really proud to be in a community of outspoken individuals who have the willingness to listen, discuss, and reflect collectively,” Salmah shared. “That just gives me a little bit of hope.”

Salmah, we have great faith in you, your fellow MPA students, and in all young people. Now, more than ever, our cities, nation, and world need you—actively engaged, educated, and empowered citizens who are committed to critical progress.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bill Hudson
Head of School

Click here to read an important message from Dr. Jules Nolan about talking to your children about violence and unrest.