Inspiring A Playful And Joyful Performance

families view art at lower school art showby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

It is difficult to be thinking about spring while a snow storm is bearing down on us and we are all enjoying an unexpected snow day. However, spring is my favorite season for many reasons. One of which is the Lower School Art and Music Show. Slowly, over spring break, the gallery and halls of MPA come alive with beautiful works of art created by our Lower School students. Ms. Rossbach works throughout the break to carefully curate and present their art thoughtfully and enchantingly. If you have walked the halls this past week or so, I am sure you will agree with me that it is magnificent.

The theme of this year’s show is inspired by the music of the Beatles, envisioned and interpreted by our very talented Lower School students. Art teacher Karen Rossbach and Music teacher Mari Espeland have yet again collaborated magnificently—as they have for more than 33 years—to integrate art and music, inspiring a playful and joyful performance that cannot be matched elsewhere.

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No School Today April 11

Due to the weather conditions predicted throughout today, and the current road conditions, school is cancelled today, April 11. This includes all activities, practices, and events including the Lower School Art and Music Show that has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 16.

This is not a decision we take lightly. We have been in close communication with our bus company, First Student, and we have been monitoring the conditions closely. We believe it is in the best interest of the entire community that we not have school today.

Please stay safe and warm. We look forward to seeing you on campus Friday!

Spring’s Impact On Learning

upper school students outside for biology classby 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 enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

The March break stimulates thoughts of spring in Minnesota, stirs up feelings of excitement, and renews the soul. Spring has always been my favorite season, marking the end of a brutal winter and the transition into warmer temperatures. As a child I watched for puddles to appear and looked for the first sighting of a robin or baby bunnies or ducklings in our backyard as a sign that spring was on its way. Spring seemed so mysterious to me as a child, and as an adult I continue to feel the same. The transition from winter to spring magically transforms nature, which impacts the human spirit. Read More

What Students Discover When Learning By Doing

French immersion iterm group in quebecby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

For most Middle School students, this week is their favorite time of the school year. It is i-Term, a signature MPA program that offers students an intensive learning experience in a single class that aligns with their interests and fuels their passion for learning. For some, it primarily means a week without homework and without grades. For all, this inquiry-based, experiential learning experience reflects a core attribute of an MPA education that has been with us since our founding 37 years ago.

Inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and service-learning are relatively new terms in the educational world and seem to be in vogue as schools look for creative and innovative ways to more fully engage students in learning. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation defines project-based learning as “an instructional approach that addresses core content through relevant, hands-on learning—challenging students to solve ‘real world- problems.” According to the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington, “Service-learning refers to learning that actively involves students in a wide range of experiences, which often benefit others and the community, while also advancing the goals of a given curriculum.” Read More

There’s Power In Being Kind To Yourself

upper school student paintingby 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.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. It was one of those birthdays where AARP sends you both a birthday card and a membership card in the same envelope. It’s not hard to believe that I have now entered my sixth decade, but rather that I have been an educator for as long as I was a traditional student. Regardless, my experiences as a student are the ones that I often find myself replaying in my mind and on which I rely as I work with MPA students and my own fifth-grade son. The reality is that it is not my successes that draw me back to my childhood, but the challenges that I experienced. The times I did not meet the expectations that I set for myself or were given to me by others. Read More

Conduits For Joy

Upper school student and fourth grader reading together at the reading assemblyby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

It’s true. I am a voracious reader. Throughout my life, I have loved books and can think of few greater pleasures than a good one. Reading fueled my imagination and took me to places I could have never visited. Getting lost in a book and losing track of time is pure joy. For these reasons and many more, the MPA Book Festival, produced by our incredible Parents Association, is one of my favorite MPA traditions. The Book Festival began in April 2000. It was started by the collaborative efforts of parents of alumni Elaine Johnson and Karla Myers, and the library staff. It was also the year MPA librarian Nancy Lage brought in Mary Grand Pre, the illustrator of the American version of “Harry Potter.” Part celebration and part fundraiser for the library, the Book Festival symbolizes so much of what is special about our community.

When I was a child, the library was my favorite place. In the small town I grew up in, the library was an old “mansion” in the center of town. It was warm and comforting, a bit mysterious, and had a wonderful smell. It was my happy place. In college, my use of a library changed dramatically. It served more of a social purpose than an academic one. One of my first experiences of social justice advocacy was participating in a sit in at the college library over its unjust policy banning soft drinks. (Ah, youthful ignorance.) During my graduate work, I practically lived in the library. Buried amidst the stacks, I once more found my happy place. Read More

Finding Balance In The Snow

third graders snowshoeing in Phy EdBy Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Like you, I spent a good part of the day Wednesday shoveling out from another blast of snow. I love the quiet of a snow storm and work to find balance between appreciating the beauty and cursing the extra work it requires. It has also been a challenge to find balance between the safety of our community and our commitment to academic excellence. Cancelling school is never an easy decision, particularly when we have missed so many days already. Finding balance is tough work.

As I was shoveling, I was thinking about another challenging balance that is important to maintain: the three A’s (arts, athletics, and academics) that serve as the foundation of our school’s mission. In particular, I’ve been troubled by the state of athletics, not only in Minnesota, but nationally. There has been a rise of single sport athletes and club sports that affects not only athletic programs, but also athletes themselves. At MPA, we strive to offer a variety of opportunities for our students, maintain a no-cut policy, and be competitive. However, that is becoming increasingly difficult to balance as well. Read More

A Magical Moment of Kindness

Kindergarten reading kindness quotes to upper schoolby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Adults and children alike are asking a question of themselves and others these days: What does it mean to be kind? During a time of societal change and upheaval, the place of kindness in our lives is often taken up by rancor, division, and sometimes violence. I was horrified last week by the incident on I-94 when a driver, overcome with road rage, fired a gun at a school bus driver. Schools are not immune and can be cruel places. It is a sad fact that more than one out of five students nationwide will be bullied this year. Research has demonstrated time and again that when students don’t feel safe, it is difficult for them to learn and grow.

Kindness is not something to be taken for granted. It is important that parents and schools join together and intentionally foster empathy. Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teacher things like color and numbers. She is convinced that for kids to show empathy to us, we need to show empathy to them. At MPA, we believe very strongly in fostering a kind and joyful community. What is at stake is more than academic achievement, it is a sense of self and developing the confidence to fly. Read More

Together, We’ll Meet The Changing Needs

Dr. Hudson in the commons with upper school studentby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

We are fortunate to live in an older neighborhood in Minneapolis. Our house, built in 1915, is more than 100 years old and has a warm, comfortable feel to it. However, with two parents, two children, two dogs, and aging parents, we made the decision several years ago to add on a new kitchen, a bathroom on the first floor, and a family room in the basement. The old kitchen was so small that I could touch the counter and cupboards on one side and easily touch the sink and counter on the other side. Cozy doesn’t quite capture the feeling of what it was like to cook in that small space and it limited what we were able to prepare and serve for our family and loved ones.

We love our house and can’t imagine living anywhere else. However, as our family evolved, our needs did too. We needed to change how we lived. Schools are like that too. Over time, our vision of education changes and the needs of our students emerge in ways that cause us to outgrow the spaces that served us so well for so long. Mounds Park Academy is no exception. Throughout the history of the school, we have renovated and added on to the original building constructed in 1958 to better meet the changing needs of our students. Read More

Social Media: Online And On Edge

Two students sitting with phonesby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School Director, Mounds Park Academy

Just last week I had the privilege of sitting among fellow Middle School parents to hear a presentation prepared and expertly delivered by Ms. Mohn’s Upper School women’s literature students about the power and dangers of online vulnerability that exist in and through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and any number of newly emerging applications. This parent education session serendipitously followed my attending a screening of the new film, “LIKE: A Documentary About the Impact of Social Media on our Lives,” with my family just a few days before.

What is clear to me as I write this piece is that now, more than ever, we must have open, honest, informed, and critical conversations surrounding not only how we (yes, you and I) and our children are using social media; but more, how it is using us. While online interactions in these virtual worlds may seem somewhat disconnected from reality, make no mistake the influence of the social connections, comments, tweets, direct messages, chats, and images that are exchanged online spill over into the very fiber of our daily lives, and into our beings as humans.

It is present each day that the Middle School students walk through the halls at MPA, when they play basketball afterschool, and attend Quiz Bowl tournaments on the weekend. It’s likely present in Lower School students’ experiences as they attend birthday parties and playdates and parents post pictures with captions on Facebook. And, yes, in Upper Schoolers’ interactions as they navigate college acceptances, celebrations, personal life moments, and social dynamics and move into adulthood.

Does this seem overwhelming? If you answered yes, you are not alone. The good news is, we can change our behavior and therefore, change the impact that social media has on our lives and those of our children. Read More