We’re All In This Together

middle school students together on the playgroundby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

There has been a song running through my mind over the last several weeks as we’ve banded together as a school, nation, and world, to battle COVID-19. It comes from a time-honored and critically acclaimed movie, “High School Musical.” “We’re All in this Together” is one of those catchy, syrupy songs that once you hear it, it’s hard to get out of your head. However, deep down, there is an important message. So much so that I adjusted the lyrics a bit and recorded my own version of the song to inspire (horrify, with my tone-deaf singing) our faculty and staff.

The simple truth is that we are in this together, and it is through community that we will emerge successfully, and stronger, on the other side of this crisis. Expressions of community and the affinity members of the MPA community feel for one another abound these days. As a community, we’ve come together to provide stability and continuity for our students. Parents have come together as well, through formal and informal channels, to support, counsel, and learn from one another.

In less than a week, we have an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate our shared values and aspirations. Our annual Spring Auction was to take place on the top floor of a warehouse in Lowertown St. Paul overlooking the lights of the city. While that will not be possible, we will still come together, virtually, to celebrate the best of MPA. Through Zoom, we have the opportunity to join with one another from our kitchens and dining rooms across the metro area and raise both our spirits and the necessary funds to support MPA. Read More

MPA Parent Schoology Groups

two third graders using the makerspace computerSince we transitioned to virtual learning, parents and guardians are no longer able to connect with one another on campus, at events, or at activities. We know that your relationships are just as important to our school community as your children’s relationships, so we have created a virtual way for you to continue fostering them.

We recognize that some grade levels have private Facebook groups and those are wonderful—as a school community, however, we know that not every family is on Facebook. We do know that every family is on Schoology, so we’ve decided to use that as a tool to further facilitate grade-level parent and guardian communication and collaboration. These groups will be for you and by you; they will not be used for the school to communicate information. We will continue to use Panther Post, institutional emails and division emails to fulfill that need.

These groups are an opportunity for you to share resources, ask questions, post events or photos, and to support one another as MPA parents. Students are not a part of these groups. Your Parent’s Association grade representative(s) can provide additional guidance and ideas on ways to utilize these groups for additional parental support and connections. Read More

Parents Association Virtual Happy Hour

parents gathering together at mpa The MPA Parents Association invites all parents to gather via Zoom for a virtual happy hour next Tuesday April 14 at 7 PM. There is no agenda! Ask, answer, share, vent, laugh, cry–whatever your mood moves you to do. We all miss the in-person conversations and socializing that a given week at MPA provides. While online gatherings can’t be a true substitute, let’s give it a try!

Join via Zoom >

Call in: +1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 626 573 128
Password: 887275

MPA Goes Virtual: Elli Carlson

elli Carlson goes virtualThis story series illustrates how our community is embracing, growing, and connecting through virtual learning together. Read on to hear MPA senior Elli Carlson’s thoughts as #MPAgoesvirtual!

Away from campus, Elli has adapted to virtual learning in her at-home classroom, making sure it’s super cozy and an enjoyable place to attend her online classes in. In addition to her synchronous classes on Zoom, she is excited to further explore more online tools, such as peardeck.com.

Elli defines “virtual learning” as moving the MPA classroom to an online setting while maintaining the unique dynamics of the learning environment at MPA–and she agrees her teachers are successfully doing that and more.

“MPA teachers have already done a great job of taking initiative around virtual learning. By reaching out and showing students they are thinking ahead, they have always communicated that their doors are always open, in real life and online,” she said. “Thank you, MPA, for making this transition so seamless! We are all very lucky to have so many avenues to communicate in this situation.”

Reframing Challenges

lower school family at school supplies pickupby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

My father used to say that it’s when the rubber meets the road that you know the value of something. There comes a time, he would say, when your values, resolve, or abilities will be tested and in that difficult or challenging moment, you’ll see what you are made of. The value of the MPA community has never been more clear to me than it has been over the last several weeks.

Without question, the pandemic is extremely difficult for all of us and there are more challenges to come. However, what has helped me, both professionally and personally, has been the resiliency and kindness of the MPA community. As you know, it’s been no small fete to transition to a virtual platform and to do so in accordance to our mission and values. Our teachers, students, and parents have all demonstrated the ability to quickly switch gears and adapt to a new platform. Our community has also shown great depths of kindness, caring for one another and sharing appreciation for teachers.

In our most recent parent survey, 90% said they were either satisfied or highly satisfied with our shift to virtual school. One parent shared, “Honestly, I thought that I knew how wonderful all those who work at MPA were—but today, being beside my son navigating his first day of virtual school, I was blown away with the professionalism, expertise, love, and support for the students at MPA. What an amazing team of beautiful, incredibly talented people our children have the awesome opportunity of encountering.” Read More

MPA’s First Ever Virtual Spring Auction

MPA virtual spring auction logoSave the date for MPA’s first ever virtual Spring Auction! Since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and MPA’s shift to virtual learning, so much of our world has changed! One thing that has remained the same throughout all of this is the importance of our connection to one another, especially as we work together to overcome whatever challenges or obstacles may be in our way.

In this spirit, our volunteer Spring Auction committee is pleased to announce that this year’s 2020 MPA Spring Auction: Light Up the Night is going virtual! Join us on Friday, April 17 for a fun evening filled with inspirational stories, fun auction items to bid and win, and the most important element that makes MPA so special: community.

We need you now more than ever to ensure every student, family, and staff member has what they need to dream big, do right, and light up the world. Learn more about the event, including answers to some frequently asked questions and the changes to expect this year. Check your email inbox this weekend with more details and ways you and your entire family can get involved! Questions? Contact Jennifer Rogers at 308-765-0524 or via email at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org.

Connect, Play, And Create With MPA’s Virtual Playground

lower school student on the playground monkey barsJoin us to connect, play, and create With MPA’s Virtual Playground! Beginning April 8, join via Zoom from 3:30-4 PM Wednesdays-Fridays for the following sessions:

Wednesdays: PreK-4 Playground (beginning April 8)
Thursdays: All Ages Guest Speaker (beginning April 9)
Fridays: All Ages Fiber Friends (beginning April 10)

Students age 13 and under must join with a parent. MPA Virtual Playground is facilitated by Tracey Joyce, Technology Integrationist and Nicole Koen, Makerspace Coordinator.

COVID-19: A Transformational Moment For Parents

lower school student listening intently“The most valuable thing that will come from this pandemic is that we don’t have time to save our kids from negative emotions anymore.” Mounds Park Academy school psychologist Jules Nolan shared this observation in a recent virtual MPA parent education session.

In recent years, Nolan has observed an unfortunate parenting style that involves parents “over saving” their children from experiencing negative emotions. The unintended consequence of this well-intentioned approach is that too many young adults fall apart at the first sign of a challenge. With the COVID-19 pandemic, parents do not have the time, resources, or emotional energy to assuage every moment of their children’s boredom, loneliness, frustration, and anger. This is a good thing.

Nolan likens the COVID-19 situation to wartime, where every family member has to take responsibility for the functioning of the family. She calls it “an opportune moment to embrace the idea that our children are an important part of our family—but they are not to be the centerpiece of the family.”

Over the next several weeks, kids will become skilled at being sad, bored, lonely and disappointed. They will gain experience in tolerating uncertainty, navigating frustration, and overcoming boredom. These skills are connected to regulating emotions, and predict strong outcomes for kids such as good performance in school, college, and life (Durlak et. al., 2011). Nolan sees our current reality as “a rich garden, ready for cultivating the social and emotional skills that kids really need to develop.” Read More

Kindergarteners Send Joy To Senior Living Friends

a joke written and illustrated by an MPA kindergarten studentThe MPA kindergarten class kicked off virtual learning with a community-centered homework assignment! Kindergarten teacher Ms. Petersen contacted two local senior living facilities and asked if the students could partner with them in order to foster relationships while social distancing and help the kindergarten students continue their CHAMP journey away from campus.

To go along with their letter “J” activity, each student wrote and illustrated a joke for the senior living residents. The assignment also encouraged them to practice spelling and creative details in their drawings. The students then mailed their jokes to Ms. P, and also used this opportunity to explore their own address, discuss how mail is processed and delivered, and learn more about the history of stamps and stamp collecting.

Ms. P is delivering the jokes to the senior living facilities, and even has permission to hang them on the windows outside! The students are ecstatic to be providing joy throughout the community during this time, executing their CHAMP behavior by communicating with an isolated population. Have a good laugh and see all of their jokes here!

Opportunities To Connect And Volunteer Virtually

middle school students reading notes of thankfulnessWe’ve heard from many families in recent weeks as we’ve planned for and unveiled virtual learning. One theme that keeps coming up is that MPA families want to spread the joy and love they have for school, while supporting teachers who are working hard to continue meaningful education across divisions. Sign up today to become a volunteer. Here is a sample of some of the ways you can get involved!

  1. Guest lecture: Share your knowledge to students of all ages by becoming a guest speaker during one of our live class sessions.
  2. Support recruitment: Sign up to have a virtual conversation with a prospective family.
  3. Spread the MPA love: We are gathering families willing to help with care packages, family meals, write letters to families or others in need.
  4. Build a virtual community: Sign up to be a host a for a virtual family gathering with other MPA families. We know physical distancing is important, but let’s make sure our social connections remain.
  5. Stay social: Social media engagement is more important now than ever. Follow, share, and like on all MPA social media platforms.
  6. Support virtual learning: Help us ensure parents and students have support at home to continue their education by becoming a tutor.
  7. Help teachers and parents provide STEAM activities at home: If you have a background in science, engineering, computer programming, or the arts, connect with us about how to create video content for students of all ages.
  8. Share your knowledge: Parents with a background in health care, education, or knowledge of public health and pandemics could share their knowledge during upcoming parent education events.
  9. Be a Buddy: Join our network of Buddy Program families to connect with new families and help them navigate their transition to MPA.
  10. Donate: Your support helps us to navigate the challenges we face and to fill the gap for families, employees, and expenses associated with our virtual learning implementation. Your gift today will support our Community Care Fund means Panthers can stay connected, continue to learn, and that everyone has the resources they need for a meaningful education during this time of uncertainty.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org or 308-765-0524.