To Care Is To Confirm

students reading the grateful heartsby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School director

Editor’s Note: 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.

“When we confirm someone, we identify a better self and encourage its development. To do this, we must know the other reasonably well. Otherwise we cannot see what the other is really striving for, what ideal he or she may long to make real.” –Nel Noddings

Philosophy. Philosophy, quite literally derived from the Greek word philosophia, meaning “love of wisdom” is the study of knowledge(s). As we round the week toward Valentine’s Day, I thought I might share a little bit about the importance of love, of care, of confirmation in education. I invite you to wander with me a bit in my thinking. Read More

Our Legacy Society Story

our legacy society storyNan Etzwiler, Dan O’Neill, and Laura O’Neill

Since our daughter, Laura, started at MPA in 2005 in its first PreK class, MPA has been joyful, enriching, and stimulating for her—and for us! From pillowcase poems to building 3-D digestive systems, from memorizing Chaucer to crafting a competitive speech, we are grateful to the incredibly skilled and caring faculty we have known in each division. As parents, we have also had the opportunity to volunteer at MPA in various capacities and have seen close-up how thoughtfully the mission of the school is borne out through curriculum, character-building, and extracurricular activities. MPA is a place that speaks to the both the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ of everyone who passes through it.

In recognition of the rich mission of the school, and its strong leadership and staff, we have included MPA in our estate plans for three reasons. Most important, MPA has played a critical role and had a sustained presence in
our lives for many years—and its impact on our family will continue for decades to come. Second, prioritizing our giving and including MPA in our estate planning have been ways for us to talk with our daughter about not only the importance of giving, but the joy of it. She has a growing appreciation for the fun and importance of leaving something behind for others.

Finally, through tax planning we have been able to maximize the impact of our gifts today and later. Working with MPA’s Development Office to denote MPA as an estate beneficiary was easy and quick. We hope one day that our legacy gift can help sustain MPA so that generations of students to come might thrive and soar just as our daughter has. We encourage you to reach out to MPA’s Development Office to consider including MPA in your legacy planning, too.

Be A Career Panelist To Help Students Dream Big

students in the college counseling officeCollege Counseling and the Upper School Advisory program are teaming up to provide career exploration opportunities for students! We are looking for MPA parents and alumni to share information about their careers with students who are starting to imagine where their talents could take them.

We plan to offer six different “career cluster” panels during Advisory meetings. Speakers will volunteer either Wednesday, April 8 or Wednesday, April 15 (time commitment roughly 10:45 AM to 12:30 PM). On each date, three different panels will be offered, featuring people presenting about their jobs, the paths that led to their current positions, and taking student questions.

If you are interested in being a panelist OR getting involved in future career programming, please complete our brief survey or contact Andrea Kaltved in College Counseling at Read More

Parent Education: How To Listen To Your Kids

middle school students reading togetherMounds Park Academy is sponsoring the workshop “How to Listen to Your Kids: Learn skills that encourage your kids to tell you everything” to help parents create better communication with their kids. Led by life purpose coach Paul Boehnke, it is open to all parents, whether your children attend MPA or not. The workshop is free and coffee, tea, fruit, and pastries will be provided. Join us Friday, February 21 from 8-9:30 AM in the Porter Conference Room at MPA, 2051 Larpenteur Avenue east, St. Paul, MN.

“Do you ever have power struggles? Do you wonder what’s really going on at school? Wish you had better relationships with your children? The skills I learned as a professional coach completely changed how I related to my own son. Now I’ll share those same skills with you so you can experience the openness, honesty and love you’ve always envisioned,” says Paul.

“I’ve led this workshop in a number of places and attendees have given it rave reviews. You’ll learn skills usually only professionals learn and have a chance to practice these skills before you try them out in the wild, at home.”

Register here to reserve your space!

The White Out Dance Is February 28

students at the 2019 white out danceJoin us for the Tenth Annual Parents Association White Out Dance on Friday, February 28! From 3-5 PM, students in grades PreK-4 are invited for crafts, games, dancing, and more. There will be complimentary snacks and water for students. Plus, show us your winter spirit and wear white!

Come to the Lansing Center right after school! All Lower School students must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. Contact Jerry Francois at with any questions.

Maker Fest 2020: Eloise

Eloise at maker fest 2019We’re interviewing the Makers you’ll meet at at Maker Fest 2020 on Saturday, February 22! Eloise is a Lower School student who spends her time building, making, drawing, and experimenting with all kinds of materials. She is also passionate about animals and the environment.

What (or who) inspires you to make?
I like making things out of different materials. I also like to make things to be kind to others. My dad and mom and sister help me sometimes. My dad helps me use the scroll saw. My sister lets me paint with her and my mom helps with projects.

What do you enjoy making?
I like to draw jellyfish and sea turtles. I also like to make things out of paper, cardboard, tape, ribbon, and wood. I like to make jewelry out of paper and mobiles out of wood, paper, tape, and ribbon. Read More

Alumni Mentorship Making A Lifelong Impact

lyndon and matt at the alumni networking eventMore pairs of MPA seniors and alumni mentors have been eager to share their positive experiences and connections through the MPA Mentorship Program and how it has continued to inspire them. In just its second year, a historic number of alumni participated, outnumbering the current senior class! Mentees and mentors were matched based on interests, hobbies, career goals, and college choice. See all of the photos from the networking event here!

“MPA’s mentorship program has given me a chance to learn so much information about my dream of becoming a pilot that I cannot get from the internet. I cannot describe how excited and happy I was on the first day of the mentorship program,” said MPA senior Lyndon Lyu ’20. “We started to write an email to our mentors, and I was so lucky to be paired up with Matt, who is a professional pilot. Being a pilot has been my dream since I can remember. When I was told that I was paired with a real pilot, I was like a little boy seeing his hero. In the many emails between Matt and me, mine were always so long because I had so many questions about aviation. I knew I could ask Matt anything because he knows almost everything about my dream, and for this reason, our email progress was always far ahead of the program required timeline. Thank you to MPA for arranging the mentor meeting in our new Family Commons. Meeting with Matt might be the best thing that has happened to me this year. Matt was very nice and helpful, and he told me every step that I need to do in order to be a pilot in the future. He is even willing to introduce me to some airlines after I get my pilot’s license. For all of these reasons, I am so thankful to MPA’s mentorship program, and I really appreciate Matt’s help and the time that he spent with me on this program.” Read More

Understanding School Types & Finding The Best Fit

middle school student in class in the makerspaceAs consumers, we have the option of customizing virtually any purchase–education included. Parents can select from a wide range of school types, each with their own structure and approach. Making the best choice for your child starts with understanding the common characteristics of each kind of school: public and charter, private and independent, and religious and parochial.

Public and Charter Schools
As described by author Alex Caffee in her Niche blog, traditional public schools are tied to school districts and set their curriculums based on state education standards. Charter schools are public schools that are independent of school districts and have contracts with state or local boards.

“The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for greater accountability,” says Caffee. “As public schools, charter schools are open to all children, do not require entrance exams, cannot charge tuition, and must participate in state testing and federal accountability programs. The schools draw up their own ‘charter’ which is a set of rules and performance standards that they are held accountable to.” Read More

Momentum 2020: Living Out Our Mission

upper school students working together in the commonsby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As we approach the end of our current 5-year strategic plan, Momentum 2020, work is underway to lay the foundation for our next plan. Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees and the school’s administration, the MPA community is engaged in a conversation around our core and aspirational values that will give direction to the new plan.

As part of this conversation, students in the Upper School were recently given the opportunity to provide their feedback on a list of core and aspirational values. They were also given the opportunity to name additional values represented at MPA that were not on the list provided. Imagine my reaction when the overwhelming value Upper School students offered was “kindness.” In a world that often feels anything but kind, I am proud that students affirmed kindness as a core value. While respect is part of our mission statement, kindness is the manifestation of respect, an expression of how students consciously choose to act. I couldn’t have been prouder.

We are fortunate to have a warm, kind, welcoming, and inclusive community, characterized by kindness. It represents a deliberate outcome set forth in our current plan that prioritized the creation and implementation of character education and wellness programs across each division. It serves as just one of many examples of how Momentum 2020 has guided the ongoing, continuous school improvement over the past five years. It is customary at this time of year that I provide an update on our strategic plan and how the school is living out its mission. As you will see in this infographic, we have accomplished a great deal. While it is impossible to capture all the progress that has been made in the last year, I would like to highlight a few notable accomplishments under each of the three strategic priorities. Read More

MPA Students Share Their Voices On Podcast

kindergartners sharing their initiative with upper schoolAs part of Design For Change’s Earth Day Network Plastic Pollution Design Sprint, two MPA Kindergarten students and Ms. Koen were featured in a blog post and on one of their podcast episodes! The Kindergarten students’ recent project selling reusable canvas grocery bags at Kowalski’s Market gave them the knowledge and confidence to take what they  learned about preserving the environment, eliminating plastic use, and global citizenship on air. Take a listen to what they have to say here!

While you listen, take a look at the Design For Change blog post, “A Look Behind the Scenes: Collaborating with Earth Day Network,” to see photos of the MPA Kindergarteners putting their passion to work. The blog expresses the importance of youth involvement, stating that “the biggest leaders in this fight are young people.” Right below that powerful statement is an image of MPA Kindergarteners marching into the Upper School commons to talk about why their efforts to save sea turtles and ocean life is so important. Further down in the story is another photo of MPA fifth grader Brooklynn J. beaming with her Kindergarten buddy while holding up the canvas bag they made in the Makerspace. Read More