January 17 Afterschool Activities Cancelled

Due to the weather, all afterschool activities including games, practices, and meetings are cancelled this afternoon, Friday, January 17. School will remain in session until our regular dismissal time at 3 PM.

All buses will run as usual unless you hear from your division director directly.

Panther Club and Panther Den will remain open until all children are picked up; however, families are encouraged to arrive as quickly as possible after 3 PM.

Please stay safe and warm and enjoy the beauty of the snow!

Early Education That Merges Learning And Joy

PreK student arriving at schoolThree-year-old children are amazing sponges. They absorb everything around them, learning intuitively and actively. As toddlers approach the start of Pre-Kindergarten, it’s a unique and important time to match children with high value educational programs that will meet a broad range of developmental needs, while setting the stage for future success in school.

In Suzanne Bouffard’s book “The Most Important Year,” she discusses best practices for the earliest years of school. During an interview with National Public Radio, she explains that successful PreK programs “have hands-on experiences and opportunities for children to learn about things that apply to their lives. Good teachers always engage children in rich conversations and ask them open-ended questions.” Bouffard emphasizes that “another really important piece of a good program is that it focuses on things like self-control and behavior in the class, how to wait your turn, how to share, how to deal with frustration, and how to solve conflicts. Those are skills kids are just beginning to develop at three, four, and five years old.”

Bouffard outlines that classroom activities should be interdisciplinary, celebrating a young student’s dynamic nature while providing goal-oriented learning opportunities. “The research says very clearly that children learn through play and this notion that you have to choose between play and academic learning is a false dichotomy,” she says. “One study showed that you can give children building blocks and let them build whatever they want. Or you can give children building blocks with a goal—to build a landing pad for a helicopter, for example. In both cases, everybody ends up having fun and learning something, but the kids who had a goal actually used richer vocabulary, especially around spatial skills and building concepts.”

Joyful Learning: PreK at MPA
Mounds Park Academy, one of the top two private schools in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area and one of the nation’s top STEM schools, serves students through 12th grade and features a PreK program infused with joyful, hand-on learning. MPA’s rich curriculum is outstanding starting point for your child’s college prep education, reflecting national best practices and cultivating the intellectual, emotional, and social needs of young children in a safe and welcoming environment.

The MPA early education program focuses on discovery, creative exploration, and natural curiosity by facilitating the education of the whole child. Cornerstones of the PreK program philosophy include:

  • A classroom environment where each child is valued, and where warm, nurturing relationships are evident.
  • A child-centered approach that provides structure as well as flexibility.
  • Early exposure to a wide range of disciplines and resources, including language arts, literature, math, science, social studies, health and physical education, music, visual art, drama, and technology.
  • Respect for each child’s developmental level, with instruction geared toward individual needs.
  • Social, emotional, and intellectual skills emphasized and shaped by guided play and group participation.
  • Regular feedback and assessment information for parents regarding their child that includes conferences, written summaries, and a portfolio.

PreK student working in the makerspaceSchool readiness is always an important consideration and involves several key factors. MPA PreK faculty Debbie LaChapelle and Lower School director Renee Wright offer these recommendations for assessing whether your child is prepared to start PreK:

  • An attention span of at least 15 minutes; listening skills, and the ability to follow two-step directions.
  • Early reading, writing, and math skills, including recognizing some letters and counting.
  • Beginning stage problem solving, creativity, and both verbal and non-verbal expression.
  • Communication skills such as articulating needs and feelings, and social skills like meeting behavioral expectations, sharing, and cooperation.
  • Fine motor skills, including working with scissors and crafts.
  • Independence and concentration, including choosing an activity on their own and being able to focus on an activity for up to 20 minutes.
  • Emotional development, like the ability to say goodbye to a parent or caregiver, eagerness to go to school, and the desire to make friends.
  • Stamina, with the energy and resilience to adapt to new routines and structure while transitioning to only one nap during the school day.

The Alvarenga family has been part of MPA for several years, and has seen how the school’s early education programming sets the stage for academic and personal achievement. “I would tell a family who was considering MPA that by partnering up with MPA, they are choosing a school where their child’s, physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and educational needs will be considered and supported. Parenting is a greater challenge than we could have possibly imagined. Partnering with MPA to help us educate and raise our children gives us a great sense of comfort in knowing that the school we chose is as devoted to seeing our children develop to their full potential as we are.”

Learn more about it: The Best Pre-K Programs

  • NAEYC’s 10 standards for early childhood programs are based on research on the development and education of young children.
  • Review the MPA PreK program philosophy, including PreK curriculum descriptions and a sample daily schedule.
  • Visit us at MPA! Register for the All-School Preview on January 26, or schedule a personal tour by contacting the Office of Admission at 651-748-5577 or via email.

Invest In The Future: Choose A Private School Education

8th grade students watching a robotThere aren’t a lot of sure things in life. Financial markets are volatile; fashion is fickle, and this year’s winning team can snooze next season. In an unpredictable world, one of the best bets you can make is investing in a rigorous and empowering college prep education that will pay life-long dividends for your child.

Research from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) demonstrates that independent schools—including private institutions like Mounds Park Academy—prepare students for academic success, with graduating seniors at NAIS schools achieving substantially higher SAT results. Additionally, independent schools strengthen 21st century skills, with graduates spending more time asking questions in class, evaluating the quality or reliability of information, and looking for alternative solutions to a problem.

Independent schools also nurture in students the desire for a future that combines economic success with social responsibility and personal fulfillment. The data shows that graduates from NAIS schools were more likely than public school graduates to feel it is important or essential to be community leaders or become successful in their own businesses.

Excellence And MPA
Mounds Park Academy is one of the top two private schools in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area and one of the nation’s top STEM schools. We have a proven track record for excellence that seamlessly merges academics, arts and athletics in a welcoming environment that provides personalized attention. MPA cultivates each child’s strengths and fosters a love of learning, equipping students to make their mark individually and improve our global community. Mounds Park Academy families hail from 64 different zip codes throughout the greater Twin Cities and western Wisconsin, and reflect a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Read More

Share Your Passion At Maker Fest

Makers at MPA Maker Fest 2019Do you love to craft, create, tinker, and make? Join us on February 22 from 1-3 PM for Maker Fest 2020! Sign up here to share your Maker talents, either individually or with a group to have your very own display table at MPA Maker Fest. This is the perfect opportunity to “show and tell” something that you have created and share your accomplishments with the community. Maker Fest is free is open to everyone–students, parents, grandparents, alums, faculty, staff, etc. We can’t wait to see your creations!

If you have questions, please contact Ms. Koen at nkoen@moundsparkacademy.org.

Say “Thanks!” With The Parents Association

middle school social studies class discussionMPA Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week is coming up! Save the date for February 3-7. This week is an opportunity to show thanks and appreciation to our wonderful faculty and staff during Lower and Middle School Conference week. A SignUp Genius link will be coming soon, where parents can sign-up to donate drinks and/or help the week of the event.  Thank you for showing your appreciation with us!

Who Mentored You?

alumni and mpa senior talking at the alumni mentor network programby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

My earliest recollection of my career aspirations is from when I was four or five. I remember having it narrowed down to two possibilities: gas station attendant and trash collector. I hope enough of you are old enough to remember when there were attendants who pumped gas, washed windshields, and checked the oil. For most of us, our thoughts about a career in our early years come from our role models, those we looked up to and wanted to emulate. My aspirations changed as I did and teaching became my desired career path.

Mentors and role models play a crucial part of our academic, ethical, and professional development. Their influence cannot be taken for granted as they help shape our values, actions, and behaviors. In the professional world, mentors and role models can influence our career paths as well as provide practical advice and insight into the workplace. They can also help to form and strengthen valuable connections that often lead to future employment. As it is said, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know.” Read More

Kindergartners Partner With Kowalski’s Market To Make An Impact

kindergarten student and fifth grader holding the bags they made togetherMounds Park Academy’s service-learning process and partnership with Kowalski’s Market is making an impact! It all began when MPA kindergartners learned the letter “T” for “turtles.” They discovered that sea turtles are dying by mistaking plastic bags in their ocean habitat for food. Then, they learned the word “activist” for the letter “A.” Through responsibility, courage, and inclusiveness, they joined the Upper School students at a weekly morning meeting to message ways to save sea turtles. The kindergartners also composed a letter to Kris Kowalski, owner of Kowalski’s Market, expressing their concern around plastic bags.

In their letter, the kindergartners acknowledged positive things Kowalski’s Market is already doing to make a difference in the community. Kowalski’s displays signage in their parking lots reminding customers to bring their reusable bags from the car, and they give five cents back to the customer for each reusable bag. Kris responded to the students’ letters, sharing more helpful information about their cause. The students learned more about consumer choices and individual responsibility for taking care of our environment. She included the Kowalski’s “Breakdown of the Bags” to help them be informed consumers.

MPA students develop academic, social, and life skills through the design thinking process. Therefore, the kindergarten class decided to make their reusable grocery bags in the Makerspace to be sold Kowalski’s Market. As the first step, kindergartners saw several prototype canvas bags and shared observations about the value in each bag. They carefully looked at the designs and sizes to determine which would be best for the consumer. After being donated canvas fabric and materials, they were ready to begin making their bags! Read More

Meet Annie Stewart ’11

Annie stewart '11Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Annie Stewart ’11!

After attending MPA from grades 6-12, Annie Stewart ’11 went to St. Olaf College for four years and graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Theater. She worked at a number of theater companies in St. Paul and Minneapolis before finding her way back to MPA as a substitute teacher and PreK teaching assistant. She worked in MPA’s Lower School for a year before deciding to go back to school to pursue her K-6 teaching license and Masters in Elementary Education! Annie says that it was working at MPA that helped solidify her passion for teaching, and she is so thankful for all of the experiences that led her to where she is today.

“MPA was such an important place and community for many years of my academic career,” said Annie. “Now, as I am completing a license and Masters, I use the tools and skills I learned at MPA on a daily basis. Most importantly, I am excited to teach and that love of teaching comes from the teachers and community I had at MPA. I’m especially looking forward to teaching the next generation of students how to think, not just what to think.” Read More

The Impact Of Singapore Math At MPA

student listening to teacher in classby Renee Wright, Lower School director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of 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.

Looking back over the past 30 years as a Lower School teacher, one of my most challenging subjects to teach was math. Some students were successful, and some were not. Some students loved math, while others didn’t care for it at all. How would I address these challenges? I knew it was my job to teach math concepts and make sure these skills could be applied. At the same time, I wanted students to love math and feel confident. I was not alone with these concerns.

Teachers often report that problem solving is one area that presents the largest challenge for students. It is not uncommon for students to feel anxious or frustrated when asked to solve challenging mathematical word problems. In fact, students often give up before even trying. Problem solving in math often causes students to feel incompetent and believe they aren’t good at math. This can lead to a negative mindset about math and becomes a huge barrier to future success in the subject. Six years ago, teachers and administrators at MPA started looking for a math program to address these challenges. After much research, the Singapore Math curriculum was selected and adopted in grades kindergarten through fifth. Read More

Save The Date For Maker Fest 2020

makers at maker fest 2019Join us on February 22 from 1-3 PM in the AnnMarieThomas Makerspace and cafeteria, where you can either host your own table or come as a spectator!

You can sign up here to share your Maker talents, either individually or with a group to have your very own display table at MPA Maker Fest. This is the perfect opportunity to “show and tell” something that you have created and share your accomplishments with the community. Maker Fest is free is open to everyone–students, parents, grandparents, alums, faculty, staff, etc. We can’t wait to see your creations!

If you have questions, please contact Ms. Koen at nkoen@moundsparkacademy.org.