2021 Commencement Rescheduled

Due to the extreme heat advisory and air quality alert in place today, the Mounds Park Academy Class of 2021 Commencement outdoor event has shifted to Sunday, June 6 at 9 AM. This will help us ensure a safer and more pleasant graduation experience for our seniors and their families, as well as staff and faculty.

The entire community is invited to join us live on Facebook or YouTube for the Mounds Park Academy Class of 2021 Commencement! Thank you for supporting our students and cheering them on from afar as they graduate from MPA!

Watch live on Facebook >

Watch live on YouTube >

A Legacy Of Resiliency And Perseverance

Prek students at track and field dayby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

As we close out the school year, I couldn’t help but think of the prologue from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The series of paradoxes in the prologue rang true as I reflected upon this past year. We are living though one of the most extraordinary moments of our lives when just about everything has been turned upside down and called into question. Who could have imagined all that we would be faced with this year—a world-wide pandemic, social unrest, political discord, and racial reckoning?

If the pandemic has been a paradox, then this school year has been nothing less than a triumph. In the midst of darkness and despair, we found light and hope, resiliency, and perseverance. And while I sometimes take it for granted, I am reminded that is no simple feat to remain open throughout the school year and preserve the continuity of learning. It is true we’ve had our share of challenges and low points; our community is stronger and more resilient than ever.

In my first Panther Post message of this school year, I quoted author Diane Coutu who observed that resilient people possess three characteristics—a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. As I reflect upon this school year, I believe that our school and students have certainly demonstrated these characteristics. Resiliency and perseverance will be the legacy of our collective journey this year.

Even as this school year draws to a close, the Administrative Team has been hard at work throughout the spring planning for our next school year. Like we did at this time last year, we began by naming the values that would guide all decision-making, beginning with the health and safety of our community, on-campus and in-person learning, and a joyful, whole-child hands-on, experiential, exceptional learning. While there may be some necessary mitigation strategies, we will be monitoring the guidance from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Public Health throughout the summer and adjust plans accordingly. However, as vaccination rates climb higher and higher and young children begin to be vaccinated, fewer and fewer health and safety measures will be needed.

This is certainly a week to celebrate and I am pleased to bring back so many of our time-honored traditions, such as Kindergarten Graduation, Moving Up Ceremonies for the fourth and eighth grades, Lower School Vocabulary Bee, Track and Field Days, and Yearbook Assembly. On Saturday, we will bid farewell to a group of amazingly talented leaders and students who I am certain will continue to dream big and do right in all that lies ahead of them.

I want to thank you for entrusting your children to us. I also want to express my gratitude for investing in the school and our faculty and staff through your philanthropic giving. I am continually in awe of the generosity of our parent community and the strong partnership we have. Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to coming together again in August.

Become A Parents Association Grade Rep!

middle school students smiling togetherThe Parents Association is looking forward to the incoming school year and the Grade Rep program, which is integral in building our school community. If you’re interested in becoming a grade rep for the 2021-2022 school year, please email Julie Bixby at juliebixby1@gmail.com. If you’re currently a grade rep, thank you for all your work in keeping us together over this challenging year. The Parents Association will assume you want to continue as a grade rep unless you choose to opt out by contacting Julie Bixby.

Preparing For The Post-Pandemic World

8th Grade engineering showcase in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

The pandemic has disrupted nearly all aspects of our lives and society. Families, civic life, the economy, and our government are just a few of the institutions that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. At the expense of being branded “Captain Obvious,” education has also been tremendously impacted by the pandemic. Most of the conversation has been about what students have lost, and rightly so. Many educators have great concerns about a significant learning gap for students who spent the year learning remotely. Poor mental health resulting from sustained isolation is also worrisome.

While there have been losses, students have also experienced tremendous gains. Over the last year, students were confronted with numerous challenges that they had never encountered before that they needed to overcome. Students had to learn how learn remotely, to discover new ways to express themselves and their ideas, and develop a measure of autonomy, independence, and personal responsibility. They also learned how to care for themselves and overcome isolation. They learned how to push though difficulty, bounce back after failure, and try something new. Read More

MPA Eighth Graders Making An Impact

In conjunction with their human rights research paper in social studies class, eighth graders researched charities aligning with a chosen human rights issue in their English classes using Charity Navigator and their charity’s website. Then, combining the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos, they created a TED Talk, speech, video, or print ad to persuade their peers to vote for their charity. Each of the three winners, Alex B., on behalf of The Sierra Club Foundation, Steve L. on behalf of Save the Children, and Zoya N. on behalf of Equal Justice USA, won a $50 donation to their charity from Ms. Atchison.

Alex B. with his donation“Climate change affects everything in our lives, and will only get worse from now on,” says Alex. “The Sierra Club Foundation is a leading member in the fight to solve climate change and make life better for everyone. They work towards climate solutions and they fight for environmental and social justice.” 86.9% of all donations go to directly to helping the Sierra Club’s four main programs: lands, air, water and wildlife!

Steve L. with his donationThe $50 donation to Steve’s charity Save The Children will provide meals to three children for an entire month. “What if every time you ate, you had to roll the dice to see if you were or not? Save The Children fights for the safety and future of the most unfortunate kids and gives every child, even the ones hardest to reach, voices,” says Steve.

Zoya N. with their donationEqual Justice USA fights for meaningful change and works at the intersection of criminal justice, public health and racial justice. “It’s insufferable that after so many years following the abolishment of slavery, systemic racism still thrives in our institutions and on our streets,” says Zoya. “All of us have heard case after case of police brutality, especially as Minnesotans. EJ USA meets the needs of survivors, advances racial equity, and works to abolish police brutality.”

Save The Date! Homecoming 2021

Alumni at homecoming 2019Save the date to celebrate MPA Homecoming 2021 on Saturday, October 2!

Homecoming weekend is a wonderful way to celebrate who we are, where we come from, and where we are going together. We are thrilled every year to welcome alumni back at home to celebrate a milestone reunion and reconnect with friends. This is an opportunity for all of us to support and celebrate MPA! Come home to connect with us and one another, and to celebrate MPA.

Welcoming MPA’s New Faculty And Staff

MPA is very happy to start introducing new faculty and staff to the MPA community. Several other search processes are ongoing and additional new community members will be introduced soon. Please note: Some of these individuals are familiar faces who have been with us this year in temporary positions. They applied to continue at MPA, completed the application and interview process, and we are so very grateful to re-welcome them to the community long-term.

Page HaublePage Hauble
What position will you be holding at MPA?
Middle School Mathematics Teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
Drake University

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
During my time at Drake University, I have had several opportunities to observe in Des Moines Public School and Greater Des Moines Public Schools classrooms – both remotely and in-person. These experiences have taught me numerous strategies to take into my own secondary classroom in regards to classroom management, differentiation in instruction, utilizing technology, and different teaching styles. I think that teaching requires a level of patience, especially when teaching students about new topics and topics with which they are not confident. The time that I spend outside of school, with my kids that I nanny and babysit, has strengthened my ability to help assess a situation where a student is struggling to learn new material and devise a plan to point them in a direction that makes more sense to them. My ability to socialize and work with others has helped me develop a comfortable level of confidence when observing or teaching a lesson in a classroom.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
For a very new teacher the MPA interview process was new and intriguing. I enjoyed being able to converse with new and old teachers about the positive learning environment that MPA promotes to all children. I was able to seek out how an average lesson in my classroom would look like through the model lesson that I taught during the interview process. The students at MPA were receptive to my teaching, and I thoroughly enjoyed becoming a part of MPA for even just the day.

What’s your big dream?
My biggest dream in life is to create a classroom culture where all students have a chance to succeed in the world of mathematics!

What are you (and/or your family) passionate about?
Traveling is without a doubt one of the most passionate activities for both me and my family. My family and I frequent the west coast, specifically Sun Valley, Idaho, in the winters for downhill skiing and the summer for some mountain hiking! I have also lived and traveled to London, United Kingdom during my college experience. Being able to become a part of someone else’s culture is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I have played 12 different competitive sports!

Anne Pokey PhillipsAnne “Pokey” Phillips
What position will you be holding at MPA?
Middle School Mathematics Teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
Saint Thomas Academy

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I graduated from Breck School and then from Middlebury College. I began my teaching career at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. Once I moved to Minnesota, I taught at St. Paul Academy for many years. After SPA, I taught at Cristo Rey for two years, then Saint Thomas Academy for four years. Now I am very excited to join the MPA community.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
The minute I walked into MPA for my interview I felt this amazing vibe. I was impressed with the welcoming feeling and the wonderful learning environment. I loved the building and all the unique spaces. At one point I told Dr. Milam that I felt I was on a college campus and that was a great thing. When I left the building, I kept saying how impressed I was with everyone I met, the building, and what a wonderful feeling there was throughout the building.

What’s your big dream?
Some day I would like to move to Hilton Head Island, SC.

What are you (and/or your family) passionate about?
I love knitting and animals. A few years ago, I adopted an elderly dog (11 years old) from the animal humane society. I had her for three years before she passed away. Once I am able to, I will adopt another elderly dog. In my free time, I love to knit. My favorite type of knitting is felting.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I was a dolphin trainer before I became a teacher.

Lamar ShinglesLamar Shingles
What position will you be holding at MPA?
Director of Equity and Belonging

From what school/organization are you coming?
Saint Paul College

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I have more than 15 years of experience working in higher education. Joining MPA from Saint Paul College where I was the Director of Student Life & Diversity. Prior to that I served as Director of Membership and Operations for the National Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education, at the University of Minnesota, and Director of Campus Recreation at Hamline University. I completed both his Masters of Science in Administration and Bachelor of Applied Arts in Entrepreneurship and Industrial Technology from Central Michigan University. Fire Up Chips!

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
From the moment I walked into the school, I felt like a guest and not a stranger. Everyone I interacted with was very welcoming and demonstrated a genuine love and appreciation for being part of the MPA community.

What’s your big dream?
Leaving the world better than I found it by helping others to reach and maximize their individual potential.

What are you (and/or your family) passionate about?
I have many passions, but the one that gives me a lot of energy is connecting other people to their own passion. I really enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, learn about who they are and what makes them tick.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I originally went to college to become an engineer. When I am not working or spending time with my family you will find me with a tool in my hand building computers, working on projects around the house or riding a motorcycle. Read More

Diligence Is Needed

ninth graders testing their mousetrap carsby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

If you’ve been in an airport recently, it certainly appears that the pandemic is waning. Having just returned from a short trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit my 81-year-old mother whose health has been failing, I can attest to that. The lines to get through security are getting long again and planes are beginning to fill up again. It’s almost as if life is back to “normal” but we know that it is not, at least not yet.

There is good news as more and more people are getting vaccinated. Minnesota is near the top of the list of states with the highest percentage vaccinated with 64% of Minnesotans 18 years and older having received at least the first dose of the vaccine. And with the FDA recently authorizing the vaccination of children 12 and older, we may be in the last leg of the pandemic.

With all the positive news, it’s easy to forget that we haven’t crossed the finish line just yet. According to the Star Tribune, pandemic activity remains at high levels in Minnesota, which had the second highest rate of new infections in the latest White House COVID-19 state report released last Tuesday. While it is true that the risk is lessening as more people get vaccinated, given the rise in variants, our on-campus dial stop one mode, and increased cases in recent weeks, diligence is needed now more than ever. Read More

Talking With Children About Anti-Racism With Dr. Jazlynn Paige

Lower School Peace GardenDr. Jazlynn Paige is a school psychologist who has her own consulting firm Paige Psychological Consulting, which was founded in 2019. Dr. Paige shared tips for engaging children in difficult conversations about race, racism, and anti-racism with our community during a live parent education session. The thoughts she shared during that session are summarized below for families unable to attend.

Focus On Your Family
Every family is different and everyone has their own perspective with regard to how they view talking about race, racism, and anti-racism. Everyone is coming from a different background. For some families, these are very uncomfortable conversations, and for others they are much easier. But talking about it is important because no matter what age, children are experiencing ideas around race regardless of whether they are being discussed at home or not. Read More

Why MPA Parent Susan Knapp Volunteers

Parker and friends at recessby Susan Knapp (parent of Parker in ninth grade)

For the kids. There is something magical in seeing the joy on the kids’ faces, knowing you had a part in generating that. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into your child’s life at school—at least until they’re teens and don’t want you around at school. See what they’re like with their friends, get to know their class a little better, experience their camaraderie, their joy, and gratitude for the extras volunteers provide.

For the sheer joy of being a part of something bigger. One of the best experiences I’ve had volunteering was being involved in the MS Café. Using my talents and time in ways that I don’t normally has been very rewarding. I loved the teamwork, meeting the challenges, the creativity, and the gratitude and wonder on the kids’ faces as they walked into all of our hard work for the very first time. It was a labor of love and totally worth it. Another great experience was manning the snack room in pre-COVID teacher appreciation week. It’s a very fun way of meeting teachers and staff members, surrounded by sugar and snacks and gratitude. What can be better than that?! Read More