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.


A Transformative Moment For Emotional Development: COVID-19

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.


Vote For William Kim Through April 5!

mpa senior William kimKeep on casting your vote for MPA senior William Kim to be a finalist for the MPR Minnesota Varsity showcase concert! MPR listeners are voting to select one of this year’s 10 Featured Artists to advance to the Showcase concert in May.

Listen online and click here to vote for William until 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 5!


The Power Of A Great Teacher

MPA virtual upper school classby Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

Great teachers make great online teachers. By now, you’ve read or heard me say that repeatedly over the last several weeks. To be honest, other than a few scattered snow days over the last several years, my assertion was more conjecture than evidentiary. However, after several days this week, I know this to be true. Because I know each teacher well, I knew in my heart but I now have proof that MPA teachers are great no matter the platform or medium.

It has been an incredible experience, working together with teachers, staff, and administration, to make the transition to virtual school. Through caffeine, adrenaline, and sheer will, we powered through to rise to the new challenge before us without doubt or hesitation. Frankly, there has never been another option. I didn’t realize this until I received a parent email with the following observation: “In corporate terms, this scale of change would have been vetted and pressure-tested through strategic planning process over a period of months, perhaps a full year’s planning cycle.” The can-do spirit of MPA has inspired us all. Read More


COVID-19 Parent Education Forum

parent and middle school student talking togetherMPA is committed to supporting parents as well as students. You are invited to Parent Education Forum with Dr. Julene Nolan, MPA school psychologist, and head of school Dr. Bill Hudson. The Parent Education Forum is designed to provide parents with the support, guidance, and insights needed to navigate these difficult times.

Please click here to share questions and concerns that are top-of-mind as you begin to navigate supporting your children through the changes that are happening in our world right now. We will use this to craft our time together and guide how we deliver future parent support. An example might be a question, “How do I keep my kids from fighting all the time?” a specific topic, “Screen time rules”, or a suggestion, “Here is something that is working for us.”

Topic: Parent Education Forum
Time: Mar 31, 2020 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 968 108 092
Password: 080517


Junior Hana Miller Celebrates Birthday With Blood Donation Campaign

MPA blood drive postersHana Miller has always been, and continues to be, a vocal advocate for blood donation. Amidst the severe blood shortage in the Twin Cities, which continues to suffer from the spread of COVID-19, Hana is doing right and organizing a blood donation campaign for her birthday this year.

“I’ve donated five times–the first on my 16th birthday–and passed out every time,” she said. “In fact, It was because of the tests that the Red Cross runs on their blood donors that I discovered that I was anemic. An average person should have a blood iron level around 16 and mine was recorded at a three!” After finding out she was ineligible to donate herself, Hana finds herself even more motivated to bring an awareness to blood donation.

The spread of coronavirus has forced a decline in the number of blood drives and donors in the United States “This is actually no surprise, considering the nearly 60% of the US Blood supply comes from donors over 45,” Hana stated. “This means that while the demand for blood has remained the same, possibly even increasing, our ability to meet that demand is decreasing. So considering I was stuck in my house for my birthday, and unable to spend the day as I wanted, I figured that the next best thing I could do was to try to help someone else. I decided to set up the donation campaign through the Red Cross.” Read More