We’re Number One!

students celebrating our rankingby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

For most of our school’s history, MPA was considered the best-kept secret in the East Metro. Our humble beginning led to an institutional humility that while we enjoyed great success, we were a bit hesitant to say that too loud or too often. That humility was one aspect of MPA that I clearly identified with, personally and professionally. The lack of a sense of entitlement and elitism at MPA is consistent with the admonishment of my parents “to let my actions speak louder than my words.” However, when words and actions do align, people begin to take note and affirmation and recognition soon follow.

Such was the case last week when MPA received news that our school is now ranked #1 among the 62 private schools in the state of Minnesota according to Niche.com and #60 among 2,525 private schools in the United States. Many of you are probably familiar with Niche, an online, crowd-sourced review of schools, colleges, and neighborhoods. Built upon the reviews and recommendations, Niche also incorporates quantitative data in making their determinations. Read More

Thriving In Class, On Campus And At Home

ms. Murr teaching her hybrid classAt the front of her hybrid classroom, Upper School history teacher Katie Murr sits facing her physically-distant classroom of students faces, in person and on screen. Behind her, the virtual students’ faces are also projected on the whiteboard to face the rest of their peers. The room is equipped with an Owl Pro speaker and a brand new mobile screen to keep her virtual students connected in the classroom, even from home.

Though the class is physically in two places at once, the student experience remains whole. In a recent classroom discussion about the presidential and vice presidential debates, students on campus and online popcorned their way through their thoughts and questions. At each hand that was raised, Katie listed who was next in the discussion queue. “It feels ‘normal!'” Ms. Murr remarks. “It’s working, because I can still enable an engaging discussion.” Read More

Meet the Short Herring Family

Harper and Carter Short in the science roomDr. Courtney Herring, pediatrician and member of MPA’s COVID-19 Community Advisory Group, and her children, Carter (grade 6) and Harper (grade 5) share how their experience is going so far this fall at MPA.

How is MPA making sure you’re safe at school?

Harper: MPA has been and always will be my favorite school. They have spent a lot of time on making sure everyone is six feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands. MPA has kept me educated and safe.

How is MPA incorporating the important tasks of building community and maintaining joy while still ensuring the safety of all constituents?

Dr. Herring: The task of re-opening any school during a population health crisis is daunting. The administration and staff at MPA worked tirelessly to build-in safety provisions with logistical planning required to allow our children to return to the classroom. Whereas safety is first, social development and academic delivery should not be demoted to second-level importance. MPA understood these principles and picked up the gauntlet in a way that makes all of us should proud to be part of our “Dream Big. Do Right.” family. By not losing focus, our students have been re-engaged and families supported while relationships continue to be built through in-person and virtual platforms.

Read More

Important Clarification About Virtual Grandparents & Special Friends Week

lower school student with their special noteDue to our essential COVID-19 safety measures, we are unable to host Grandparents and Special Friends on campus next week or gather as a school community for any type of live performance. Instead, we are excited to offer a virtual week aimed at celebrating the special relationships between our students and their grandparents and loved ones.

For those Grandparents and Special Friends who have registered, they may expect:

  1. On Monday, a special email release of pre-recorded classroom videos that will allow them to take a glimpse inside the day of an MPA student. In Lower School, we will send one or two videos per grade level. In Middle School, we will release one compilation video of several classes.
  2. On Monday and Tuesday, a special album on MPA’s Flickr page that will be updated regularly capturing photos and videos of happenings on campus.
  3. On Monday and Tuesday, regular Facebook posts that highlight the special relationship that our young people have with their grandparents and special friends.
  4. On Wednesday, a no classes day, we encourage families to reach out to their grandparents and special friends via phone, Zoom, or physically distanced outdoor visits.
  5. On Thursday, MPA’s Facebook page will feature a “flash back” to previous Grandparents and Special Friends Days on campus.
  6. Sometime during the week, a special hand-written note from their grandchild or special friend created on campus and mailed to their home.

We’re looking forward to sharing a joyful week with grandparents and special friends! If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Goetzke, assistant director of development, at agoetzke@moundsparkacademy.org.

Not Obstacles, Opportunities

kindergarten exploring in the new gardenby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Over the summer, a transformation took place at MPA. A little known and underutilized courtyard tucked away between the Lower School and our new Martin Lenz Harrison Library became a magical garden of discovery and joyfulness. What was grass is now a place where students can witness the growth and life, get their hands dirty, reconnect with the earth, and enjoy the bounty of fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Each section of the garden is marked by hand-painted stones with the name of the plant in English, French, and Spanish. The garden is the realization of a vision shared with me by Lower School parent Michelle Mick. Together with husband Tim, children Isaac and Freya, Chef Doug, Upper School student Samantha Forgosh, Class of 2019 alum Jaeden McFarland, and grounds staff Andy and Josh, Michelle created this charming and enchanting space for all to enjoy.

Fast forward to this week when the Lower School gathered virtually to launch CHAMP for the 2020-21 school year. In case you are not familiar with CHAMP, it stands for Character Happens At Mounds Park. CHAMP is a time-honored program wherein a character trait is chosen to explore with students throughout the school year in the classroom, in special assemblies, service-learning, music, art, and drama. This year’s theme, perseverance, is particularly relevant given the challenges presented by the pandemic. Read More

Important COVID-19 Update

lower school student doing morning screeningSince the spring, we have been hard at work planning and refining to welcome students back to campus. As we have shared all along, we know that while there is no such thing at zero risk while the pandemic continues to impact to so many, one thing has become very clear over the previous seven weeks of school: our layered approach of protective and preventative measures is working.

Thanks to our community’s diligence, we have had zero instances of community spread on campus. Some community members have been impacted by this terrible virus outside of the school hours. During the month of September, four MPA community members contracted the virus due to outside exposure to it. Our planning allowed our teams to quickly mobilize, work with the Minnesota Department of Health, and move through our 49-point flow chart that guides our contact tracing.

As a school, we are committed to ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of our community and appreciate your partnership in addressing rumors or concerns head on. It is also important to reiterate again that if you or your family has been exposed as a close contact to a case of COVID-19 connected to the school, you will hear from us immediately. This is our deep and sincere commitment to you. Read More

More Opportunities To Connect With The Parents Association

Michelle Mick and Doug in the new gardensParents Connect Wednesday Mornings
The Parents Association invites parents and guardians to get together Wednesday mornings after drop off. Mark your calendars, it will be fun!

Wednesday, October 21 will be a 30 minute walk with Michelle Mick. We’ll meet in the Lower School Parking lot and head out, rain or shine. Chat with new parents and connect with friends. Younger children are welcome to walk with us. Remember to bring a mask to all events! Hope to see you there!

Apple Picking
An apple picking outing to beautiful Aamodt’s Farm in Stillwater is in the works! We’ll wear masks, plus any MPA gear (lanyards would be perfect) you have, and stay physically distant and safe. Stay tuned for more details.

Growing In Unexpected Ways

Ishika and other students playing charadesby Ishika Muppidi, MPA senior

Ishika spent her summer with Breakthrough Twin Cities (BTC), a local organization closely partnered with MPA. Breakthrough is a challenging academic enrichment program for highly motivated, under-resourced students, where all the teachers are high school and college students.

I chose to get involved with Breakthrough for a number of reasons, one being that I had heard of it from a variety of different people. I thought it would be a good way for me to see what being a teacher felt like, as that’s always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve had such good experiences at MPA with my teachers and I wanted to be able to give similar experiences and support to other students. When I was in Mexico, my options were limited because I wasn’t fluent in Spanish, so I couldn’t really join any programs that allowed me to help younger students, and I often just ended up helping my peers. I had a lot of fun, but when I came back and heard of Breakthrough, it was an opportunity for me to do what I hadn’t been able to do before. I’ve always loved helping people, even with the smallest of things, and Breakthrough allows me to do that with those who really need it. Read More

Fostering Essential, Independent Thinkers

third grader working hands on in the classroomby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently stepped into a third-grade classroom and taught a lesson on fractured fairy tales. Students were learning about the essential elements of good writing—the setting of the story, the plot, and point of view. By placing the traditional fairy tale of the “Three Little Pigs” in the context of the culture and geography of the Southwest, students critically analyzed the text and discussed the writer’s choices. By asking questions such as the significance of a house made of tumbleweed instead of straw, saguaro instead of sticks, or an adobe house instead of a brick house, they also were learning the important skill of critical thinking.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve written on two particular weighty issues: antiracism and civil discourse. What is common to both topics is critical thinking. The work of dismantling racism depends on the ability to think critically about what laws, cultural norms, and policies perpetuate racism. Likewise, critical thinking is fundamental to civil discourse by insisting that ideas, opinions, and beliefs are both intellectually grounded and evidence-based. Read More

Important MSHSL Update & Winter Sports Registration

Girls basketball 2019Mounds Park Academy Winter Sports Registration is now live on the Athletic website. The Minnesota State High School League approved this morning that winter sports are a go for 2020-2021. Winter sports will be reduced to 70% of a normal season, 2 meets/games per week. Programs may change due to health and safety recommendations. If you have any questions please let contact the athletics office.

Start dates:
Alpine and Nordic Skiing: November 30
Boys Basketball: November 23
Boys Hockey: November 23
Girls Basketball: December 7

Schedules for each program will be reconfigured to meet the MSHSL requirements. Click here to register >

The Minnesota State High School League voted down tournament play past Sections in all Fall sports. There will be no State tournaments for the Fall season.