Meet Zainab Lodhi ’25

ZainabThis is Zainab’s second year at MPA. She joined in eighth grade and is currently in ninth grade.

What do you love about MPA?
What I love most about MPA is the community and environment. Not only does MPA provide students with a supportive community, but it also gives an environment that encourages curiosity, and it pushes its students towards improvement rather than pressuring students to constantly succeed. MPA makes me feel safe and respected, which I feel is vital in high school. I have never dreaded going to school at MPA. Everyday feels like a new and exciting experience. MPA truly is one of a kind––not only in its beliefs, but how it implements them to create an experience for each of its students.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA wholeheartedly encourages its students to institute change, gives students the support they need to pursue their passions, and teaches students that everyone can make change. We are not treated like we are ignorant of the “real world,” and instead, given room to grow as individuals. I have felt that this treatment encourages us be unafraid of uncertainty and pursue happiness. Read More

Great Schools Depend On Great Teachers & Staff

from Bill Hudson, Head of School

This is the second of a four-part series of Head’s Messages that dives deep into MPA’s new strategic plan, 2024ward. Today we will outline this priority: Affirm and inspire our exceptional and dedicated faculty and staff through competitive compensation. The first article may be found here. An overview of 2024ward may be found here.

“It’s like baking a lasagna and baking a cake at the same time in the same kitchen, but you can only use one bowl,” responded one teacher when asked in a national survey to describe what teaching has been like during the pandemic. Teachers have demonstrated and modeled incredible resiliency as they pivoted to remote learning, to hybrid learning, and back to in person learning (and back to remote, unfortunately) along with a number of health and safety measures layered upon what typically happens in a classroom. Together with those in the medical field, public health, and first responders, teachers have been real heroes over the last two years.

Nowhere was this more evident to me than observing master teacher Mari Espeland one day in the fall of 2020. Mari was teaching music to two first grade classrooms simultaneously, one via Zoom, without singing. I marveled at the ease in which she transitioned between three distinct learning activities within 30 minutes. However, as a teacher myself, I know that what appeared to be effortless required a great deal of planning, a deep knowledge of music education, a thorough understanding the developmental needs of young learners, and many years of experience. Despite the limitations brought on by the pandemic, the students in Mari’s class were engaged, joyful, and learning about rhythm. Read More

Middle School Division News January 13, 2022

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School Director

Our covid environment is a lot like a giant rollercoaster and that rollercoaster has highs and lows, twists and turns, each day and sometimes moment to moment. So, too, are our emotions and, most especially those of our young people. While we cannot control the environment around us, we can control our response to it—so I’m asking you all to help your students “buckle up” for the loops and bumps in the next few weeks as we navigate this surge and find our way back to the loading platform, all together!

For my younger middle families who are still on campus:

  • Please continue to be diligent about symptom monitoring. The omicron variant of this virus is sneaky and quick—watch for stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and headache.
  • More, do your best to limit high-risk activities and exposure points as best you can—not just for you, but for those around you. The key to our remaining on campus is limiting spread within our community and we need your help for that to happen.
  • Enjoy the time on campus with a little more room to wiggle.

To our big kids and their grown-ups:

  • Symptom monitoring, even at home, is critical! If your student or you are experiencing any viral symptoms, please us know. Tracing, tracking, and ensuring that exposed folks are quarantining for required amounts of time, help us to return safely.
  • Remember, as I shared on our Zoom the other night, please take some time to schedule in advance a Covid-19 test toward the end of next week ahead of our January 24 return date. While most sources are outlining this surge will soon pass, we don’t want to come back to school, together, and find ourselves right back in this spot.
  • Enjoy the time at home—I know that seems weird to say and virtual school is not easy, and not as fun or awesome as being on-campus, but there are some perks in the short term. More time to sleep, more snuggles with pets, better snack options, and, as we approach the end of the quarter, a long weekend to look forward to!

As we approach the long weekend, please note that we do not have school on Monday, January 17, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, nor on Tuesday, January 18, for a teacher professional development day. Grades 7/8 will remain virtual for the rest of next week, while 5/6 will resume classes, on campus, Wednesday, January 19. Read More

Welcome To MPA, Holly Metzler

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Health Office Nurse

From what school/organization are you coming?
M Health Fairview

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I completed my nursing degree in December 2021. This is my first job as a nurse and I am very appreciative of the opportunity! Early in life, I earned a BA in Literature/Art History and a MS in Human Services.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
I’ve heard great things about MPA and wanted the opportunity to work with children of all ages.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to get to know the children at MPA and take good care of them while they are at school 🙂

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
I have two children—Indira is in eighth grade and Everett is in sixth grade at Stillwater Middle School. We enjoy traveling together, trying new activities as a family, and both kids are involved in sports such as lacrosse, skiing, football and golf. In my downtime, I like to exercise, spend time with family and friends, and plan trips.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
My hobbies include singing, songwriting and playing guitar. And I look forward to getting back to music now that nursing school is complete.

Connect With MPA Parents This January

Parent Education Night
Save the Date for a Zoom Parent Education Night! January 27, 6:30-7:45 PM, please join MPA families to learn about neurodiversity in our school community.

Attention Middle School Panthers and Parents
The annual Middle School Café is going tubular this year! Stay tuned and get excited. While we can’t unveil all the details just yet (sorry!), we can say, SAVE THE DATE, Friday, February 25th from 2:30-5:30 PM.

January Walks with Dogs
Join Michelle Mick Friday, January 14 for a walk in a local dog park. Bring your dog or not, we’ll meet at Battle Creek Dog Park, a lovely, big, off-leash dog park with 35 acres at 8:15 AM. Parking is off Upper Afton Road, in the parking lot next to the dog park. Look for Michelle and her dog (Rufus), near the entrance of the dog park.

For your GPS, the address is: 2350 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, MN 55119. The contact person is Michelle Mick, and please feel free to SMS or call 651-328-7312 if you can’t find us!

Microfunding Grants
Looking for Microfunding for your club or classroom? It’s not too late to apply for these PA grants. Please send your applications to Natalie King, our micro-funding chair at Applications can be found here.

Meet The Ruane Family

The Ruane FamilyHow many years have you been part of the MPA community?
Just this one!

What do you love about MPA?
We love how well the faculty and staff have truly gotten to know our children in just a few short months. The small class size has been a wonderful fit for all of our children. Both of our kids in the Lower School feel seen, known, and loved in their classrooms. Their teachers have been able to design goals and opportunities around their specific needs. Our Middle Schooler has been given the opportunity to explore a plethora of new opportunities this year, which has been wonderful. Overall, we just feel like our kids are in very good hands when we drop them off everyday!

What initially attracted you to MPA? 
We love that MPA encourages our children to develop and explore multiple interests simultaneously. The strong triad of an education rich in academics, arts, and athletics really drew us towards MPA. Read More

Innovating Our Future

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Happy new year! I hope that you and your family had an enjoyable break, spending quality time with friends and loved ones.

It was journalist and author William Vaughan who said, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” I suppose I am neither as I was in bed by 10:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. However, I do consider myself an optimist and while as a family we experienced tremendous loss in 2021, I do recognize the many good things that happened. As head of school of Mounds Park Academy, I am grateful that we were safely in-person and on campus for the majority of the year. The dedication and hard work of our amazing faculty and staff, a strong partnership with parents, and the resiliency of our students are certainly to be celebrated.

A new year brings new beginnings. A new year holds promise and opportunity. As a school, we begin the year with a new strategic plan, 2024ward. The new plan builds upon our former plan, Momentum 2020, and captures the energy to embrace the future with opportunity and enthusiasm. Strategic planning is one of the most important responsibilities of the MPA Board of Trustees.

Planning began in early 2019 by a constituent represented task force commissioned by the Board but was halted by the pandemic in the spring of 2020. Instead, the focus of the Board of Trustees and administration shifted from long-range strategic planning to the development a comprehensive scenario analysis and effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Given the demand on the school’s fiscal and human resources necessary to successfully navigate the ongoing pandemic, the board and head of school agreed to embark on an alternative, abbreviated approach. Read More

Parents Connect: January Events

January Events

We are looking forward to connecting with MPA families in 2022! Upcoming events and opportunities to look forward to include Family Education Evenings, All-School Sno Daze activities, Lower School Valentine’s Day party, and Middle School Café. Keep your eye on the Panther Post for sign-ups and opportunities to volunteer!

January Walks with Dogs

Friday, January 7 and 14, join Michelle Mick for a walk in a local dog park. Bring your dog or not, we’ll meet at Battle Creek Dog Park, a lovely, big, off-leash dog park with 35 acres at 8:15 AM. Parking is off Upper Afton Road, in the parking lot next to the dog park. Look for Michelle and her dog (Rufus), near the entrance of the dog park.

For your GPS, the address is: 2350 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, MN 55119. The contact person is Michelle Mick, and please feel free to SMS or call 651-328-7312 if you can’t find us!

Parent Winter Walk at 7 Vines

January 28, 5:45-9 PM, $55. Come enjoy a winter evening and snowshoe walk with other MPA Parents at 7 Vines Vineyard in Dellwood, MN! Ticket Price includes snowshoe rental (with help putting them on!) for a walk around the vineyard lit by twinkling candlelight ice luminaries, a complimentary beverage (mulled wine, kombucha, fancy coffee), four rounds of Bingo for prizes, s’mores, cocoa, and cider. 7 Vines will have exclusive pricing on food and wine that evening, as well. Attendance is limited to 100, and the Parents Association has reserved some spots for this event, but it does sell out. Please let us know if you are interested in joining in the fun by January 10. Contact Staci Banks,, or Venmo the cost of the tickets to @Staci-Banks-Hehenberger. Unfortunately, tickets are not refundable.

Meet The Gruen Family

The Gruen FamilyThe Gruen Family lives in White Bear Lake, MN. Christine Gruen was an MPA student for four years, and this is her first year as an MPA parent! Max is in tenth grade and Samantha is in eighth.

What do you love about MPA?
I love that the teachers take the time to get to know students and genuinely care about their success and well being. I love that my children feel comfortable approaching their teachers if they ever need help or guidance. I love that MPA is a small family-type community. I love that my children are experiencing amazing learning opportunities that can be used in everyday life. I love seeing my children happy!!

What initially attracted you to MPA?
We had recently relocated to MPA from California. I was attracted to the warm welcome we received by both faculty and students, and the sense of acceptance my children received as transfer students.

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
My children are inspired by their teachers to become the best versions of themselves, whatever that may be. They are always encouraged and challenged. Read More

Charting Our Path Forward

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As we approach the end of the calendar year, the song “Auld Lang Syne” will be sung at New Year’s Eve gatherings, a related song by Dan Fogelberg from 1980 will be repeatedly played on Sirius/XM radio, or folks will sing along at the finale of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ve never quite been able to remember, let alone pronounce, the words to the song, “Auld Lang Syne.” Nor can I carry a tune, for that matter. And yet I find the meaning behind the lyrics and music particularly poignant this year.

Just a year ago, there was great hope and optimism that the strife of 2020 would give way to a better year. And yet, in so many ways, it seems as though we are in nearly the same place as a year ago. It is clear to me that we will be battling with the virus for quite some time and working through its aftermath. Over the last year, we have faced both joys and challenges, managed hopes and anxieties, experienced growth and endured hardship, suffered isolation and celebrated community, persevered and remain mired in an all too familiar place.

There is much to be learned by reflecting upon our individual and collective journey over the past year. All of us—students, parents, teachers, and staff—are re-learning what it means to “do school,” how to be in relationship with one another, and the values that hold us together. All the while with masks on our faces and risk mitigation measures that sometimes have the unintended consequence of keeping us apart. Read More