Thriving Through Winter in Minnesota

student playing in the snow at recessWith any relocation, there are many moving parts as families transition their lives somewhere new–one of them being your first Minnesota winter! Minnesota has a climate that allows us to experience four distinct seasons. With the right mindset and preparation, experiencing the transformation from one season to the next is inspirational and invigorating. Here’s how you can set your family on a path to thrive, not just survive, through your new favorite season here.

Keep Kids Moving
The winter months can get long here in Minnesota. It’s cold outside and there is less daylight, so it can be hard to stay motivated, but physical activity is important for everyone all year round–especially young children. Physical activity is vital to a child’s success emotionally, physically, and mentally. It helps them build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and prevents chronic diseases. Physical activity is beneficial for the development of cognitive skills, which can help kids stay more focused in the classroom. It also helps kids sleep better and significantly reduces stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

At Mounds Park Academy, we believe in the importance of physical activity and encourage students to be active outdoors throughout the year. We know that children need time to play and socialize, so our students have recess every day—even in the winter. Although it’s colder outside, all it takes is a few extra layers. The benefits are seen in the classroom as well as on the rosy faces of our students.

MPA students also embrace winter through their activities and athletics, such as the Middle and Upper School Alpine (downhill) ski team, Middle and Upper School Nordic (cross country) ski team, the boys hockey team, grade level group outdoor adventures like snowtubing, and Northern MN i-Term adventures like dogsledding. Read More

Middle School Division News December 1, 2022

Middle School teacher and student working in the makerspace
from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

As we find ourselves in the cold, snowy, wintery weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break, it’s important to help your student focus on consistency with their habits related to completing work, getting enough sleep, eating good and healthy food, and finding quality downtime (screen-free is always a good idea!). Because this time of year can be hectic and challenging for adults, and because we know young people regulate (emotionally, socially, and psychologically) with the grown-ups around them, it is important that we offer calm, consistent, and caring support for them and take care of ourselves, too. One of my favorite podcasts takes a new approach to self-care and compassion and its relation to how we care for others…rather than the age-old wisdom to “put your oxygen mask on first,” she suggests filling our own cup so much that it overflows, and it is from that overflow that we give to those who depend on us and need us to be ever more present in their days.

Fill your cups so that they overflow … what a great goal for December!

Many of you have reached out looking for ways to reconnect with the community after two long years apart, and we have a great idea we think you’ll love! We’re looking to begin a new initiative in the Middle School—A Parent Showcase! Several parents have offered to share their time, talents, hobbies, professions, and interests with our middle school students via a short presentation given during afternoon advisory time. These showcases would happen on B-days from 2:20-3 PM once or twice a month, depending on the volume of presenters and grade-level match. If this interests you, please fill out this form, and we will contact you to schedule your showcase!

We look forward to learning more about you and growing our community!

ISACS Parent Education Series–JOIN US TONIGHT!
Parents and families, we hope you will join other independent school parents for one of several evening sessions led by an exceptional and highly regarded team of experts to help you support your children in all areas of their development. We look forward to learning right along with you! The next upcoming webinar is:

Gift of Failure
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Jessica Lahey, Educator & Author

From ISACS: Modern parenting has become defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness. We all know parents who rush to school to deliver forgotten assignments, challenge teachers on disappointing report cards, mastermind their children’s friendships or interfere on the playing field. According to bestselling author, Jessica Lahey, “overparenting” has the potential to both ruin children’s confidence and undermine their education. By letting go and allowing children to learn how to solve problems on their own, we give them the tools to grow up to be self-reliant, confident, and successful adults. That’s the Gift of Failure. Jessica reminds us that teachers, and others who work with children, also teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills that shape stronger futures. Lahey champions failure as a crucial element of long-term success while providing indispensable advice to parents for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, competitive sports, and more. All are invited. The recording of this webinar will be available until January 31, 2023.

Registration is free, but pre-registration is required! Please register here to attend from the comfort of your home! Register here.

Middle School Transition Conversations–Share with those you know!
I’ll be offering two additional meetings for rising Middle School families to learn more about Middle School at MPA, to ask questions, and share in the excitement and wonder of this next important phase in students’ educational journey. Please mark your calendar for Thursday, December 8, 3:30 PM, and/or Tuesday, December 13, 8:15 AM. We will have coffee and hot tea and some light refreshments available. No need to RSVP, just join us if you can! Read More

MPA Board Of Trustees Seeking Nominations

middle school students working in the makerspaceMPA’s Board of Trustees collaborates with the Head of School to guide the school’s strategic direction, to protect its mission, to support the school’s development efforts and to safeguard the school’s financial stability.

Nominations for Trustees
We are pleased to share that the Governance Committee of the Board is launching its annual process to identify potential trustees.

If you, or someone you know, could be a strong contributor to the MPA Board of Trustees, please provide the name of your nominee and a short description of their experience and background, directly to Cherie Honan, executive assistant to the head of school, at

In addition to strong leadership skills, nominees will bring a broad diversity of experience and backgrounds, and a passion to advance the mission of MPA. Areas of desired professional experience include: finance, accounting, investment, banking, business, communications, construction, education, law, governance, scientific training, the arts, IT, human resources, strategic planning, development, marketing, and community service, among others.

Trustees serve up to two three-year terms, participating in MPA Board meetings five to six times a year, in addition to participating in monthly standing committees.

The Governance committee will evaluate all nominees and reach out to shortlisted candidates for further information and interview. Candidates recommended by the Governance Committee will be presented to the full Board at its May 2023 meeting, and approved trustees will begin their first three-year term as of July 2023. Onboarding and training is provided to all trustees.

For more information on the Board and its working committees, please see the Board page on the MPA website.

Parents Association News & Events: December 1, 2022

Pies for MPA faculty and staffPie Love
Right before the holiday break, the MPA Parents Association participated in our annual Thanksgiving Pie distribution to all staff. This year staff had a choice of apple, pumpkin or lemon meringue pie! Thanks to Chef Chris for ordering and Cherie and the Development team for helping with distribution.

Book Festival Is Almost Here! Support the Joy of Reading at MPA.
The annual MPA Book Festival arrives next Monday, just in time for Winter Break reading or holiday gifts! This year the book festival is in-person once again.

Ways to Support MPA’s Book Festival:

  1. Visit the Gallery to purchase new books and gift cards. During the week of the Book Festival, Usborne will be selling books in the Gallery, and Valley Bookseller gift cards will be available for purchase. A portion of the profits generated from those sales will be donated to our library.
  2. Help build a teacher’s classroom library. We will have the books our teachers requested for their classroom libraries available for purchase in the Gallery. Check or cashless payment only.  You can hand-deliver the books you select, or we can deliver them for you. Download the list here.
  3. Visit the Used Book Sale. LS used books will be sold in the LS Atrium at drop off and pick up. MS and US used books will be sold during lunch and recess outside the Family Commons. We have an excellent selection of books for all ages. All proceeds raised from the Used Book Sale benefit the library.

Book Discussions All Week!

  1. December 5, 8 AM in the Gallery: Book Festival Kick-Off Coffee with book recommendations
  2. December 7, 6 PM in the Library: Book Club with Dr. Hudson
  3. December 8, 3-4 PM in the Family Commons: Cocoa and Popcorn Storytime, Upper Schoolers will host a story time for Lower Schoolers. Sign-up here to attend.

middle school students reading in the libraryCan’t make it into school that week? Valley Bookseller is dedicating their affiliate link to our Book Festival. We must use this website, not the Valley Bookseller site, for the school to get a portion of our purchases. All books must be shipped to your home. Email with questions. Happy Reading! Read More

Founders’ Day 2022

middle school students playing in the leavesby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I invite you and your family to our annual pancake breakfast next Wednesday, December 7, from 7-8 AM to celebrate Founders’ Day. Founders’ Day celebrates the official date that the school was established. This is a very special celebration, and what better way to mark the school’s founding than with a delicious pancake breakfast made by members of the MPA Board of Trustees?! This year, the day is being made extra special with an all-school pajama day in honor of the Book Festival.

My family spent a quiet Thanksgiving with my husband Ross’ brother and sister-in-law. We gathered for the annual Olson Family Lefse and Flatbread Making Day on Saturday. True North Dakotan Norwegians Willard and Vernita would spend a day making lefse and flatbread for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to enjoy over the Christmas holidays. Now that they have both passed away, we started a new tradition of getting together as a family to make the lefse and flatbread. It is a beautiful day of remembering, telling stories, arguing over which of Vernita’s lefse recipes we should use, working together to roll the perfectly rounded lefse, nurturing a shared identity, and sharing a meal. Read More

Eighth Graders Collaborate Their Way To State Future Cities Competition

first place future cities teamCongratulations to our eighth graders moving on to the Future City State competition, and to our All-Stars, who really went above and beyond working in their groups!

The Future City Competition combines a dedication to sustainability with a commitment to the project’s hard work. It requires a 1500-word essay, a 2’x4’ 3D model with working parts, a presentation to a group of industry experts, and a Q&A session with said experts. There are rubrics for each deliverable, so the top three teams are decided strictly on points.

The spirit of collaboration is strong within the Future Cities project, from students working together on a team to utilizing interdisciplinary skills among them. Mr. Milam notes that “one of the coolest parts of this project is that it is a collaboration between my class, Ms. Atchison’s class, Ms. MacPhail’s class, and with Mr. Braafladt in the Makerspace. Read More

Help Keep MPA Children Safe

Student entering school in the morningIt is MPA’s number one priority to provide the safest campus environment possible for you and your children. Lately, we have noticed an uptick in risky driving behavior in our parking lots and drive-thru lanes.

We ask that you share this critical information with all of the drivers in your home and others who may provide transportation for you. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Drive-Thru Lanes
We realize it can be frustrating in the morning and afternoon as students unload/reload all of their things for the day and that many drivers are in a hurry to get to where they need to be. In the interest of safety, courtesy, and efficiency, we ask that drivers refrain from pulling in front of another car or “leap-frogging” to the front. To make the process as efficient as possible, please pull up all the way to the crosswalk to allow maximum space in the drive-thru lanes. Please help ensure no gaps are present in the drive-thru lanes, even if that means your child needs to wait or walk further to enter the vehicle.

Entering and Exiting the Car
Children should only be allowed to enter and exit the car from the right/curbside in the drive-thru lanes. If you need to leave the vehicle to help your children in or out, please do so with great caution. Additionally, if you park in a lot during drop off and/or pick up, please take extra precautions to ensure your child is safe and uses the appropriate crosswalks to enter the building. No Lower School student should cross the crosswalk into the parking lot without an adult caregiver by their side. Read More

Afterschool Activities and Care Canceled This Afternoon

Due to the weather, all afterschool activities, including games, practices, Panther Club/Den, Middle School study hall, and meetings are canceled this afternoon, Tuesday, November 29. MPA will remain in session until our regular dismissal time of 3 PM.

The families of District 622 and Minneapolis bus riders will be communicated with directly as soon as possible regarding modified bus schedules. All other buses will run as usual, although they may be running late.

PreK Panther, Panther Club, and Panther Den will remain open until all children are picked up; however, families are asked to arrive as quickly as possible after 3 PM so our faculty and staff can travel home as well.

Email if you have any questions. Please drive safely!

RSVP Today For The PreK-12 MPA Preview

upper school student in a chemistry labThe PreK-12 Preview is the perfect opportunity to discover why you belong at MPA! You and your entire family are warmly invited to attend the PreK-12 MPA Preview on Sunday, January 22, 2023 at 2 PM. RSVP here!

The PreK-12 MPA Preview is designed to introduce you to the faculty, students, and families who make MPA the exceptional learning community it is. You’ll hear from various perspectives, be engaged in conversation with academic leaders, and leave with a much better understanding of the MPA way. These events are designed for family members of all ages to attend together and will include division-specific time. Read More

What Students Discover In Ninth Grade At MPA

Upper School chemistry class in a labAt Mounds Park Academy, Upper School is demanding, but not draining. The rigorous college-preparatory curriculum is balanced and always focused on the application of learning rather than memorization. Whether studying chemical processes up close and hands-on, diving deep into constitutional law, or taking on a character through the art of improvisation, our students connect their profound content knowledge to the world in ways that prepare them to make an impact.

So, what will you discover when you begin your Upper School journey at MPA?

Rigor With Purpose
“I love the sense of high expectation coupled with a supportive environment which I think is so key for my daughter,” says MPA alum and Upper School parent Dr. Sirid Kellermann ’88. “It can be challenging to recognize and play up your strengths, and to work on the things you’re not so hot at academically.”

Academic rigor peaks in Upper School at MPA, intentionally woven into Upper School students’ education every day. In addition to asking the “why” and “how” behind their lessons, Upper School teachers also ask more of their students, and synchronously, students expect more from their peers. This beautiful balance results in classes that are engaging, hands-on, and challenging. Rigor means that students are not told how to solve problems, but rather given the chance to explore and discover applicable solutions, because at MPA, rigor equates to participation and involvement. It means that students are not sitting in the back, bored, disengaged and distracted, but instead are challenged, attentive, actively participating, and eager to be diving deep into complex concepts. As a result, students graduate prepared life. Read More