Meet Alex Appleton ’23

Alex works with LS studentHow many years have you been a student at MPA?
I came to MPA in the fall of 2019 as a ninth grader.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the diversity and the classes. The teachers are so kind and supportive and truly want you to grow toward your goals and will help guide you there. I love the community and that as a tenth grader, I have the chance to be with Lower School kids or work with Middle Schoolers as they make their way toward the Upper School.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
My math teachers encouraged me to pursue my goal of jumping ahead into accelerated math. And this past summer, I finally achieved that. What started as a big dream developed into a possible goal that is now a reality. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of the teachers at MPA who encouraged me to reach this goal. Not only do I now feel more confident to reach my own goals, but I am encouraged to do right by helping others reach their goals as well. Read More


Meet the Cowen Family

Cowen FamilyWhat did your journey look like from Chicago to MPA?
We moved to Minnesota from Chicago in 2019 for an exciting career opportunity and to explore a new state, having raised our family in the city for 12 years and then moving to the suburbs.

As a new family to the area, what made you choose MPA over the abundance of other educational options in the Twin Cities?
MPA spoke to us and to our children instantly. Having attended both private/independent and public schools previously; we appreciate the combination of academic rigor and whole child approach. Our children are well rounded with many interests and we wanted to continue to instill in them a joy of learning, an appreciation for the arts, and varied sports and recreational options while also challenging them academically. MPA was immediately our first choice (among many outstanding options) and we could not be more pleased with how much our children love it!

What would you tell another family relocating to the Twin Cities?
Do your homework, know what you want nearby and how you plan to live—and then call us! The Twin Cities are varied and there are many wonderful areas to live in. It took time and patience and we even had to commute for work for nearly a year, but in the end it worked out—especially finding MPA and seeing how much joy the school and community has brought to our family.
Read More


Meet MPA Parent Chrissy Snider

The Snider FamilyWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the encouragement to try new things, the support through hard times, and a community that truly cares for each other and the world.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
Our oldest son Henry was struggling and his old school had given up on him. He needed a fresh start, a small setting and a place that embraced the whole child. Our children are no longer struggling. After being at MPA, they are thriving, and that’s especially true for Henry, who graduated from MPA this past spring. He entered MPA with no confidence in himself academically, socially or athletically, and look at him now! A state champion, confidently heading to the college of his dreams with a close knit group of friends that support and cheer for each other.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
All four of my children who have attended MPA and very different with unique gifts. Each of them feel encouraged to be their own individual selves and celebrated for their talents. They are challenged at school, but because of MPA, they have the confidence to put in the effort to persevere through the challenging coursework and ask for help when it is needed. For example, Henry’s Track and Field coach Bev Docherty had a lot to do with his success. Henry had a hard time running the 400m and 800m. Read More


Meet Spanish Teacher Mariajose Johnson

Mareajose virtual learningHow many years have you been at MPA?
The 2020-2021 school year is my third year at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the environment of student focused, high energy teachers all over the building! I love the fact that have the opportunity to learn a second language starting in Kindergarten, as well as having physical education, arts, music, technology, library, drama and the Makerspace! I love being a teacher at MPA and bringing the love of teaching/love of students kind of energy every day. It is energizing and motivating!

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
I believe that MPA inspires students who dream big and do right by promoting flexibility and creativity in the curriculum, and really encouraging extracurricular activities with the no-cut policy. Read More


Meet Alumni Board Member Kethan Dahlberg ’14

Kethan Dahlberg '14During his time at MPA, Kethan Dahlberg found his home-away-from-home. From early morning jazz band rehearsals and Nordic ski practices to late night track meets and study sessions for group projects, MPA taught him the importance of teamwork, perseverance, grit, and, importantly, the value and benefit of being an active and engaged member of the community. “Now, reflecting as an alumnus, and especially given the past few months of lock-down orders and quarantines, I feel it’s important for me to become further involved with my fellow alumni and the school to make sure the same strong sense of family and opportunities that I had during my time on campus remain in place for current students,” he said.

After MPA, he attended Harvard and graduated in 2018 with a concentration in government, secondary in music and citation in Spanish. He also pursued a variety of internship opportunities in various levels and branches of government. While he ultimately hopes to end up back in public service someday, he applied for his job with a private law firm before law school to see the other side of the coin and gain some insight into how businesses operate from a legal perspective. Read More


Meet Alumni Board Member Amanda Magistad ’12

Amanda Magistad '12Class of 2012 alum and 13-Year Club member Amanda Magistad joins the Alumni Association Board this year to serve, participate in, and grow with the MPA Alumni community. “I can confidently say that I would not be where I am today without the education and support I received from MPA. The opportunity to be a member of this board, and to hopefully ensure positive experiences for current and future students is a privilege,” she said.

Amanda has continued to stay connected with MPA after graduating. Her sister currently attends MPA, and Amanda loves attending Homecoming and staying up to date with current events through email newsletters and social media. “I continue to support MPA’s mission in everyday life by, ‘Dreaming Big and Doing Right.’ In both my personal and professional life I stand up for what is right, what I believe in and treat everyone with kindness. I am innovative, I am not afraid to speak up and I push myself to thrive and improve every day.” Read More


Meet MPA Parent Laura Butler

Ella Jones graduating MPA Parent Laura Butler is mom to Upper School students Amelia and Callum, and new alum Ella ’20!

What do you love about MPA?
The community!!

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
They are allowed to be a part of their own, focused extracurriculars. And also they are very welcomed to any extracurricular or sport there is.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
They loved their international school and MPA made them feel at home and as welcomed.

What would you tell another family considering MPA?
It’s a very welcoming community and administration and teachers want nothing but the best for the students.

Mounds Park Academy, a PreK-12 private school in Saint Paul, is currently accepting inquiries for the 2020-21 school year. For more information about admission and to schedule your tour, visit moundsparkacademy.org/admission. We look forward to getting to know your family!


Meet Alumni Board Member Christopher Staral ’06

Chris '06Christopher Staral ’06 attended MPA for Middle and Upper school, and chose to serve on the Alumni Board to give back to the MPA community by offering mentorship in a career field that may be underrepresented and difficult to break into. He is currently the biotech Investment Analyst for Mangrove Partners and is responsible for making investment recommendations as they relate to the biotech sector.

He majored in chemistry and minored in biochemistry at Carleton College, and also performed medical research at the University of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart Institute during breaks. He then attended the University of Minnesota’s Medical School immediately following undergrad, where he met his now-fiancée, a Minnesota native and investment banker in healthcare. She introduced him to the concept of trying to predict developmental drug program success as a way to value biotech companies, which he began doing during his spare time while at med school. This lead him to New York and pursue a career full-time in finance, starting at Canaccord Genuity in biotech and pharma equity research, and shortly thereafter moving to Goldman Sachs in a similar capacity.

While there are a diverse set of skills that Chris says can lead to success as an investor, a few that he learned during his time at MPA stand out as crucial. “The ability to think for oneself and to be skeptical of arguments that are made on the basis of authority rather than merit; the ability to quickly break down an abstract thesis into digestible, constituent parts and identify the crucial one or two questions that need to be answered in order to evaluate whether the thesis is valid or not; to have the self-awareness to know when your own knowledge base is insufficient to answer a question and seek out the resources that are needed; to have the confidence to know when you are right in the face of challenges to your beliefs that are unsubstantiated, but also have the self-confidence to admit that you can be wrong when new information disproves your beliefs; have an understanding of risk management,” he lists. “MPA was particularly important in providing a sound foundation for all of these points by providing a challenging, intellectually stimulating yet safe environment that pushed students beyond what they viewed as their own limits. Teachers would encourage students not to hang onto beliefs simply because someone told them it was true, but rather understand the facts and reason out for themselves why they ultimately believed (or dis-believed) something. Lastly, MPA’s strong math (and particularly statistics) provided students with the tools needed to independently test and verify hypotheses themselves rather than rely on someone else to tell them what is and is not true. Furthermore, and even more importantly, it allowed students to separate fact from falsity which is a crucial skill becoming ever-more-important in an age where technology has dramatically amplified the ability for those with perverse political incentives to manipulate and obfuscate truth in favor of a story that supports their own self-serving needs.”

Chris’s favorite experience at MPA was when he worked with three other students to pass a law that mandated 30 minutes of organ donation education in driver’s ed classes throughout the state of Minnesota, which came as the extension of a project he worked on in Ms. Conway’s public policy class. The class served as a way to combine many of the skills we learned throughout high school to creatively solve a problem we identified ourselves and effectuate actual change that continues to positively impact the lives of Minnesotans today.


Meet Nicholas Dugas ’11

Nicholas Dugas '11Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Nicholas Dugas ’11!

Nicholas Dugas ’11 joined the MPA Alumni Association Board because of the role MPA had in his personal growth and development. “Many of my best traits and skills had their seeds planted while I was a student at MPA, and I look back upon my time there fondly. I joined the Board because I want to give back to a place that gave me a lot, and help guide the school in such a way that the experience I had continues to be available to others,” he said.

Nicholas joined the MPA community when he was in fourth grade. His favorite memories stem from being on the speech team–hanging out in Ms. Kunze’s room workshopping, rehearsing, and preparing pieces for Saturday tournaments. He notes that one of the highlights was winning State in his respective category one year. Read More


Meet Isaac Marshall ’11

Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Isaac Marshall ’11!

After MPA, Isaac attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he closely studied health care delivery systems. He discovered a passion and interest that were key in making his career decisions later on. “I am inspired by professionals who have found mentors to engage their passions and expand their impact,” he said.

Isaac chose to pursue a position on the Alumni Association Board because he wants to help shape the future of MPA. Since graduating from MPA, he’s experienced the impact that his MPA education has had on his life. “From the first day of college and being prepared to write lengthy papers, to having professional confidence in my strengths, I can trace back several important traits to MPA and the learning that I engaged with there,” Isaac said.

Isaac sees himself supporting MPA both financially and in his role on the board. The “theme” of his support is directly related to MPA’s mission. Issac deeply believes that education is fundamental to growth and life-long success and life-long learning, and that MPA teaches these life-long skills in a way that produces learned and passionate students as each graduate goes out into the world and forges his or her own path. “I want to return to that organization that has impacted my path.”