The Journey To Where I Need To Be

Sehar Mapara '20The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Sehar Mapara’s Senior Speech.

Who I am today is a result of my diverse background and my family. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan with a loving father, mother and brother. At just a month old, I was already cruising on a plane flying from country to country because of my dad’s job.  Leaving my loving grandparents, Nani and Papa, my cousins, my friends, and my home at such a young age seemed easy at the moment but the further I went from my roots, the more confused I became about my identity.

Time went on, and we moved to Saudi Arabia, then to Dubai. I was a nerdy-looking little girl with brown skin in a classroom filled with international kids. I made some white friends and thought of myself as a whole new person.  It amazes me how even in the third grade, I was so influenced by the concept of looking different. Regardless, I started to love Dubai, my home, my friends, and my school, but before I knew it, it was time to move. Read More

Meet Annie Stewart ’11

Annie stewart '11Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Annie Stewart ’11!

After attending MPA from grades 6-12, Annie Stewart ’11 went to St. Olaf College for four years and graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Theater. She worked at a number of theater companies in St. Paul and Minneapolis before finding her way back to MPA as a substitute teacher and PreK teaching assistant. She worked in MPA’s Lower School for a year before deciding to go back to school to pursue her K-6 teaching license and Masters in Elementary Education! Annie says that it was working at MPA that helped solidify her passion for teaching, and she is so thankful for all of the experiences that led her to where she is today.

“MPA was such an important place and community for many years of my academic career,” said Annie. “Now, as I am completing a license and Masters, I use the tools and skills I learned at MPA on a daily basis. Most importantly, I am excited to teach and that love of teaching comes from the teachers and community I had at MPA. I’m especially looking forward to teaching the next generation of students how to think, not just what to think.” Read More

Moving To Collaboration Over Competition

MPA senior Ella JonesThe following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Ella Jones’s Senior Speech.

As many of you know, I have only been a member of the MPA community since the beginning of eleventh grade. Before moving to Minnesota, I lived in China. Growing up in Beijing during the Chinese economic boom was a very unique and an eye-opening experience. I watched the entire city develop and grow in front of my eyes. I watched the roads outside my apartment shift overnight from dirt to asphalt, and the vehicles on them evolve from bikes to cars.

The city began to quickly fill with people from many provinces across China. Beijing became a domestic web of people from all corners of the country. Between 1990 and 2015, Beijing’s population doubled, reaching a staggering 20 million people in 2015. At my school in Beijing, there was no such thing as a student on financial aid or scholarship, and because of that, I was surrounded by people who were privileged and had opportunity. School became a competition of who had the nicest clothes or who went to the coolest places for vacation. I started to judge my self-worth on what I had compared to my peers, and not the amazing opportunities I was already provided with. School became a toxic environment where every aspect became a comparison. Read More

Meet The Dimopoulos Family

the Dimopoulos family What do you love about MPA?
The teachers and staff. Everyone has been warm and friendly since we arrived in 2018 and thanks to the small classroom sizes, our children receive the attention they need to learn in the best way suited for them.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Our children are pushed lovingly but firmly to bring their best to every class, whether it’s drama or algebra. This shows them they are capable of achieving more than they might have otherwise thought possible. The teachers set standards appropriate to each child and support each child to be their best self, academically, and emotionally. MPA also shows that school is more than just math, science, or reading; it helps each student build those soft skills, such as oral communication and presentation, that will ultimately serve our children very well in their future, even if they don’t necessarily always love being out of their comfort zone.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
Our children have attended to other schools—in France and the Pacific Northwest—and MPA offers much smaller class sizes, more caring and attentive teachers, and a student cohort that permits each child to be themselves. This permits our children to feel safe bringing to the MPA community the best of themselves knowing that they will be supported. Read More

Meet Cathryn Camacho ’04

Cathryn Camacho '04Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Cathryn Camacho ’04!

Following graduation from MPA, Cathryn moved to California to attend Pomona College. She graduated with a B.A. in Economics and worked as an analyst for a litigation consulting firm before switching gears and pursuing a Masters of Interior Architecture from UCLA/Cal Poly Pomona.

“Many of my friends and family joke that I am ‘serial student,’ as I currently pursue my second Masters in a part-time program,” she said. “The joy of learning has never faded. Throughout my collegiate and graduate studies, I sought institutions that mirror MPA’s dedication towards student development.”

In 2015, she returned home to Minnesota to run her family business and enroll in the Carlson School of Management for her Masters of Business Administration. Cathryn now serves as the President of Camacho Contractors and is involved with MPA in a variety of ways. After a tough four years juggling school and work, she is seeking balance, travel, and adventure, as well as growing her engagement with the MPA community and develop new relationships. Read More

Discovering Confidence On And Off The Court

Catherine Moore '20The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Catherine Moore’s Senior Speech.

I have been at MPA since kindergarten and during my time here, I have done and been many different things. In the early years, my aspirations ranged from being a veterinarian—a job that many regular people would think is a good life goal—to astronaut—again, a good job, though harder to get there, but still fairly normal … to finally … a mermaid. Clearly, my interests would wander, changing with whatever creative thought passed through my head. Luckily, MPA gave me a place to explore my less realistic, yet aspirational side. I don’t know about doing right, but I definitely dreamed big.

My afterschool interests varied, too. I tried soccer and swimming, joined basketball and played volleyball. I loved everything about sports … especially the competitiveness. I enjoyed being physical and loved my will to win. I engaged in as many sports as possible. Eventually, however, it was volleyball that caught my attention and gave me an anchor and a steady focus. In many ways, some of the most important lessons I have learned have come from being on a volleyball team, whether that was here at MPA or on a club team. Read More

Meet MPA Parent Michelle Mick

Michelle mick, mpa parentWhat do you love about MPA?
The community of wonderful people, the faculty, staff, parents, students–everyone has the common goal, to “Dream Big, Do Right.” This is breathed through the entire MPA experience, so much that when I pick Isaac up at the end of the day, he shares stories of all the wonderful experiences that have encouraged him to continue to dream big and do right. This school is the epitome of all we could but dream of– a wonderful, solid, first-class education, providing opportunities for the students to be recognized as individuals and also allowing them to learn how important each of their contributions are, building towards a higher purpose for which they have all been a part of.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
That the Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions are all on the same campus, that there is a synchronous connection between the divisions, and that there is respect by all who are part of the MPA community.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Every day, Isaac is encouraged to do the right thing, given the options of how best to handle situations, whether it is in the classroom, the corridor on the way to lunch, or out at recess. In the classroom, Isaac is asked to approach situations where he is given the confidence and self-belief that he can achieve it, encouraging him to dream big. Read More

Meet MPA Physical Education Teacher Rich Harris

rich Harris and mike scinto at the girls soccer game togetherHow many years have you been at MPA?
This is my first year.

What do you love about MPA?
The community, small classes, the work ethic of the students, and the lunch!

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
MPA consistently promotes this motto. It encourages its students to always look at the big picture and to always think their dream is achievable. MPA models doing the right thing and this rubs off on the students and community as a whole.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
These students genuinely care for and support one another.

What would you tell a parent considering MPA?
That if you want your child to be encouraged to try new things and always feel supported, then MPA is for them. If they want more individual attention from teachers, then MPA is for them. If they want the child to be in an environment that is kind and loving, then MPA is for them. MPA also has the technology and the classes to prepare their child for adulthood in today’s world. Read More

Finding A Home At MPA

Elli Carlson '20The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Elli Carlson’s Senior Speech. Elli joined MPA as a sophomore in August 2017.

I have been looking for “home” for as long as I can remember. Places I can be me, comfortably and unapologetically. Those places have changed as I have grown, and I’m sure my search will last my entire lifetime as I continue to evolve.

From a young age, I thought school would be my first home. I possessed an unrelenting love for learning, so I naturally imagined school as a haven for my curiosity. My mom frequently recounts the story of my first day of kindergarten, when I hopped off the school bus, ran up the driveway, and immediately asked her “When are we going to start the real learning? All we did was play!” Read More

Meet Lindsey Metcalf Kenyon ’08

Lindsey Metcalf Kenyon '08Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Lindsey Metcalf Kenyon ’08!

Lindsey is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. Once she found out that she could possibly go somewhere or discover something that no one else has before, she was set on being a geologist and scientist. She followed her “nerdy-ness” and love of the outdoors to Michigan Technological University. There, she was a part of cutting-edge funded undergraduate research projects and later went to the University of Alabama for her Masters, where she engaged in field work in Antarctica, going to those places she had previously dreamed of where no one had been before. While there, she kept in touch with Ms. Reardon-Offerman, who was her math teacher at MPA.

“She really made me realize how proud I should be of what I have already accomplished. Even now her encouragement makes me want to go farther and accomplish more as a woman in STEM,” Lindsey said. Read More