Meet Makerspace Coordinator Keith Braafladt

Keith Braafladt What memories do you have of your first days at MPA?
At the time, I was asked to take on the Makerspace as an interim coordinator and teach Middle School seminar with Michael Moran (fantastic co-teacher!) and my Upper School classes. My biggest and best memories are of all the support I received from my colleagues as I stepped into formal PreK-12 education from an informal education at a museum. The faculty and staff were just amazing at creating a super welcoming and positive environment during the end of virtual education back to in-person school.

What’s the best thing about being a teacher at MPA?
Believe it or not, I spent over 30 years at the Science Museum. The only way you could do that is if you love your work and the people you work with. The MPA community is pretty wonderful–adults who care about children and create a positive learning environment–and do the same with each other as peers.

Describe your typical day. 
Hmm. A typical day might be a bit difficult–I try to put up a schedule of what I am up to, and who and what I am working with, on the whiteboard every day, and it seems to change every single day. It’s a beautiful thing, but the continuity is that I get to propose and support students coming in to explore and realize their ideas with a wide range of materials and tools. Here’s a snapshot: as I write this, there are students who are working on designing T-shirts and printing them for a school team. A little bit ago, I had a number of students working on designing, painting, and constructing narrative settings for characters they had created a story about. Students come in to print in 3D, repair their backpacks by sewing them when they rip, and learn how to use a hot foam cutter or airbrush. So, a typical day is one where I work to support the creativity of the MPA community and respond quickly to the ideas of our faculty and students. Read More

Meet Lower School Art Teacher Ellen Scharfenberg

Ellen ScharfenbergHow long have you taught at MPA?
I came to MPA in the fall of 2021. I was looking to move back to the Twin Cities area after having taught elementary art in rural Wisconsin for four years to be close to my family.

What’s the best thing about being a teacher at MPA?
I think the best thing about being a teacher at MPA is the wonderful people that I get to work with. Not only are the faculty and staff at MPA truly amazing teachers and professionals, but some of my closest friends.

Describe your typical day. 
My typical day at MPA begins with prepping art materials for my classes that morning and probably talking to Ms. Mastel across the hallway. I usually teach three Lower School classes in the morning, followed by a great lunch by our Sage staff. I always try to take time to eat and connect with my colleagues. After lunch, I either help with Lower School lunch or recess and teach two more afternoon classes.

Do you have a favorite lesson to teach?
I think that one of my absolute favorite lessons to teach is the second grade fall cabin project. This lesson is a great way for second graders to practice using a one-point perspective and learn about the other elements of art such as space, overlapping, and making objects smaller as they get farther away. Read More

Meet International Student Mina Kim ’26

Mina KimMina Kim has been at MPA since eighth grade. She is from Seoul, South Korea, and is currently living with an MPA host family. Learn more about our international student program and becoming a host family here!

What do you love about MPA?
What I love the most about MPA are the opportunities given to me. MPA offered me a chance that I can study abroad, then a whole new journey in my life began. While I have continued my study in MPA, I, fortunately, was able to have enough opportunities which satisfied my academic desires. MPA provided me with a challenging and engaging social environment through well-driven people, multiple projects to express my creativity, and open chances for everyone. For instance, I am involved in band, debate, soccer, and student council. I take these as opportunities that allow me to build many good relationships with teachers and teammates and be passionate and responsible at my tasks. I deeply appreciate these great opportunities that I enjoy in MPA.

How is your experience at MPA different than your former school?
I spent most of my youth in South Korea. I am grateful that I was under an excellent education system with rigorous and challenging academics throughout my former school years in South Korea. It helped me develop my own study habits and have confidence, which led me to MPA to discover new academic challenges. Besides the academic aspect, I really liked that respecting and cooperating with others was always strongly emphasized in Korean schools in a social manner. Now, as a proud member of MPA, I recognize that the MPA community is more liberal and diverse. Chances that are given to me of choosing electives and clubs helped me out with enhancing my own abilities and how to efficiently use them. I learn and adapt a lot from interchanging ideas with people from different backgrounds and histories. Further, a deep encouraging sense of community and easy interaction with teachers has become a solid ground for me to navigate academic paths. Read More

Meet Georgia Magers ’23

Georgia Magers '23What do you love about MPA?
I love how MPA provides the space for kids of all backgrounds to communicate and learn together. We all have an equal chance to speak our minds while diversifying our own knowledge and perception of the world.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I am encouraged to dream big and do right through the supportive resources MPA has to offer. From an emphasis on mental health, to being greeted at the door each morning by staff, or being encouraged to ask questions in class each day.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to find a fulfilling life path that challenges me every day.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I believe my teachers teach the way they do to prepare me for life outside of MPA and help me find my passions inside and outside of school.

In what ways has MPA prepared you for life beyond school?
MPA has exposed me to more ideas, concepts, and people than I could have ever reached on my own. Read More

Meet The McBroom Family

The McBroom FamilyThe McBroom Family from Oakdale has been at MPA for three years. They have a fourth grader and a sixth grader.

What do you love about MPA?
We love the connectedness, the openness of the community, and the personal attention for our children. It seems the school really knows them as individuals.

What initially attracted you to MPA? 
We were looking for a closer connection to the school, rather than our children being another number. We want to give them the best experience we can.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
They are known as individuals with different characteristics, interests, and abilities.

What would you tell another family considering MPA?
It may be the best choice we’ve made for our children.

In what ways has MPA prepared your child for life in the 21st century? What are the key attributes, skills, and content that you find most valuable?
The world does not run on math and science alone. Understanding world issues, and how to connect to others with empathy and understanding will hopefully lead to a more fulfilling life.

Meet Nicholas Larson ’23

Nicholas LarsonWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the close-knit community at MPA! I truly feel like I’m able to connect with my teachers and peers at a personal level and form lasting relationships that will continue well after I graduate.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
At MPA, each student has the opportunity to be a part of so many different activities. The school culture is to take advantage of all the opportunities students are given and to be a part of as many of those classes and clubs as possible. With so many different clubs, class offerings, and extracurriculars, whether it be a sport or an academic competition after school, almost all students become heavily involved in something they are interested in.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I think the teachers at MPA run their classes with an emphasis on real-world applications and individual thinking. Most teachers will ask us, students, questions about the reading we’ve done or assignments we’ve completed for class instead of lecturing about them. They want students to learn how to think instead of what to think. With smaller class sizes, teachers get to know their students and are able to push their intellectual curiosity. Many classes I’ve taken focus on complex problem-solving skills. While there is a certain amount of content that is needed to learn in certain subjects, students don’t just learn facts, they learn how to apply their knowledge. Read More

Meet Rooco R. ’29

Rocco in classWhat do you love about MPA?
At MPA, I love that everybody is so caring, kind, and respectful. The teachers spend so much time with you and that’s really nice. I like that nobody interrupts classes. It’s really great.

What would you tell another student considering MPA?
You should. Coming to MPA is definitely the right choice. I’ve gone to two other schools and this is definitely the best school for me. If you love having fun while still learning, then definitely come here.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I get encouraged to dream big and do right when I think about things I like. When I read
I always dream that I’m one of the characters in the story. I dream that I’m there. When I do right, I stand up for my friends, I help other people, and I think it’s better to be in a group than alone when we do right.

Meet Annika Binstadt ’25

Annika and her sister KensiWhat do you love about MPA?
It sounds cliché, but MPA is my home away from home. I know that I can come to school each day and I will have teachers, friends, coaches, and administrators all ready to welcome me. Whenever I speak with students who don’t go to MPA and they tell me how much they dread going to school or that they don’t feel comfortable being themselves at school, I realize that I have never had that experience at MPA. Not only is the Mounds Park campus where I spend most of my time, but it is where I have made many of my fondest memories and closest friends. It is the place that has raised and nurtured me, and it is a huge part of what has shaped my personality, interests, and character.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
Teachers at MPA genuinely care for their students, and it shows in the way they teach. At this school, I have never felt like just a grade or another essay. The joy teachers have for their students and for teaching shows in everything they do, inside and outside of the classroom. The teachers are truly the heart of what makes MPA great.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
At MPA, no dream is too big. If you see a solution, you pursue it. My dreams have been supported, even when they were far-fetched and arguably impossible. There is a strong culture of justice, dedication, and collaboration among the students. Read More

Host Family Needed For Semester Two

Dear MPA Community,

Do you have a desire to expand your family’s perspective of the world? A room to spare? Space in your heart for another family member? MPA is seeking a host family for a new Upper School international students for the second half of the 2022-23 school year and beyond.

As you and your family consider hosting, please review the MPA Host Family Recruitment Flyer and Host Family Application.


  • A monthly stipend will be directly deposited in installments of $900/month on the first of each month for the previous month, January through June. January and June will be prorated.


  • Host families are responsible for providing transportation to and from school and school-related activities.
  • Host families will work with their student in scheduling rides for social events.


  • All international students will receive the MPA school lunch. Host families and students do not need to pack lunches.
  • Host families are responsible for providing two meals on all weekdays and three meals on all weekend days.

We hope you’ll consider opening your hearts and homes to one of our international students! Give it some thought, and if interested, please reach out to me for additional information and/or to begin the process of becoming a host family. I would love to have a conversation with you!

Thank you so much for considering,

Cory Becker-Kim
International Student Program Coordinator
Advanced Language and Culture Teacher

Meet William Kim ’20

William Kim '20What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?
I am a student at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University in London, Ontario, Canada (also where I currently live), studying Percussion Performance and entering my third year.

How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?
I was able to get to where I am today because of the numerous opportunities MPA and the Twin Cities provided for me. While in the Twin Cities, I got to play in the Symphony Orchestra of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies organization. I got to perform in venues such as Orchestra Hall and Ted Mann Concert Hall, mentor younger musicians in other orchestras, and tour internationally in Eastern Europe (2018). This past June, I was invited by GTCYS as an alum to come back to Minnesota to perform and tour internationally with them in Southern Italy–it was wonderful to come back and visit all my old friends and relive fond memories at MPA!

It all started for me with MPA’s ensembles, who inspired and shaped the musician I am today. While at MPA, I participated in Concert Band, Varsity and Concert Choir, and Percussion Ensemble. In addition to developing my musical abilities, each ensemble helped to develop my confidence and teamwork skills, very important skills to have when majoring in music and in life.

While in Minnesota, I also took private lessons at the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Dr. Adam Rappel. His patience, dedication, and guidance helped to get me to where I am today, and I don’t know where I would be today without him and my MPA teachers Ms. Wantock and Mr. Habermann.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA inspire you to dream big and do right?
MPA’s faculty inspired me to dream big and do right by serving as excellent role models, and leading by example. Every faculty member I interacted with impacted me through their respect, responsibility, leadership, and methods of keeping us engaged and fostering learning through multiple flexible approaches that included Socratic seminars and frequent in-class discussions, a learning environment very few schools have. Given the nature of my current major (Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance), which involves a lot of performing in large ensembles and working in “teams,” MPA has given me the lifelong skills necessary to lead and collaborate with my colleagues effectively.

What’s next? Do you have any aspirations, personal or professional, that you’d like to share?
To keep learning and performing!