Meet Hana Miller ’21!

hana miller '21What do you love about MPA?
At MPA you are not taught what to think, you are taught how to. The teachers at MPA recognize the importance of creating people who can think for themselves, not just repeat a string of facts about the Civil War. You are encouraged to ask questions, to challenge ideas, and to think differently. At MPA you are not only accepted for who you are, but you are supported and encouraged to be an individual, not just a grade.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA inspires students to not only fight for what they believe in, but to actively work to better it. Just this morning, the Kindergarten class came up to the high school to ask us to protest with them because they had learned about how pollution was affecting marine life. Read More


Meet Joan and Kevin Frankel!

the frankel familyWhat do you love about MPA?
We love the small class sizes and the individual attention our children get from their teachers. Because of the small class sizes, the teachers really get to know our kids’ strengths and weaknesses and focus on improvement. We also love the fact that our kids are encouraged to participate in arts and athletics and not solely focus on academics. We believe this is important for a well rounded education.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
At MPA, our children have been encouraged to try new activities they might not have tried if they were at a bigger school. The block schedule in Upper School has also allowed our daughter to take many more electives. This diversity in activities and classes allows them to realize the joy of learning something they may have never thought they could do. Read More


Meet Tiffany Scott Knox & Clarence Knox!

Alex Knox and his sisterWhat do you love about MPA?
We underestimated the value of being in a PreK-12 learning environment, especially all on one campus. It has been beneficial for our kids who admire so many of the Upper School students. In addition, our kids have met other kids who are extremely gracious and kind.

Another reason we love MPA is the class size. As we were searching for a school, we wanted a learning environment that encompassed more opportunity for one-on-one interactions. At MPA, teachers have the capacity to tailor their instruction and ability for our kids to build community with classmates. Rigor was also a must as we wanted a learning environment that cultivates and pushes our kids’ intellect and abilities.

Lastly, we love how there are many opportunities to get involved and participate in various after-school activities. My son earned his yellow belt in karate, came in second place in chess, participated in a summer school theatre production, and most recently sung the national anthem with his classmates at a Saint Paul Saints game.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Over the course of our son’s four years at MPA, he learned that continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. In addition, he’s learned how to be inclusive and that you can learn and have fun at the same time. Last, he’s learned, “Don’t let anyone stop you from your dreams,” and “You can do anything you set your mind to,” hence our oldest wants to be a professional athlete and in the off-season explore a career in chemical science. Read More


Meet MPA Parent Dr. Emily Binstadt ’91!

the Binstadt familyWhat do you love about MPA?
Almost everything! MPA has an emphasis on inclusion and kindness which defines the community overall. Within that circle, there is a freedom for individuals to explore what drives and inspires them and to develop their own identities and passions. Kids are free to try to do it “all” with a broad sampling of high-quality experiences in arts, academics, and athletics, and/or to delve deeply into a particular interest. I’m amazed by my children’s aspirations and achievements to date at MPA. I’m even more impressed by the confidence they have gained from engaging deeply with material in their academic courses at MPA, and in the organizational, public speaking, empathy, leadership, and teamwork skills they are honing. I am certain they will make a meaningful contribution in whatever area they choose to direct their energy.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
When weighing the financial and personal commitment to enrolling at an independent school like MPA, we worried about our girls being insulated in a school with less socioeconomic diversity than other educational options. And although we continue to be attentive to the impact this reality might have on our girls’ development, we have been astounded by the spontaneous commitment to altruism and advocacy our kids have made at MPA. They are more excited to talk about what’s new in the student-run Social Change Club than in almost any other activity they participate in. We couldn’t have asked for a bigger “win” in this area, which is even more wonderful because this was something we worried about before our kids started at MPA. Read More


Meet Brenna Bray ’02!

brenna bray '02Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Brenna Bray ’02!

Brenna was an MPA student from grades 5-12, graduating in 2002 to attend St. Olaf for undergrad. Around 2011, Brenna lived back home in Minnesota after attending the Publishing Institute at Denver University, and was presented the opportunity to coach the MPA cross country running and ski teams. After an amazing coaching experience at MPA for two years, she went on to pursue her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and Neuroscience at the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine. However, she stays in touch with many of the Panthers she coached and cheers them on from near and far. 

Now once again back in Minnesota, Brenna is looking forward to reconnecting with the MPA community, and wanted to further rekindle that connection. “The Alumni Association Board provided a very fun way for me to do that,” she said.

Brenna also adds that her role on the MPA Alumni Board has provided her with many opportunities to support MPA and get involved with the school and community she loves. As part of the Board, she hopes to continue supporting, fostering, and sharing the MPA community and spirit.  Read More


Meet Brendan Boyle ’14!

Brendan Boyle '14Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Brendan Boyle ’14!

Brendan attended MPA from kindergarten through 12th grade. After his lifer journey at MPA, he attended and graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and was deeply involved with several award-winning startups. Though he initially planned to attend medical school, he was offered a unique opportunity to work at Epic Games during the explosive growth of Fortnite. There, he currently works as an information security engineer and is the lead developer for account security tools. And now, as an Alumni Board member, Brendan’s goal is to re-engage alumni who have not previously worked with MPA post-graduation. Read More


Meet Kathryn Andersen ’09!

Kathryn Andersen '09 of the alumni boardMeet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Kathryn Andersen ’09!

Following graduation from MPA, Kathryn attended the University of Notre Dame, majoring in History and Pre-Med. She has also earned her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since college, she has worked in higher education, helping students through the admissions process at the University of Notre Dame and now in the MBA Admissions department for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Kathryn credits MPA with instilling a love of learning, inquisitive thinking, and soft skills that have helped her throughout her education and career.

“I loved my time at MPA and am passionate about supporting the school. Especially working in education, I’ve realized all the ways in which MPA was so ahead of its time and so unique in its mission and community,” she said. Read More


Meet Michael Velin ’06!

Michael Velin '06Meet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Michael Velin ’06!

Michael attended MPA ninth through 12th grade. He is currently a financial consultant for families and works with them to transition not only their wealth and businesses to the next generation, but also their missions and values. He and his wife Ashley Cooper, Middle and Upper School counselor at MPA, live in St. Paul and are expecting their first child this month!

Ever since graduating from MPA in 2006, Michael says he has gained a deep connection and sense of gratitude for a community that has driven his desire to constantly learn and explore new adventures.

“MPA has always been a second home for me and to some degree I didn’t want to lose touch of that feeling,” he said.

He is inspired to continue the spirit of giving back and helping the community. He wants to continue to be active in the broader Twin Cities community with activism and philanthropy.

Stay tuned for more extended profiles of your 2019-20 Mounds Park Academy Alumni Association Board!


Meet MPA Parents Leah And Karl Anderson

Anderson FamilyWhat do you love about MPA?
We love the whole child approach MPA takes to learning and development … pushing each child to pursue the best version of themselves that they can be, but in a manner uniquely designed for who that child is. This is the case not just academically, but also socially, artistically, athletically, and musically. And, MPA wraps a supportive, welcoming, positive community around all of it to make asking big questions and sharing ideas safe and possible. It’s a killer mash-up that means we have a kid who jumps out of bed in the morning excited to go to school and nearly always enthusiastically answers “GREAT!” when asked “how was your day?” Really, what more could parents ask for?

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA’s “there’s more than one way to solve the problem” approach is a game changer. For example, our daughter shared a story just this week about a lesson she working on in math. She said she was struggling to understand it as presented in class but thought she had found a different way to solve for the answer that she told her teacher about. In some schools, the teacher might have said “no, that’s not how you do it.” At MPA, her teacher said, “Great idea! Why don’t you try your approach with some of the problems tomorrow and see if it works.”

That is the essence of MPA—challenging our kids to excel and learn and grow in an open-ended way that spawns innovation and creative thinking. Dreaming big about possibilities, being willing to test ideas, understanding that “failing” is okay and part of progress, driving resiliency, and starting all over again is the MPA way.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
Our daughter attended a different school for PreK. She dreaded going in the morning, wasn’t challenged academically, and in general just wasn’t energized by the community around her. It was fine, but it was FLAT. At MPA—it’s the polar opposite: ALIVE, ENGAGING, CHALLENGING, ENERGIZING, you name it. It is just night and day. We have never regretted our decision to send our daughter to MPA and plan to do so until the day she graduates. Read More


Meet Mr. Thomsen

Biology teacher with two studentsUpper School science teacher, parent of an alumna

What do you love about MPA?
I love that it offers a liberal arts, whole child experience. Students spend each day doing a variety of things as they learn about themselves and the world.

How many years have you been at MPA?
I’ve been here for 27 years—since 1991!

How does MPA nurture students who forever dream big and do right?
MPA takes the time to nurture students’ interests and gives them a multitude of experiences to help them see the wide range of things those interests relate to.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
The small size makes it easier to communicate with colleagues and to help ensure that no student gets “lost in the shuffle.” I like that I am in charge of my budget and the chance to obtain materials, in the right amounts, to maximize the learning from each lab.

What would you tell a parent considering MPA?
Consider how MPA offers a wide range of offerings, the small class sizes, teachers who are interested in and get to know all of their students. Teachers and administrators are accessible to their students. Each student can be in a multitude of extra curricular activities without a lot of prior experience.

Read More