Plan To Join Declan Dahlberg ‘18 At The Spring Auction Next Year!

Alumni NewsOnce every year my brother, Kethan ’14, sends a message to the family group chat asking who can make the MPA Spring Auction. Our family, spread all across the country these days, takes this as an opportunity to not only be together, but celebrate a school that we have been a part of for over 20 years.

To me, the Spring Auction serves as a bridge between past, present, and future generations of the MPA community. I see my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Stacy, and I get to share what my life looks like 10-plus years later. I sit with parents whose students I coach on the cross-country or track teams and talk about how far they have come as students and athletes. I chat with new parents I’ve never met and see the same impact MPA had on my life materializing for their children.

These connections between teachers, parents, students, and alumni are what separate MPA from other communities and our family is proud to support that through events such as the Spring Auction. Please join me and many alumni at next year’s Spring Auction on April 4, 2025.

See you then,

Declan Dahlberg ‘18

To learn more about the auction, The Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning, or to make a gift, please contact Ashley Goetzke, director of development and community engagement, at

Alumni Parents Visit Their Kindergarten Kiddos

Kindergarten teachers, Ms. Kristine Petersen (Ms. P) and Ms. Katie Roche welcome parents into classrooms for community share moments each year. This year was extra special as we had eight students in the Kindergarten class that were children of MPA alumni.

We asked the teachers – How do you feel about having alumni parents in your classroom?
It is always a highlight when MPA parents volunteer to join us in the classroom. Children get so excited to share part of their day with their parent. As I reflect on the question above, I become a bit overwhelmed. I’m hit with the realization that these adults have chosen to come home to a place where they grew and learned as a child. This is a powerful moment and one that epitomizes our school community. We make deep connections with each other at MPA. I have watched some of these parents grow into the human beings they are today. It was an incredible honor to be a part of their story as they traveled on their life journey. Then to think I now have their sweet children in my class. Well, my eyes are overflowing with tears.

These eight alumni parents will lead our kindergarteners into their graduation ceremony on June 4. Each former MPA student will don an MPA alumni sash and find their place standing behind their child, and the entire kindergarten class. This will be a breathtaking sight. It will inspire new beginnings and possibilities for more children to return home. A place where they will always belong and be loved for who they are each and every day.
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Meet International Student Alum Wei Zhan ’22

Wei Zhan '22What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally? What experiences or relationships have inspired you along the way?
I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and am now attending Santa Monica College. Engaging with a diverse and talented group of individuals fueled my passion along the way.

How was your experience at MPA different than other schools?
MPA has an inclusive and open atmosphere, embracing individuals from all backgrounds and creating a welcoming environment for everyone. Read More

Meet International Student Alum Peter Wu ’19

Peter Wu '19 What are you currently doing professionally and personally?
I am working as an art teacher at an elementary art institute. At the same time, I am a freelance animator, film director, and production designer.

Where did you attend college, and what experiences or relationships have inspired you along the way?
School of Visual Arts, New York City. Observations, stories, and people from different backgrounds have inspired me to create different film ideas to speak for minorities in society. My connections with famous artists and producers such as Bob Camp and Mario Menjivar have led me deeper into the filmmaking industry.

How was your experience at MPA different than other schools?
Since I transferred from another American high school to MPA, I have seen that MPA is more accepting of students with diverse backgrounds. Not only the education, but the faculty and students are more supportive. Read More

Please Welcome Annie Stewart!

Annie stewart '11What position will you be holding at MPA? 
Third-grade teacher

From what school/organization are you coming?
Edina Public Schools and Mounds Park Academy

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in theater in 2015. After working as a full-time stage manager in Minneapolis, I came back to MPA as a building substitute teacher and PreK teaching assistant. In 2019, I completed my Master’s Degree in elementary education from the University of St. Thomas and started working as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher in the Edina Public Schools.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
MPA teaches the whole child and truly helps each student grow and find their unique passions and interests.

What lasting impact do you plan to have on MPA? 
As an alumna, it is an incredible experience to be back working at the school that helped me flourish as a student. I hope that as a Lower School teacher I will be able to spark the same joy of learning in my future students.

What’s your big dream? 
My big dream is to one day be an elementary school principal.

What are you passionate about? 
I have many passions, but recently I have been spending a lot of time paddle boarding, camping at Minnesota State Parks, and checking off my summer reading list!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know? 
I love to run triathlons. This summer, I will be completing my fifth one!

Meet The Johnston Family

The Johnston FamilyKate Johnston is an MPA Class of 1998 alum. Now, her son Emmett is a ninth grader at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
MPA has a special energy that is warm and welcoming. It is an inclusive community that truly cultivates joy and a love of learning. I love that MPA prioritizes music and art. I also love that MPA encourages curiosity and creativity and is committed to teaching the whole child. I love the small class sizes and amazing teachers that make it a school where each child is truly seen, heard, and valued. MPA teachers and staff build strong relationships with students and encourage them to shine their unique light.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
I graduated from MPA and have always been grateful for the amazing education I received. When my husband and I were considering a school change for our oldest son, we decided to look at MPA. We wanted small class sizes and a school that was inclusive and committed to growth and progress. When we visited the school, I was happy to see that MPA continued to grow and change in many ways while staying committed to its mission and values. The energy was wonderful, and it felt like a place that could be an incredible partner for us as we raise our boys. Our son is in his second year at MPA, and we feel blessed to have him there. Read More

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!

Meet The Gruen Family

The Gruen FamilyThe Gruen Family lives in White Bear Lake, MN. Christine Gruen was an MPA student for four years, and is now an MPA parent to Max, Class of 2024. 

What do you love about MPA?
I love that the teachers take the time to get to know students and genuinely care about their success and well being. I love that my children feel comfortable approaching their teachers if they ever need help or guidance. I love that MPA is a small family-type community. I love that my children are experiencing amazing learning opportunities that can be used in everyday life. I love seeing my children happy!!

What initially attracted you to MPA?
We had recently relocated to MPA from California. I was attracted to the warm welcome we received by both faculty and students, and the sense of acceptance my children received as transfer students.

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
My children are inspired by their teachers to become the best versions of themselves, whatever that may be. They are always encouraged and challenged. Read More

Forbes 30 Under 30 Recognizes MPA Alumni

MPA acknowledges and celebrates our alumni for being featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list! Congratulations to Laurel Schwartz ’11 and Aaron Millberg ’10, we are so proud of our alums!

Laurel Schwartz ’11 was featured in the Marketing & Advertising category as the brand director of global non-profit organization: Crisis Text Line, which provides free, 24/7 mental health support by text message. In addition to this, Laurel is also a documentary filmmaker. Laurel shares that she is “so thankful for my MPA education that got me here!” Read more here.

Aaron Millberg ’10 was featured in the Hollywood & Entertainment section for his excellent work with United Talent Agency and for representing some very recognizable names such as DJ Khaled and Zachary Levi. Read more here.

Meet Alumni Board Member, Hena Vadher ’13

Introducing Hena Vadher ’13

For what grades did you attend MPA?
K-12 (“lifer!”)

Why did you choose to pursue a position on the Alumni Association Board?
To promote an equity/justice-based lens in a place that served a formative role in my growth

In what ways do you see yourself as a supporter of MPA and its mission?
A critical assessor of, and huge advocate for, the ways MPA supports all of its students to learn, grow, and succeed on their own terms.

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?
I am a reader, poor and injury-prone runner, and aspiring generalist. Outside of how I enjoy living, I was recently working in disaster relief program implementation for New York City over 8 million residents with the American Red Cross as a disaster Response Manager. I oversaw the program, which included cash and sheltering support, for clients displaced due to disaster.

How did you get to where you are in your career? Did you attend college and if so, where? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?
I studied International and Area Studies at Washington University in St. Louis interested in pursuing a humanitarian career, inspired by my time interning with UNHCR—the UN’s Refugee Agency—in Geneva, Switzerland. After graduating, I was lucky to learn and grow at Breakthrough Twin Cities in St. Paul before relocating to New York City and eventually beginning my role with the American Red Cross.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA help you dream big and do right?
MPA prepared me to ask questions, prioritizing critical reflection on what and how to ask. I don’t—and can’t—know everything. But, feeling comfortable asking questions and demonstrating vulnerability in that respect goes a long way in better understanding your context (both in personal and professional spheres) and discerning a path toward “doing right.”

What’s next? Any aspirations – personal or professional – that you’d like to share?
I’m currently thinking quite a bit about how I enjoy engaging with my career and am putting intention toward growing in analytic and written communication skills.

What do you to see happen during your time on the Alumni Association Board?
As always, I hope to continue to learn and grow–and support the same for a formative community in my life.

Please share your favorite MPA story.
Thirteen years is a long time for “favorites.” But, I’m so proud to tell stories about how my school encouraged political engagement and thought. I’ll never forget Ms. Conway cancelling our Constitutional Law class the day the Minnesota House voted on whether to legalize gay marriage, asking us all to be present for history at the Capital. That day, she prioritized that sometimes learning comes from living. After the House passed the measure she explained, “In five years, there will be teenagers who won’t remember a time when they couldn’t marry the person they love.” Unforgettable.