Meet Retired Faculty Member—Bev Docherty

BevBev Docherty

Position while at MPA
Physical Education/Health Teacher, Coach

How many years did you work at MPA?
34 years

What do you miss most about MPA?
I miss so much about MPA; the opportunity to work with such driven, focused students and student athletes, my dedicated, fun-loving Physical Education/Health and Athletics Departments and the entire, supportive Mounds Park Academy community.

What have you been up to since leaving MPA?
I’ve been running, biking and exploring areas of Florida with my recently retired husband, Jim. We returned to St. Paul this summer to enjoy the Minnesota summer, to continue work on our “fixer-upper” home–on our 26th year of updates:), and catch up with our dearly missed family and friends. Cheering on MPA alumni Mason Ferlic this past year throughout his journey to the Olympics has been a wonderful treat! Perhaps it aided in my decision to return to co-coach the MPA Cross Country Team this fall after many, many years, which is bringing me such joy already!

Meet Elissa Frankel ’22

Elissa FrankelWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the learning environment that the teachers and students create together! Everyone is encouraged to follow their curiosity and given the support to learn about things they’re interested in. The student body is really involved in clubs and extracurriculars (especially for such a small school), and trying new things is encouraged.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
The teachers at MPA always supported me in my goals and dreams and given me the resources to help me follow the right path to achieve them. MPA is a place where dreaming big and doing right are valued and encouraged by the whole community. Having a community that truly believes in you and your future has encouraged me to dream big and do right.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
The teachers at MPA truly care about their students and the subject matter they are teaching. They want their students to find fascination in learning and discover their passions. MPA teachers want to see their students make an impact in the world and achieve their goals and they equip us with the tools to do so. Read More

Meet The Soto Álvarez Family

Soto Alvarez FamilyMeet the Soto Álvarez family! Current parents Diana and Michael are joined by their MPA kindergartener, Lucas, to share their MPA story.

What do you love about MPA?
Lucas: I have a lot of friends. And on the school’s birthday, we got cupcakes! I like my French class. I also like my classroom because that’s where my friends are.

Diana & Michael: Everyone is so welcoming. And it is clear that the programs and offerings are incredibly well thought out.

What initially attracted you to MPA? Do your same needs/desires hold true today?
Lucas: My mommy and daddy picked it, but it was a good decision.

Diana & Michael: We wanted a school that was excellent academically, but that also took a holistic approach to the student. We value that MPA cultivates active community members and social change agents. We like how design thinking has been interwoven throughout the school. And we were blown away by the quality of the ceramics projects on display! Over the past several months we have seen Lucas growing and learning in a range of ways, including how to use his “emotional toolbox” to handle difficult situations. Read More

Meet Meiran Carlson ’24

Meiran Carlson How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
By receiving an immense amount of support from the people around me. Whether it’s teachers, staff, coaches, or friends, I’ve just felt a lot of structure since coming to MPA, and that has allowed me to do better socially and academically.

What do you love about MPA?
I love that even though I’ve only spent a short amount of time at MPA so far, I’m able to express myself so openly and freely. The community here is so welcoming and everyone wants to hear what everyone else has to contribute, which is such a nice thing to be able to say. Everyone’s thoughts matter and it’s really hard to feel left behind at a school like MPA.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I think the teachers here teach the way they do because they genuinely enjoy finding new ways to get their students to think critically about issues in and outside of the classroom– it’s not a chore for them. It’s a breath of fresh air to have teachers who feel it’s important for their students to succeed in their classrooms, but also in everyday life, and who want to help in that effort.

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
I have felt much more supported and welcomed at MPA than I did at my previous school. From all the interviews I had during the admissions process to adjusting to the environment here, there was always someone there to check in with me at every step. I can tell that my presence here is valued as an individual and as someone who is now a part of the MPA community. Read More

A Peek Into The MPA Robotics World

from Marc Shapiro, Upper School science teacher and robotics coach

If you’ve been in the Lansing Sports Center recently, you’ve surely seen the large wooden structure on Court 4. Maybe you even saw Michael Wilke ’16 working on it. The curiosity some people had about the structure made me overcome my reluctance at sending all employee emails, in order to compose this description of what the MPA Robotics team is about.

FIRST Robotics is an international organization headquartered in New Hampshire. It has four levels, starting with FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for elementary schoolers, all the way up to FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for high schoolers. At MPA we have only an FRC team. Per capita, Minnesota has one of the highest participation rates in the U.S. There are more FRC teams in Minnesota than varsity hockey teams!

Each year, we are given a new “game” and a limited amount of time to create a robot to play the game. The robot must be designed, built, programmed, wired, and tested under strict constraints. A new robot is built every year; the game changes so much that there’s nothing from the previous year that is useful, other than possibly a drive chassis. With their batteries and bumpers, robots can weight up to 150 pounds. Teams are aided by adult mentors who are volunteers from the community, but the students have ultimate responsibility for designing, building, and operating the robot. Students can go the technical route and learn about building, coding, electronics and controls, computer-aided design, or using a CNC router, or several of these. They can also choose the non-technical path and work on such things as fundraising, marketing, outreach, and social media. Our team has Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a still-under-renovation website. We are like a small business, and have to raise all our operating funds; our budget for this season is $24,000. Read More

Meet Alex Bixby ’25

Alex Bixby at sailing How many years have you been a student at MPA?
This is my third year.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the opportunities MPA gives me and the amazing community.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I’m encouraged everyday by being given opportunities to try new things, get out of my comfort zone, and even challenge myself. My teachers and peers have guided me into things I now love to do.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I believe in my teachers teaching the way they do because it works. I have found myself engaged in all my classes and learning quickly. Sometimes I have even gone to do more work on my own because of things they have taught that have interested me.

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
My experience at MPA has been the best thing for me. It has given me a community where I can feel safe and be myself. At my old school, teachers would just teach and go through lessons. At MPA, I have been able to connect with everyone and try new things. I’m able to reach out at any time and ask a question or share something and feel heard. Having small classes is nice because everyone can be a part of the class instead of sitting in a room of 30+ people and being overlooked. Read More

Meet Director of Guidance Randy Comfort

Randy ComfortHow many years have you been at MPA?
I am in year 19 at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
The thing that I love most about MPA is that it is first and foremost a community of engaged and caring people. Families, students, and staff are all part of the fabric that makes this place special and I believe that people feel valued for being themselves.

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
As the person that builds the master schedule for the Upper School, I feel like the intentionality of choices is an integral part of the MPA system. Students can take a lot of different things in their career and the experiences that they have are part of what makes them who they are. I see opportunities to get involved way beyond the classroom by participating in athletics, productions, clubs, or service. When students can engage, then those choices inform the development of the whole person and not just focus on some specialization in one area to the detriment of other interests. Read More

Meet Fawzan Aslam ’24

Fawzan AslamHow many years have you been a student at MPA?
This is my second year here at MPA!

What do you love about MPA?
I appreciate the aspect of community at MPA. In school, you’ll find a diversity of people that share common interests and ideas, while also standing for their own beliefs. This community is supportive and bolstering for a student’s success and overall experience, because of the apparent cohesiveness of a well-educated and friendly student body.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA encourages me to ‘dream big and do right’ with opportunities and the ability to bring about change. At MPA, I am able to pursue new opportunities and challenges apart from the regular school curriculum. Either this being leading Social Consciousness Club presentations or engaging in helpful Speech and Debate practices, there will always be opportunities for students. Moreover, students who create and engage in these clubs and groups are able to create change not only within the MPA community, but outside as well. By ‘dreaming big and doing right’, the actions of MPA students have a big and long-lasting impact. Read More

Welcome To MPA, Steph Bloxham!

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Accounts Payable/Student Tuition Coordinator

From what school/organization are you coming?
White Bear Lake Area Schools

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I have a Bachelors degree from Winona State in Recreation and Tourism. I have worked in a school setting for 14 years, first starting as a paraprofessional at Fridley Middle School, then became the Billing Clerk for Extended Day Childcare Programming and Department Admin for Community Education at White Bear Lake Area Schools.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
Everyone was so welcoming in the interview process, after learning more about MPA and its dreamer and doer philosophy I just knew I had to be part of the community.

What’s your big dream?
This is a tough question… my biggest dream would be for people to get along and accept each others differences.

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
We are very passionate about traveling and just experiencing new things in general, we love adventures.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
Fun Fact… I love HIGH 5’s and play competitive softball!

Meet Elise DeBruzzi ’24

Elise DeBruzziWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the environment and the people, staff and students both. When you walk into MPA, especially the classrooms, it feels so warm and inviting all the time! I tend to stay after school frequently and I’m constantly surprised how everywhere I go has a safe feeling to it.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
For me, the encouragement comes from all of the opputunities. Part of what I love and appreciate so much about MPA is that they help you find opportunities to expand knowledge and/or experiences in certain fields. (college counseling, history day, writing competitions, math competitions, etc.) So the encouragement comes from all of the opportunities that are presented to me and knowing that there are teachers and other adults that want to help me succeed.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really thought about this! All of the teachers I’ve had (and have) are very thoughtful and understanding, and not to mention, they are all extremely good at what they do. Maybe they are like that because they’re trying to create and maintain a good teacher-student relationship. It’s very easy for students to take teachers for granted, but I also feel the same is true about teachers to students. It takes more effort to create a lasting friendship with a teacher, but I think that is why the MPA teachers teach the way they do–because they care and want to be a part of the students’ lives. Read More