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

MPA Parents Association Events & Updates

Parents Connect

Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week
The school year is flying by and the second round of conferences is coming up for Lower School and Middle School. This coincides with the second Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week, January 31-February 4 for all of MPA. Please consider donating a beverage or snack. Teachers have reported increased thirst and cravings during conference week and we can help! Contact Tara Lafferty with questions, TMattRN@aol.com or 201-563-4622. Thank you from Tara, Shari and the Parents Association!

Donations can be dropped off at PA Carts located inside the Lower School, Middle School or Upper School Entrances. Please adhere to MPA Peanut/Tree Nut Awareness for Beverages and Snacks. No peanuts or tree nuts please. Refer to the MPA Food Allergy Guidelines for more information.

For snack ideas, please click here
To sign up, please click here

January Walks with Dogs
Due to doggie health—or lack thereof—we will be meeting in the Lower School parking lot at Michelle Mick’s black suburban. We’ll start right after drop off for a little brisk walk around the MPA grounds to get a little exercise, Friday, January 28 around 8 AM. We look forward to seeing everyone and trying to spot the sounds of spring, optimistic as that may be!

SnoDaze All-School Nature Walk, Dodge Nature Center, February 22, 3:45-5:45 PM,
Let’s kick off the week of SnoDaze, and celebrate the joy of winter in Minnesota! Bundle up the family and meet at Dodge Nature Center after school on February 22. Their naturalist will take MPA Families on a winter exploration of the grounds. We will end with some free time to gather around the bonfire to chat, as well as kick-sled across the frozen ponds. This is an all-school event, so if your students are busy with other activities, parents are welcome to come and enjoy winter’s splendor without kids in tow. RSVP to Staci Banks, sbhehe42@icloud.com.

Attention Middle School Panthers and Parents
The annual Middle School Café is going tubular this year! Stay tuned and get excited. While we can’t unveil all the details just yet (sorry!), we can say, SAVE THE DATE, Friday, February 25 from 2:30-5:30 PM.

Keep the Spring Break Vibes Alive, March 25th, 1:15-2:15 PM, Yogafresh
Save the date for some self-care and community connection! In March, Yogafresh, will offer a tailored class experience for MPA parents that weaves gentle movement, breathing and meditation into the practice with some additional tools and resources to tap into when things feel stressful at home (or work). There will be more details on this event as we get closer to March, as things are COVID-situation dependent.

Meet Retired Faculty Member Nansee Greeley

Position while at MPA
Math Teacher, asst. Middle school director, Lower School Director, Interim Head, Summer Program Director, Tennis Coach, Math Team Coach

How many years did you work at MPA?

What do you miss most about MPA?
The intellectual stimulation, the close friends I made over the years and of course the enthusiasm of the students.

What have you been up to since leaving MPA?
When I first left MPA I became the executive director for MAIS (Minnesota Association of Independent Schools.) I retired from that job 3 years ago. I now watch two of my grandchildren 2 days a week, play golf and pickleball and travel. We spend our winters in Palm Springs near our LA grandchildren.

Meet Cory Becker-Kim, International Student Program Coordinator

Cory working with an international student

Cory Becker-Kim is the International Student Program Coordinator and Advanced Language & Culture Teacher at MPA.

How many years have you been at MPA?
1 1/2

What do you love about MPA?
The genuine people and the MPA community wanting to teach, learn from and inspire students and people alike.

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
By teaching everyone the importance of listening, being respectful and contributing to the world as a global citizen.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
I would say the biggest difference here at MPA is the actual practice and actual living of school values. Read More

Building A Brighter Future

A huge congratulations to our eighth grade Future City participants! MPA, in its third year of participation, had our best showing yet!

This year’s competition entailed the same elements: a 1500-word essay in collaboration with their English class, a physical model of their city, and a presentation. However, the problem that students must solve changes every year. The challenge that students faced this year was to build a waste-free city. This theme was heavily inspired by nature and its circular processes, in which one organism’s waste is another organism’s food. The modern human world, however, operates in a linear fashion that follows a path of taking natural resources, creating products to use, then discarding them–from water bottles to clothing. While recycled materials are becoming more popular, today’s approach does not have a productive way to capture most of the limited resources and materials that our trash is composed of. This unfortunately causes pollution and many other issues for humans, the animal kingdom, and the world’s natural processes. This challenge serves to cultivate young minds to build a progressive, healthier world.

Below are summaries of this year’s awards:

Zenaida: This Future City won third place overall in the state of Minnesota, Best Infrastructure/Commercial Layout, and Best Age-Friendly City! The team was composed of MPA eighth graders Izzy V., Andrea P., Abby M., Teagan O., Ansel S., and Rosie B. During questioning, Izzy commented on how Andrea and Abby are new students to MPA this year and how the process of bringing them into the MPA community was special.

La Citta Del’Acqua: This Future City was made by Liam K., Truman W., Coba D., Boyd M., Matt T., Amelia V., and Roman S. This group won Best Essay in Minnesota and Most Innovative City Setting!

Greenwaters: This group was composed of Mina K., Zara G., Samantha G. , Amy X., Liam M., and Nellie L. Their ‘Greenwaters’ City won Outstanding Future City Project Plan!

A special shout out goes out to the MPA teachers, staff, and mentors who assisted students with writing their essays, providing information on sustainable food, ecosystems and waste-free programs, and model-building. Project-based learning takes immeasurable amounts of time, planning, commitment, and collaboration. The world is in good hands with these kids in the future!

We thank the following professionals for being mentors and judges,

Chris McLaughlin–Retired 3M Executive
Aimee Pearce–Medical Doctor
Olivia E. LeDee, Ph.D.–Acting Federal Director, U.S. Geological Survey, Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
Doug Galler–Architect
Mike Darrow–City Planner, Maplewood

Lisa Vale
Joseph Pugh
Kate Johnston
Paula Tuebo Munkelwitz
Carol Bagnoli
Raphael Coffey
Scott Burnett
Salley Doherty
Meghan Masters
Bridget Mayer
9th grade Future City veterans: Alex Milam, Liam O’Keeffe, Rowan Mulroney, Ali Zuhayb, Zainab Lodhi

Meet Fourth Grade Teacher DeeDee Stacy

DeeDee teaching in the MakerspaceHow many years have you been at MPA?
Since 1989 I think…

What do you love about MPA?
Loving MPA is an easy thing to do. The students and their families are all in–and the love of learning and excitement the students bring to the table each and every day makes each day a new adventure. My colleagues are amazing educators, and their passion and pursuit of best practices inspires me.

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
Young children naturally dream big, and want to do right. Inspiring them to do just that, then, is easy. Modeling intellectual curiosity, respect, and critical thinking allows our students to maintain the part of themselves that expects the best of others, and to seek paths that bend toward right.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
Two major differences between MPA and other schools I’ve worked in were evident by about my third week at MPA. One was that teachers truly partner with families in order to support students in academics, the arts, and personal growth. The other, of course, was the students. One lesson I introduced as a middle school English teacher required students to illustrate a piece of writing. In other schools, this requirement was met with groans, complaints, and poorly completed work. At MPA, when I introduced the project, hands shot up, as they had in other schools. I braced myself for the onslaught of questions and complaints. Instead, students asked what medium they could use. They wondered if pencil renderings would work, or if water color might be better. They discussed with me, and amongst themselves, how one might choose different ways to illustrate work depending on the content of the piece of writing. Magical moments like that are commonplace at MPA. Read More

MPA Connecting for Understanding: An Open Dialogue about Neurodiversity

The MPA Parents Association invites you to Connecting for Understanding: An Open Dialogue about Neurodiversity.

Do you think there is a “normal” brain? What does that mean? Or does having a “normal brain” simply mean having a brain that functions well within the given structures of our current systems? As parents, how do we talk with our students, when they, or their classmates, don’t have brains that fit within the parameters of “normal” learning or “normal” classroom behavior? What does it mean to be neurotypical vs. neurodiverse? How do we discuss these topics with accurate information and compassion to create understanding within our school community?

Please join us as we welcome Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Dr. Jonathan Miller, on January 27, 6:30-7:45 PM for an interactive dialogue about neurodiversity and the many ways in which our children learn. This event is for Lower, Middle, and Upper School parents.

This is the first in a series of community-building open dialogue events hosted in partnership between the Parents Association and MPA. Upcoming webinars will cover issues around race and LGBTQ+ topics. Please join in the conversations!

Meet Zainab Lodhi ’25

ZainabThis is Zainab’s second year at MPA. She joined in eighth grade and is currently in ninth grade.

What do you love about MPA?
What I love most about MPA is the community and environment. Not only does MPA provide students with a supportive community, but it also gives an environment that encourages curiosity, and it pushes its students towards improvement rather than pressuring students to constantly succeed. MPA makes me feel safe and respected, which I feel is vital in high school. I have never dreaded going to school at MPA. Everyday feels like a new and exciting experience. MPA truly is one of a kind––not only in its beliefs, but how it implements them to create an experience for each of its students.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA wholeheartedly encourages its students to institute change, gives students the support they need to pursue their passions, and teaches students that everyone can make change. We are not treated like we are ignorant of the “real world,” and instead, given room to grow as individuals. I have felt that this treatment encourages us be unafraid of uncertainty and pursue happiness. Read More

Welcome To MPA, Rachel Westmoreland

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Upper School and College Counseling Assistant

From what school/organization are you coming?
Academia Cesar Chavez

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I have worked in office administration in a variety of industries for 20 years. My education and background in health and wellness has allowed me to serve as a community resource in some form or another throughout my career, “it’s my calling”. My most enjoyable work experiences have always involved helping people and fostering meaningful relationships.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
I was drawn to the mission and sense of community at MPA. Everyone I spoke with had a positive attitude and strong motivation to create an extraordinary experience for the students.

What’s your big dream?
I would love to continue to learn Spanish and spend a summer traveling through Spain with my family.

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
We love being outdoors, staying active, and trying new activities together. Most recently paddle boarding has been our kick, next on the list is snowshoeing!

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
My family has a pet dragon named “Alfonso” (he has a beard).