Meet the Short Herring Family

Harper and Carter Short in the science roomDr. Courtney Herring, pediatrician and member of MPA’s COVID-19 Community Advisory Group, and her children, Carter (grade 6) and Harper (grade 5) share how their experience is going so far this fall at MPA.

How is MPA making sure you’re safe at school?

Harper: MPA has been and always will be my favorite school. They have spent a lot of time on making sure everyone is six feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands. MPA has kept me educated and safe.

How is MPA incorporating the important tasks of building community and maintaining joy while still ensuring the safety of all constituents?

Dr. Herring: The task of re-opening any school during a population health crisis is daunting. The administration and staff at MPA worked tirelessly to build-in safety provisions with logistical planning required to allow our children to return to the classroom. Whereas safety is first, social development and academic delivery should not be demoted to second-level importance. MPA understood these principles and picked up the gauntlet in a way that makes all of us should proud to be part of our “Dream Big. Do Right.” family. By not losing focus, our students have been re-engaged and families supported while relationships continue to be built through in-person and virtual platforms.

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Meet Alumni and Current Parents Victoria Simmonds ’01 and Sam Brown ’94! 

Alumna Victoria Simmonds with her 2 ChildrenOne of the greatest things about MPA approaching its 40th birthday is the number of alumni choosing MPA for their own children. Nate Bander ’09 spoke with two alums, who each brought their families to MPA in the fall of 2020, on why they chose to come home. Meet Victoria Simmonds ’01, and Sam Brown ’94!

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally and how did you get there? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

Victoria Simmonds ’01: I was immersed in the world of real estate as a child. My mother was a residential broker, and my father was a commercial developer. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a liberal arts degree, I knew pretty quickly that my future career would involve real estate in some form. Fast forward to now and I am an agent with Edina Realty. I am thankful, every day, to have found a career that I love, and I’m honored by each client who trusts me to help them navigate one of the most important transactions of their lives. The relationships that develop along the way are icing on the cake. Read More

Finding A Home: The Roseth Family’s Journey To MPA

Ava, Andrew, Ari, and Annika Roseth in front of the oceanHow did your family discover MPA? Maybe you saw a billboard or heard an ad on Minnesota Public Radio. Perhaps you read an article about an MPA athletic team, or searched on Google. But for almost 80% of families, finding MPA meant connecting with someone already within our community like a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or a family member.

For the Roseth family—parents Aaron and Anna, sixth grader Ari, fifth grader Andrew, and third grader Annika—who started in the fall of 2020, discovering MPA began with a bumper sticker on a teammate’s minivan at football practice. That teammate was Dylan Rengstorf, whose sister Emma, attended MPA. Ari and Dylan became fast friends and so did their families.

Shortly before meeting the Roseth family, Jason and Joana Rengstorf had chosen MPA after looking for a school where Emma could thrive in an inclusive place that provided a safe environment for her to excel as a student. When they found MPA, they knew it was the right fit. Read More

Meet the Cowen Family

Cowen FamilyWhat did your journey look like from Chicago to MPA?
We moved to Minnesota from Chicago in 2019 for an exciting career opportunity and to explore a new state, having raised our family in the city for 12 years and then moving to the suburbs.

As a new family to the area, what made you choose MPA over the abundance of other educational options in the Twin Cities?
MPA spoke to us and to our children instantly. Having attended both private/independent and public schools previously; we appreciate the combination of academic rigor and whole child approach. Our children are well rounded with many interests and we wanted to continue to instill in them a joy of learning, an appreciation for the arts, and varied sports and recreational options while also challenging them academically. MPA was immediately our first choice (among many outstanding options) and we could not be more pleased with how much our children love it!

What would you tell another family relocating to the Twin Cities?
Do your homework, know what you want nearby and how you plan to live—and then call us! The Twin Cities are varied and there are many wonderful areas to live in. It took time and patience and we even had to commute for work for nearly a year, but in the end it worked out—especially finding MPA and seeing how much joy the school and community has brought to our family.
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Meet MPA Parent Chrissy Snider

The Snider FamilyWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the encouragement to try new things, the support through hard times, and a community that truly cares for each other and the world.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
Our oldest son Henry was struggling and his old school had given up on him. He needed a fresh start, a small setting and a place that embraced the whole child. Our children are no longer struggling. After being at MPA, they are thriving, and that’s especially true for Henry, who graduated from MPA this past spring. He entered MPA with no confidence in himself academically, socially or athletically, and look at him now! A state champion, confidently heading to the college of his dreams with a close knit group of friends that support and cheer for each other.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
All four of my children who have attended MPA and very different with unique gifts. Each of them feel encouraged to be their own individual selves and celebrated for their talents. They are challenged at school, but because of MPA, they have the confidence to put in the effort to persevere through the challenging coursework and ask for help when it is needed. For example, Henry’s Track and Field coach Bev Docherty had a lot to do with his success. Henry had a hard time running the 400m and 800m. Read More

Meet MPA Parent Laura Butler

Ella Jones graduating MPA Parent Laura Butler is mom to Upper School students Amelia and Callum, and new alum Ella ’20!

What do you love about MPA?
The community!!

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
They are allowed to be a part of their own, focused extracurriculars. And also they are very welcomed to any extracurricular or sport there is.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
They loved their international school and MPA made them feel at home and as welcomed.

What would you tell another family considering MPA?
It’s a very welcoming community and administration and teachers want nothing but the best for the students.

Mounds Park Academy, a PreK-12 private school in Saint Paul, is currently accepting inquiries for the 2020-21 school year. For more information about admission and to schedule your tour, visit We look forward to getting to know your family!

Meet The Dimopoulos Family

the Dimopoulos family What do you love about MPA?
The teachers and staff. Everyone has been warm and friendly since we arrived in 2018 and thanks to the small classroom sizes, our children receive the attention they need to learn in the best way suited for them.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Our children are pushed lovingly but firmly to bring their best to every class, whether it’s drama or algebra. This shows them they are capable of achieving more than they might have otherwise thought possible. The teachers set standards appropriate to each child and support each child to be their best self, academically, and emotionally. MPA also shows that school is more than just math, science, or reading; it helps each student build those soft skills, such as oral communication and presentation, that will ultimately serve our children very well in their future, even if they don’t necessarily always love being out of their comfort zone.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
Our children have attended to other schools—in France and the Pacific Northwest—and MPA offers much smaller class sizes, more caring and attentive teachers, and a student cohort that permits each child to be themselves. This permits our children to feel safe bringing to the MPA community the best of themselves knowing that they will be supported. Read More

Meet MPA Parent Michelle Mick

Michelle mick, mpa parentWhat do you love about MPA?
The community of wonderful people, the faculty, staff, parents, students–everyone has the common goal, to “Dream Big, Do Right.” This is breathed through the entire MPA experience, so much that when I pick Isaac up at the end of the day, he shares stories of all the wonderful experiences that have encouraged him to continue to dream big and do right. This school is the epitome of all we could but dream of– a wonderful, solid, first-class education, providing opportunities for the students to be recognized as individuals and also allowing them to learn how important each of their contributions are, building towards a higher purpose for which they have all been a part of.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
That the Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions are all on the same campus, that there is a synchronous connection between the divisions, and that there is respect by all who are part of the MPA community.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Every day, Isaac is encouraged to do the right thing, given the options of how best to handle situations, whether it is in the classroom, the corridor on the way to lunch, or out at recess. In the classroom, Isaac is asked to approach situations where he is given the confidence and self-belief that he can achieve it, encouraging him to dream big. Read More

Meet The Alvarenga Family!

The Alvarenga familyWhat do you love about MPA?
There is so much to love about MPA. We love that the faculty at MPA find joy in their work and in their relationships with each other and with their students. MPA is truly an inclusive and welcoming community for all of its students, families and faculty! We love that our children are not only pushed academically but they are also pushed to explore and develop their musical, artistic, athletic, creative and social skills. The varied and fun course offerings allow the school to be constantly educating the children all the while allowing the children to have fun and be expressive. We love that MPA goes out of its way time and time again to communicate with us what is happening in our children’s days and weeks.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
The course offerings at MPA give our kids the opportunity to not only dream big but to do big things. Art, music, foreign language, and the Makerspace are offered to even the youngest students and give the kids the tools and experience they need to really dream big! The emphasis on communication at MPA enables conflicts to be handled the right way. Clear communication is time consuming and can be uncomfortable for children but the resulting conflict resolution reinforces the power of communication to achieve the right outcome. Read More

Meet Adi Boeder Risner ’02!

Adi Boeder's family What would you tell another family considering MPA?
In addition to the facts provided by the helpful admission team, I think that every prospective family needs to understand the implications of the faculty retention at MPA. Most of my favorite teachers spent the majority of or their entire careers at MPA, and some of them are still teaching today. I’ve observed that for so many faculty members, aligning their passion with MPA values continues to fulfill their vocation as educators, year after year. When I think of all of those students impacted by teachers who are as dedicated to the school as they are to their field, I feel more confident than ever about our decision to continue this tradition for our family.

In what ways has MPA prepared your child for life in the 21st century?
Years ago, my mother shared that a friend of hers, another MPA parent, told her that no matter what your child excels at, the teachers at MPA will find it. As an alum, I absolutely believe this is true, but I’ll add that they don’t stop when the skill is discovered. Proficiencies are recognized, but not praised in a way that prevents students from experimenting with new opportunities. In the 21st century, we are faced with the challenge of preparing our children with a skillset for an unknown future. For my son, I know that he will be continuously exposed to multiple disciplines throughout his entire duration at MPA, and encouraged to make balanced decisions about his interests when he has that freedom. This emphasis on exposure and balance over perfection will prepare him for an evolving future full of choices that don’t yet exist. Read More