Meet Upper School Science Teacher Mitch Thomsen

Mr. Thomsen working in the gardens with studentsWhen and how did you first come to MPA?
August 1991. I had moved back to Minnesota in 1989, got married and taught for a year at St. Bernard’s school in St. Paul. I wanted to make a change and interviewed at MPA and St. Thomas Academy. I was offered a job at both schools. I really liked the atmosphere at MPA, knew Chris Jensen, and felt that MPA was the best place for me.

What memories do you have of your first days at MPA?
The joyful return of the students at Back to School Night. Camille Wainwright doing interesting demos in chemistry. Chris Jensen keeping the biology classes moving. I remember feeling that I was in a “fast” crowd. Here, at MPA, all the faculty were very talented and hard-working. The goal is creative, student-involved education and everyone, everywhere was doing this. The school was alive with positive action. I felt I needed to “raise my game” if I was going to be an effective part of this hard-charging group. There was such a collegial feeling between all the teachers. The male teachers had to wear a shirt and tie. This is where I started my biology tie collection. Mostly I was quiet and I listened. There was a lot to learn.

What’s the best thing about being a teacher at MPA?
I have the freedom to do what is best for my students. I can explore new ideas with colleagues and come up with interesting things for myself and the students to do. I can bring in new best practices and keep my classes current with what is happening in the world now. I can use the garden area as an ongoing research resource. I have connections with Ramsey Washington Metro Water Shed District and their expertise and support has been critical to the success of the rainwater gardens at school. I have the support of the administration and they have been instrumental in encouraging me to be involved in the garden, new classes, and new technologies. I have a wonderful relationship with my fellow science teachers. Every day is like a department meeting as we talk and share new ideas, and activities in a very collegial setting. We work together well as a team and we support and help each other. Read More

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 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!