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


Great Schools Depend On Great Teachers & Staff

from Bill Hudson, Head of School

This is the second of a four-part series of Head’s Messages that dives deep into MPA’s new strategic plan, 2024ward. Today we will outline this priority: Affirm and inspire our exceptional and dedicated faculty and staff through competitive compensation. The first article may be found here. An overview of 2024ward may be found here.

“It’s like baking a lasagna and baking a cake at the same time in the same kitchen, but you can only use one bowl,” responded one teacher when asked in a national survey to describe what teaching has been like during the pandemic. Teachers have demonstrated and modeled incredible resiliency as they pivoted to remote learning, to hybrid learning, and back to in person learning (and back to remote, unfortunately) along with a number of health and safety measures layered upon what typically happens in a classroom. Together with those in the medical field, public health, and first responders, teachers have been real heroes over the last two years.

Nowhere was this more evident to me than observing master teacher Mari Espeland one day in the fall of 2020. Mari was teaching music to two first grade classrooms simultaneously, one via Zoom, without singing. I marveled at the ease in which she transitioned between three distinct learning activities within 30 minutes. However, as a teacher myself, I know that what appeared to be effortless required a great deal of planning, a deep knowledge of music education, a thorough understanding the developmental needs of young learners, and many years of experience. Despite the limitations brought on by the pandemic, the students in Mari’s class were engaged, joyful, and learning about rhythm. Read More


Upper School Division News January 13, 2022

from Mark Segal, Upper School Director

Those of you who drop off your children at school each morning know that Mr. Comfort, Mr. Haase, and I are at the north door eagerly awaiting student arrival, regardless of the temperature, daily. This morning, however, was different. The shift to virtual school left me missing this important part of the day. Welcoming and checking-in with students as they arrive at school is as important for me as it is for them. Their face mask covered smiles and high-fives help me start the day on the right foot and help me establish the right mindset for the day ahead.

I am confident that the time away from on campus, in-person learning will help to stop the current spread of COVID impacting the MPA student community. Just because we are not physically together does not mean that we will forego the important human connection that is part of the MPA ethos. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “those with strong social-emotional skills are better able to manage daily challenges and advance academically and socially.” Although we will be physically distanced for the next few school days, we will continue to focus on building these social-emotional skills to connect us socially.

As we look ahead to the next week, teachers will check in with their students and advisees to see how they are doing and gauge if they are in a cloudy, rainy, or sunny disposition. We will meet via Zoom as a community next Wednesday (January 19) to kick off the second semester and third quarter with a Wednesday edition of our weekly Monday Morning Meeting. Important information will be shared, laughter will happen with the Student Council facilitated Monday Morning Memo, and Mr. Comfort will grace us with one of his “groan-worthy” jokes.

Please remind your student that they should follow their regular schedule and plan to “attend” each of their classes synchronously. This does not include any scheduled study halls. As if we were meeting in person, attendance will be taken at the start of each block and students should be dressed appropriately and ready for class. Please make sure your student has set aside an appropriate, well-lit workspace (NOT their bed) to attend class. Computer cameras are required to be turned on and pointed at your student’s face. Read More


Welcome To MPA, Holly Metzler

What position will you be holding at MPA?
Health Office Nurse

From what school/organization are you coming?
M Health Fairview

Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I completed my nursing degree in December 2021. This is my first job as a nurse and I am very appreciative of the opportunity! Early in life, I earned a BA in Literature/Art History and a MS in Human Services.

What did you find appealing about MPA during the interview process?
I’ve heard great things about MPA and wanted the opportunity to work with children of all ages.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to get to know the children at MPA and take good care of them while they are at school 🙂

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
I have two children—Indira is in eighth grade and Everett is in sixth grade at Stillwater Middle School. We enjoy traveling together, trying new activities as a family, and both kids are involved in sports such as lacrosse, skiing, football and golf. In my downtime, I like to exercise, spend time with family and friends, and plan trips.

What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
My hobbies include singing, songwriting and playing guitar. And I look forward to getting back to music now that nursing school is complete.


Connect With MPA Parents This January

Parent Education Night
Save the Date for a Zoom Parent Education Night! January 27, 6:30-7:45 PM, please join MPA families to learn about neurodiversity in our school community.

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 25th from 2:30-5:30 PM.

January Walks with Dogs
Join Michelle Mick Friday, January 14 for a walk in a local dog park. Bring your dog or not, we’ll meet at Battle Creek Dog Park, a lovely, big, off-leash dog park with 35 acres at 8:15 AM. Parking is off Upper Afton Road, in the parking lot next to the dog park. Look for Michelle and her dog (Rufus), near the entrance of the dog park.

For your GPS, the address is: 2350 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, MN 55119. The contact person is Michelle Mick, and please feel free to SMS or call 651-328-7312 if you can’t find us!

Microfunding Grants
Looking for Microfunding for your club or classroom? It’s not too late to apply for these PA grants. Please send your applications to Natalie King, our micro-funding chair at natalieking10414@gmail.com. Applications can be found here.


Meet MPA World Language Teacher Kari Kunze

Kari KunzeHow many years have you been at MPA?
This is my 22nd year at MPA (32nd year of teaching).

What do you love about MPA?
I love how the school embraces all academic areas as “essential.” Our students are effortlessly interdisciplinary in how they understand the world around them. I see it in my students in class and in my children at home, and every time, I am amazed and impressed.

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
MPA students have opportunities to go beyond the MPA curriculum through programs like the Graduate Certificates of Distinction and the Malone Online Schools Network. The liberal arts curriculum builds from the solid foundation of the Middle and Lower schools to very advanced classes in the content areas. Students are able to achieve excellence in their passions that they can carry beyond our school. Read More


Innovating Our Future

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Happy new year! I hope that you and your family had an enjoyable break, spending quality time with friends and loved ones.

It was journalist and author William Vaughan who said, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” I suppose I am neither as I was in bed by 10:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. However, I do consider myself an optimist and while as a family we experienced tremendous loss in 2021, I do recognize the many good things that happened. As head of school of Mounds Park Academy, I am grateful that we were safely in-person and on campus for the majority of the year. The dedication and hard work of our amazing faculty and staff, a strong partnership with parents, and the resiliency of our students are certainly to be celebrated.

A new year brings new beginnings. A new year holds promise and opportunity. As a school, we begin the year with a new strategic plan, 2024ward. The new plan builds upon our former plan, Momentum 2020, and captures the energy to embrace the future with opportunity and enthusiasm. Strategic planning is one of the most important responsibilities of the MPA Board of Trustees.

Planning began in early 2019 by a constituent represented task force commissioned by the Board but was halted by the pandemic in the spring of 2020. Instead, the focus of the Board of Trustees and administration shifted from long-range strategic planning to the development a comprehensive scenario analysis and effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Given the demand on the school’s fiscal and human resources necessary to successfully navigate the ongoing pandemic, the board and head of school agreed to embark on an alternative, abbreviated approach. Read More


Parents Connect: January Events

January Events

We are looking forward to connecting with MPA families in 2022! Upcoming events and opportunities to look forward to include Family Education Evenings, All-School Sno Daze activities, Lower School Valentine’s Day party, and Middle School Café. Keep your eye on the Panther Post for sign-ups and opportunities to volunteer!

January Walks with Dogs

Friday, January 7 and 14, join Michelle Mick for a walk in a local dog park. Bring your dog or not, we’ll meet at Battle Creek Dog Park, a lovely, big, off-leash dog park with 35 acres at 8:15 AM. Parking is off Upper Afton Road, in the parking lot next to the dog park. Look for Michelle and her dog (Rufus), near the entrance of the dog park.

For your GPS, the address is: 2350 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, MN 55119. The contact person is Michelle Mick, and please feel free to SMS or call 651-328-7312 if you can’t find us!

Parent Winter Walk at 7 Vines

January 28, 5:45-9 PM, $55. Come enjoy a winter evening and snowshoe walk with other MPA Parents at 7 Vines Vineyard in Dellwood, MN! Ticket Price includes snowshoe rental (with help putting them on!) for a walk around the vineyard lit by twinkling candlelight ice luminaries, a complimentary beverage (mulled wine, kombucha, fancy coffee), four rounds of Bingo for prizes, s’mores, cocoa, and cider. 7 Vines will have exclusive pricing on food and wine that evening, as well. Attendance is limited to 100, and the Parents Association has reserved some spots for this event, but it does sell out. Please let us know if you are interested in joining in the fun by January 10. Contact Staci Banks, sbhehe42@icloud.com, or Venmo the cost of the tickets to @Staci-Banks-Hehenberger. Unfortunately, tickets are not refundable.


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 this is her first year as an MPA parent! Max is in tenth grade and Samantha is in eighth.

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


Charting Our Path Forward

from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As we approach the end of the calendar year, the song “Auld Lang Syne” will be sung at New Year’s Eve gatherings, a related song by Dan Fogelberg from 1980 will be repeatedly played on Sirius/XM radio, or folks will sing along at the finale of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ve never quite been able to remember, let alone pronounce, the words to the song, “Auld Lang Syne.” Nor can I carry a tune, for that matter. And yet I find the meaning behind the lyrics and music particularly poignant this year.

Just a year ago, there was great hope and optimism that the strife of 2020 would give way to a better year. And yet, in so many ways, it seems as though we are in nearly the same place as a year ago. It is clear to me that we will be battling with the virus for quite some time and working through its aftermath. Over the last year, we have faced both joys and challenges, managed hopes and anxieties, experienced growth and endured hardship, suffered isolation and celebrated community, persevered and remain mired in an all too familiar place.

There is much to be learned by reflecting upon our individual and collective journey over the past year. All of us—students, parents, teachers, and staff—are re-learning what it means to “do school,” how to be in relationship with one another, and the values that hold us together. All the while with masks on our faces and risk mitigation measures that sometimes have the unintended consequence of keeping us apart. Read More