CHARACTER MATTERS + Character Begins Here + Mixing Things Up + Inspiring Teaching + Passionate Volunteers
The terrible tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has shaken many of us to our core. As parents, it gives rise to our fears and form to our frustrations. The instability and uncertainty of our local, national, and global communities can also be a source of disillusionment with the status quo. This edition of MPA Now is focused on the school’s commitment to character education, not only as an important part of a whole-child education, but also as an imperative to make the world a better place. In today’s world, an excellent education is crucial, but it is not enough. As a parent, and as an educator, I see ever more clearly the need for moral, ethical leaders who are committed to creatively addressing the challenges we are facing. Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg notes that the average IQ rose 30 points in the 20th century, yet we lack answers to serious problems such as pollution, violence, political strife, income disparities, and climate change. Sternberg believes that the United States educational system has produced “smart fools.” Intelligence, he argues, that is not “modulated and moderated by creativity, common sense, and wisdom, is not such a positive thing to have” and will not result in the change our world needs. I recently heard a speech from Navi Radjou, innovation and leadership advisor and best-selling author based in Silicon Valley. His address, “Beyond Smartness: Leading Wisely in a Conscious Society,” examines how our abundant inner resources such as love, ingenuity, and wisdom, can be consciously directed toward a better future beyond “smartness.” In his book, “From Smart to Wise, Acting, and Leading from Wisdom,” Radjou says, “Wisdom leverages your intelligence: Your thinking and your leadership become more adaptable, broad-based, and sustainable. Wisdom gives you ethical clarity and a sense of purpose—enabling you to apply your smartness in the service of others.” At Mounds Park Academy, we believe that the best educational path is one that instills passion for knowledge together with moral and ethical development. When children gain the confidence and courage to challenge status quo, they become equipped to make a positive impact on our world. Despite the uncertainty and challenges we face as a society, I have great hope for the future. Young people across the country have found their voice and are actively engaged in creating the future we need. At MPA, character education is at the heart of dreaming big and doing right. Now , more than ever.
Dr. Bill Hudson Head of School
In This Issue SPRING 2018
CHARACTER BEGINS HERE
TODAY AT MPA
INSPIRING TEACHING WITH KRISTINE PETERSEN
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SELFIE
GET INVOLVED, GIVE BACK, STAY CONNECTED
MIXING THINGS UP IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ASHLEY COOPER
HELLO FROM THE PARENTS OF ALUMNI
TEACHING CHARACTER THROUGH LITERATURE
DEDICATION THROUGHOUT AND BEYOND A LIFETIME
OUR MISSION We teach students to think independently, communicate effectively, and act with respect and integrity in a diverse community that models intellectual ambition, global responsibility, and the joy of learning.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES Brent Peacock, Chair | Elizabeth Finch, Vice Chair | Kathleen Lamey, Secretary | Matthew Larson, Treasurer | Stephen Arsenault | Neelima Boddipalli | Kofi Bruce | James Cordon '97 | Michael Dai | Carolina Del Solar | Zoe Dickson | Jennifer Gatti | Rahoul Ghose | Thomas Hockert | Bill Hudson, Head of School | Robert King | Tiffany Scott Knox | Tobi Tanzer | Jessica Wong '05 For comments, questions, or address changes: Natalie Waters Seum, Director of Communications & Marketing at email@example.com On the cover: Second grade teacher Anne Scalia assists her students in collecting and counting the change they gathered every day for a week during the Birthday Box initiative. They were able to donate 80 Birthday Boxes to Emmaâ€™s Place.
As a progressive, independent school, Mounds Park Academy has a strong moral mission. Respect, integrity, and global responsibility are as central to the mission of the school as intellectual ambition and effective communication. Rooted in the idea that the human character is malleable and children are exceptionally capable of positively impacting the world, character has been taught as one part of the whole child since 1982. Varied, creative, and always evolving, how each teacher approaches character education is as unique as their own DNA. Teacher autonomy applies to all disciplines at MPA and is highly valued by teachers and administrators alike. It relies on mutual trust and is based on the idea that teachers are professionals who know their students best. So, in 2011, when the desire for a more formal character education during the early, foundational years rose to the surface, did the school’s leadership purchase a curriculum and mandate it? No. Did the school’s leadership design what they felt was best for children and urge teachers to implement it? No. In true MPA fashion, leadership turned to our in-house experts—teachers. CHAMP IS BORN “Character education was being woven in, but in very informal ways,” says Renee Wright, Lower School director and former teacher. “The idea was that we wanted something that would bring the division together to focus on shared goals.” School released in 2011 and a summer committee composed solely of teachers was formed: Dan Haase, then a third grade teacher; Anne Scalia, second grade teacher; Deedee Stacy, fourth grade teacher; Renee Wright then a third grade teacher; and Nancy Lage, librarian. They met at Stacy’s home to design a cohesive program with a strong academic foundation. The basis of CHAMP (Character Happens At Mounds Park) emerged that summer and the key components hold true today: a partnership between home and school is essential; character education is embedded into the full curricular and extracurricular experience; adults intentionally model the character we expect; strong character and positive behavioral choices should be practiced; and ongoing evaluation and evolution are needed to ensure the program’s viability. Led by Stacy, they created the acronym and the song—both of which are still used today. Seven traits of the program were identified—friendship, compassion, respect, self-control, responsibility, cooperation, integrity—with inclusiveness being added last year and courage being added this year. Two grades now team up to design and lead monthly Lower School assemblies around one or more of these traits. “The idea that we had—having monthly gatherings and expecting students to present those assemblies—gives students a lot of ownership and creates tremendous engagement,” says Wright. This student-led model was not being used broadly by other schools at the time, especially at the elementary school level. She adds, “The kids have been a big part of delivering the messages and we are delighted to celebrate and recognize that!” With few limits or parameters, the model was creative, unique, and engaging. “Because it was an organic program that we created to meet the needs of our school, teachers really engaged with it and bought into the whole idea. If you walk into a classroom today, you can hear someone refer to “CHAMP behavior.” They are using it in their classrooms and it is being reinforced every single day,” reflects Wright. The program they designed was so successful, so embraced, and so appreciated that it has stood the test of time, impacted hundreds, if not thousands of lives, and continues to grow and evolve today. 5
As a music teacher for young children, I strive to model CHAMP characteristics in all of my interactions with the children, hoping that my best self inspires each student to be their best. Mari Espeland Lower School Music Teacher
CHAMP IS EMBEDDED Guided by the idea that character education should be integrated into every aspect of the curriculum, the CHAMP program created a common and shared language that is embedded into every interaction and subject area. This means that the term CHAMP—or, more likely, one of the character traits it espouses—is just as likely to be heard in a gym class or math class as it is to be heard in a technology class or music class. Ms. Espeland, a music teacher at MPA for 27 years, shares what that might look like in her classroom. “An integral part of the Lower School music education experience is learning to work in a group. Students sing, dance, and play instruments together as a musical ensemble. Think of the high level of cooperation and self-control required to be in motion as everyone around you is in motion, too! Playing in ensemble requires that everyone is synchronized on the same steady beat as they play their part. Never a race, music provides both the framework for and challenge of working together.” In first through fourth grades, Ms. Kitch, PreK-12 technology integration specialist and new at MPA this school year, teaches digital citizenship based on Common Sense Media’s curriculum with the goal of fostering respectful and engaged online citizens. “We talk about our responsibilities and the impact of words that are shared online versus words that are spoken face to face. We discuss the incredible importance of exhibiting CHAMP behavior both in person and behind a screen.” Online safety, rules for interactions, evaluating fact vs. fiction, and crediting others’ work are all topics that our students discuss and practice in increasingly complex ways throughout Lower School and beyond.
Birthdays For Everyone Another way CHAMP is embedded into the students’ curriculum is through service and service-learning projects. The most notable and long-standing is the Birthday Box project, which provides celebration kits to children at a local homeless residence, Emma’s Place.
CHAMP IS EVOLVING Each summer, a new volunteer CHAMP committee meets to re-energize the program. They select a theme for the school year and other elements to keep it fresh and interesting for students. This year, courage was added as a trait. Each student identifies a courage goal each trimester and they recognize each other for demonstrating courage on the courage tree. “This might seem like a little thing to us, but it’s a really big thing to the students,” says Wright. Come spring, students will work in the Peace Garden, adding stump seats engraved with the traits to engage in kinesthetic learning. When asked what aspect of CHAMP makes Wright most proud she shares, “When I go into classrooms to talk about challenging topics, the comments that the students make come directly from CHAMP in heartfelt and genuine ways. They aren’t thinking about CHAMP in that moment, but what they are saying, and how they are describing their thoughts and feelings, come from what we’re teaching through the program. The students articulate it in their own words and directly from their hearts.”
Pre-dating CHAMP, Mary Beggin, second grade teacher, brought this program to MPA when she came in 1998. It has changed and evolved over the years, but now second and first graders partner to organize it. “Students came up with the idea of bringing in coins they earn at home each day for one week: pennies on Monday, nickels on Tuesday, dimes on Wednesday, quarters on Thursday and dollar bills on Friday. The first and second grade teachers then use this money to purchase items for birthday boxes. Last year, Emma’s Place served 60 children ranging in ages from 0 to 18 years, and we provided a box for each one. This year they have 80 children and our generous children donated enough money to make a box for each,” explains Beggin. Deeply embedded into the math curriculum, the change collected provides ample opportunities to identify and sort coins, estimate values, calculate values, and add it all together. “At this age they start realizing that it gives them joy to do things for others. We do it in big and small ways in second grade, from holding the door for others to writing weekly compliments to friends. It is amazing to see this grow over the course of the year and it increasingly becomes part of the fabric of who they are,” says Scalia.
BOOK FESTIVAL 2018 The theme of this year’s MPA Parents Association Book Festival, “What’s Your Story?,” allowed so much room for discovery for our little ones. The goal was to encourage reading and celebrate the strength, influence, and inspiration of storytelling among the Lower School. Perhaps it was the compelling artwork and stories of famous people who overcame adversity and pursued their dreams adorning our walls. Maybe it was seeing their peers, ninth grader Maya Peterson and eighth grader Ruby S., signing and talking about the journey of their own publications. Wherever the encouragement came from, the Lower School students proudly wrote and shared their stories, which were displayed and read by our community passing by all Book Festival week. On Book Festival Family Night, the most special moments captured how members of the community took on roles different from the ones we usually recognize them in. Eighth grader Charlotte B. was not an attendee, but rather the designer for the beautiful hand-drawn Book Festival logo on everyone’s badges and tote bags. Lower schoolers transitioned from students to the presenters as they read to their listener, a reading therapy dog. And Upper School students switched from mentors to cheerleaders as they helped Lower and Middle schoolers play and win festival games. At MPA, it feels more incredible each time that all of us, and our stories, come together as one. The 2018 Book Festival, through fun and through community, represented the power of storytelling to those who it was intended for—the Lower School—but also undeniably, and maybe even unexpectedly, every one of us.
Boys 7/8 Basketball 2015-16 CAA Divisionl Champions
EIGHTH GRADE CHARACTER PRESENTATIONS It is fascinating to see how comfortable MPA eighth graders are in front of a crowd. Perhaps it is because MPA students are introduced to public speaking early on to create that comfort. But when it comes to the Eighth Grade Character Presentations, a speech is more than just speaking. It may very well be the most personal students have ever been with their peers. With MAKER FEST
poise, pride, and a little bit of humor, the eighth grade
Coming up on the Makerspace’s first birthday, we’ve seen
students are giving their annual rounds of character
how children absolutely flourish in it. They are in there
presentations. The concept of the speech is simple.
growing, creating, learning, and playing every day. But
As you exit Middle School and enter your journey into
Ms. Koen developed an invention herself—a way to
Upper School, how has your character developed? But
showcase the brilliance of Makers among our entire
the content the students present is much deeper than
community. Thus, the first annual Maker Fest came to
that. They must first establish their interpretations
be on February 24, 2018, and it was an unforgettable
of the nine character pillars: collaboration,
Saturday at MPA. Maker Fest brought together students
communication, courage, creativity, curiosity, gratitude,
from every division, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and
integrity, perseverance, and respect. They dig into
parents of alumni, all connected by MPA and their
questions about themselves and how they exhibit, or
passionate creativity. Everything from handmade clothing
don’t exhibit, any of the nine. They then analyze and
out of found materials to robots and LED circuits lit up the
share the character traits they live and breathe every
Makerspace and cafeteria, with help, of course, from the
day and the ones they hope to possess as they begin
smiles of admiring guests and Makers.
these new stages of growing.
MPA TALKS The 2018 MPA Talks brought new perspectives, approaches, and stories as we gathered to hear from three of our insightful community members. MPA Parent Dr. Sheneeta White spoke to empower young women and motivate them to add value everywhere they go in life. Junior Ling DeBellis told her personal story, how her dedication, perseverance, and optimism helped her accomplish her dreams. Science faculty Hannah Sullivan opened our eyes to create opportunities out of our passions. These incredible women have written their own histories, and we are proud to have them as part of ours. 9
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SELFIE with
William Thao Class of 2018
WHEN DID YOU COME TO MPA AND WHAT WAS THE TRANSITION LIKE? I came to MPA in the middle of fourth grade from a public school in Wisconsin and the transition went very well. I shadowed during the school day, and within a couple of weeks, I transferred to MPA because I had fallen in love with everything about it. The long drive to and from school each day is definitely worth the education and
MPA has taught me to be an empathetic person who will listen to others, help those in need, and take risks if I believe in the cause. William Thao Class of 2018
experience. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MPA MEMORY? One of my favorites is the seventh grade Washington, D.C., trip. It was a unique experience to learn about America’s history, and allowed for great bonding time between my peers. Because Washington D.C. is at the heart of America’s lawmaking and government, this trip inspired my interest in environmental policy and my desire to become an environmental lawyer. HOW HAS MPA POSITIVELY INFLUENCED YOUR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT? MPA has helped to shape me to be the best person I can be. I have learned about academic integrity and what it means to be a respectful student. MPA has taught me to be an empathetic person who will listen to others, help those in need, and take risks if I believe in the cause. WHAT EXTRACURRICULAR AND ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN AND WHY? I am involved in debate, speech, and robotics. I joined debate and speech because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. Growing up, I tended to be more reserved and shy, but debate and speech have allowed me to confidently express myself. They have also taught me to view everything with a holistic perspective. In robotics, I am on the business team where I help with sponsorship and fundraising. This has helped me develop the necessary skills to effectively communicate with others. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ACTIVITIES AT MPA? MPA offers a plethora of activities, and I like that I am able to try so many. I am encouraged to try anything I want, even if I’m not very good at it, because the activities foster a healthy environment to have fun and grow.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AFTER GRADUATION? To go to college to study environmental science with an emphasis on environmental policy. Although I am not sure what school I will be attending next year, I am certain that I will be happy with whatever choice I make. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I am interested in joining the Peace Corps or going to law school to become an environmental lawyer. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL? From teen dystopian to non-fiction events, I enjoy reading just about any genre of books. When I am with my friends, we like to watch any type of movie. When there is no snow, I also enjoy roller skating in my driveway. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU? I have been a vegetarian for more than two years! My favorite lunchroom food is the black bean burger. IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO? Antarctica. When most people think of Antarctica, they think of the freezing climate and penguins. When I think of Antarctica, I think of its amazing biodiversity and how much of it has yet to be explored. If I could travel there, I would love to study its biodiversity and how it is being affected by climate change. IF YOU MET SOMEONE WHO WAS UNFAMILIAR WITH MPA, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM ABOUT OUR SCHOOL? MPA is truly a special place for everyone. From the awesome teachers to the close community, MPA fosters the perfect environment to literally dream big and do right. It guides students to grow and reach their full potentials to be the best people they can be.
Mixing Things Up In Middle School As students grow through the divisions at MPA, their character education needs change. What was engaging in Lower School does not translate well to the Middle School. Desiring a program that was designed specifically for this time in the middle, Mind-Person-Action (MPA) was born in 2016. It builds upon the foundation of the Lower School CHAMP program, and is made up of nine pillars: creativity, curiosity, perseverance, courage, gratitude, integrity, collaboration, communication, and respect. “We were looking for ways to personalize the program and embed the nine pillars into students’ day-to-day experiences. The faculty and students now have a common language to use and are encouraged to push themselves out of their comfort zones to expand their skills. Everyone has different strengths and areas for growth, so students monitor their own development through eportfolios,” says Erica Brewinski '96, Middle School director. One way to practice these skills is through monthly mixers that engage students in hands-on activities that focus on one or more of the pillars. In mixed grade groups of nine students that change every three months, each cycle of three sessions builds on the last, ending with the activity that pushes students the furthest outside of their comfort zones. “It’s a little risky—for some students more than others—but it’s still safe because there’s a teacher there and students know at least a couple of other students in the group. There’s no doubt that students are being asked to stretch themselves socially and emotionally,” says Brewinski.
Mixers vary widely and have challenged students to navigate through a maze in silence, stand in a circle asking personal “three things” questions in a high-energy rotation, create a gratitude quilt, build a pyramid of cups without touching the cups, and more. Brewinski explains, “Each activity gets them up and moving. And, we work hard to design activities that address all of the intelligences. If a student is weak in interpersonal skills, for example, perhaps they will excel at the drawing or the spatial awareness aspects of the activity. They can all shine in one way or another.” That’s one thing that teachers appreciate most about the time spent engaged in the mixers. They have noticed that they see students shine in ways that they do not see in their classrooms. It provides an even deeper, more meaningful studentteacher connection. “The mixers have evolved to a point where we are not naming one of the pillars, but instead more subtly practicing several. We love that students are becoming more comfortable developing friendships outside of their grade levels and we’re seeing the older students mentor the younger students,” says Brewinski.
In one large group of 10, students work together to write the word “persevere” using one marker and strings. Perseverance required.
While generally positive, students at this age are often not outwardly enthusiastic about activities that push them outside of their comfort zone. Seventh grader Ella Humphrey bucks that stereotype, however. “I think it’s really cool because you get to hang out with people that you wouldn’t normally. And you can talk about things that you wouldn’t normally. I feel more comfortable now connecting with students outside of my grade level.” When asked how her peers feel, she says, “People think they are more fun and more beneficial than they want to admit.”
Alex Bolduan '05, Middle School assistant, recently completed her initial teacher licensure program and played a vital role in designing and implementing the mixers. A kid at heart, she sought out activities that appealed to her. “I think we’ve been successful with that. The goal is to get them thinking about one of the character pillars in an active and engaging way, so they can actually practice those character skills and then reflect on that practice. They really seem to be connecting.” Bolduan even snuck her own square into the gratitude quilt. “We have so much to be grateful for in Middle School at MPA,” she shares.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE MPA COMMUNITY? I originally joined the MPA community in 2008 as a staff member at Breakthrough Twin Cities. After earning my master’s degree in 2015, I worked as a school-linked mental health therapist in the Saint Paul Public Schools. I was beyond thrilled to learn that I would be returning to MPA in the fall of 2017 as the grades 7-12 school counselor. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MPA? During the seven years I worked at Breakthrough Twin Cities, I was fortunate to get to know many MPA faculty members, recruit MPA students for teaching and volunteer opportunities, and even sit with Lower School students at lunch (some of whom are now in eighth and eleventh grades)! I love how MPA focuses on generosity, lifelong learning, and kindness. I feel grateful to be at a place where I can be completely myself and can encourage others to do the same. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MPA MOMENT? My favorite MPA moments are when the community comes together to have fun and build positive relationships. Whether it’s singing the school song at a pep rally, watching older and younger students play together during a Pairing Assembly, learning a new word at Lower School lunch, or listening to a student give their senior speech. I love seeing gratitude and growth happening in real time. WHAT’S YOUR SECRET TALENT? I started playing the flute in middle school and participated in band until well after I graduated from college. That’s like 13 years! WHAT’S A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU? My husband, Mike Velin, is an MPA alum from the Class of 2006. We met while volunteering at Best of MPA (now called the Spring Auction) in 2011. We were married in November and recently started renovations on our first home in Saint Paul. While he works in private wealth
WITH ASHLEY COOPER Middle and Upper School Counselor
management during the day, one may often see Mike wandering the MPA hallways after work or serving as treasurer of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. He loves being at MPA just as much as I do!
Around Mike Verlin’s '06 wrist is a bracelet with MPA’s motto, “Dream Big. Do Right.” He’s worn it every day, including his wedding day in November, since he received it at Homecoming.
TEACHING CHARACTER THROUGH LITERATURE A Q&A With MPA’s English Teachers When one examines the PreK-12 scope and sequence of MPA’s English curriculum, a central theme that emerges is a strong belief in the ability of literature to inspire caring, inclusive, and courageous human beings. While character education is embedded in every discipline, it shines brightly in English. The themes students explore through literature build upon one another, ranging from being a good friend in PreK, to perseverance in fifth grade, to forgiveness in 12th grade.
“Teaching character through literature is ongoing, and a
Literature allows us to listen to another’s story and observe
thread that pulls all of the divisions together,” says Deedee
ourselves and our hopes and our fears without going forth
Stacy, fourth grade teacher.
and making the same mistakes.
We asked our English teachers about how they approach
Sara Mohn, Upper School English teacher: Imaginative
character in their classrooms. In a variety of ways, they all
literature is a vehicle like no other. It allows us to empathize by
share Sara Mohn, Upper School English teacher’s sentiment:
climbing inside another’s head.
“It’s why I teach English. We read to be better people.” Nancy Lage, librarian: This is the concept of windows and WHY IS TEACHING CHARACTER THROUGH
mirrors, where students can hear stories about characters
LITERATURE SO EFFECTIVE?
whose lives and experiences are similar to their own and also
Katherine Myers, Upper School English teacher: Fictional
very different. It’s a safe way for children to move beyond
characters give us a safe distance to watch the common
their own environment and try to understand what it might
foibles, errors, and misjudgments unfold and to celebrate the
be like for someone else. Literature helps us build cultural
moral strongholds, the beauty of humanity, and the redirection
competency and global understanding.
of so many damaging decisions that can be corrected. 16
Scott Wilson, first grade teacher: Children can identify with
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR STUDENTS BEING
the characters and see when various character traits come
POSITIVELY IMPACTED BY LITERATURE?
into play. It is a great opportunity for the teacher to help the
Yamini Kimmerle, fourth grade teacher: Reading a biography
child identify and give a name to what they are hearing about.
of Thurgood Marshall, and the dialogue that followed,
Then when they have the same feeling they can name it
has led one of our students to wanting to pursue a career in
and own it.
social justice. Talk about music to our ears!
HOW DO YOU SELECT THE LITERATURE
Anne Devout Atchison, Middle School English teacher:
When following his journey to the underworld and Odysseus
Anne Devout Atchison, Middle School English teacher:
becomes despondent, eighth graders can empathize. This
Honestly, it’s an agonizing process. Though there are different
forces the question in their own lives: How can we pick
purposes and reasons behind each piece of literature I select,
ourselves up when we face the profound and painful passages
here are my criteria: Good literature reveals truth in ways that
of life? Together they respond, share, and imagine ways to
non-fiction cannot; it affirms the beauty of life; it displays and
climb out of deep pits of despair, they discover things about
honors the beauty of words; it stokes and strengthens the
each other they didn’t know before, and realize they don’t have
imagination; it provokes the status quo; it develops empathy.
to climb alone. Yes, there are tears sometimes. And yes, they rejoice in each other’s victories, but year after year, eighth graders come to a similar conclusion: We can and should be there for one another. Dragons can be beaten. Shelly Steingraeber, third grade teacher: Teaching character through literature provides a concrete example for students to see, hear, experience, discuss, and connect to their own experiences. Lower School students easily relate to, connect with, and want to engage with the stories they hear. The conversations spark reflection, ideas for how to use a certain trait, and inspire the class to courageously “give it a try.” To read an extended Q&A on this topic with Anne Devout Atchison, founding faculty member, visit moundsparkacademy.org/atchison.
Patti Meras, Middle School English teacher: The literature we read in fifth and sixth grades lays that foundation and builds upon the character pillars we teach in Middle School. I want literature to be relatable, timely, and enjoyable, but I ultimately want it to send a message of compassion and empathy for others. For example, in “Wonder,” [a children’s novel by R.J. Palachio] we stop and ask ourselves, “If Auggie Pullman came to MPA, how would we welcome him and show him he belongs?” I want students to see themselves in the literature. This is deep stuff for fifth grade, but it gives kids the opportunity to jump into the character’s shoes.
Literature allows us to listen to another’s story and observe ourselves and our hopes and our fears without going forth and making the same mistakes. Katherine Myers Upper School English Teacher
INSPIRING TEACHING with
“Ms. P. knows how to teach children. She was born for it and you can tell she is living her dream from the smile that is always on her face,” says Nicholas Guiang, a senior at MPA who fondly remembers his time with Kristine Petersen, also known as Ms. P. or Ms. Fouks. She exudes the kind of passion for education and for people that is contagious, not just in the kindergarten year, but throughout her students’ lifetimes. Petersen came to MPA in 1988 as a long-term substitute teacher hired by then-Lower School director, Joanne Olson. For 30 years, she’s shared her gift with hundreds, witnessing her students and the school grow roots, mature, and evolve. “The one constant is this—all of us in the community are given the opportunity to be who we truly want to be and thrive. We are given the gift to grow, develop, learn, explore, and inspire—it’s lifelong.” Kindergarten at MPA goes so far beyond sight words, days of the week, and observing the weather. While important, these foundational skills come naturally and easily through the robust academic curriculum. What makes kindergarten at MPA special is the sincere focus on inspiring good character and finding joy in
Her loving personality is something that I will always cherish and always love to see and feel. It’s hard not to go back to her class to show the person you have become and what impact she made on your life. Nicholas Guiang Class of 2018
learning. Petersen boldly models these attributes for her students. One of her favorite units was “Birthdays Around the World.” The classroom traveled the globe, learning by “visiting” different countries. They discussed special meals, songs, games, and activities done to honor a child in a country on their birthday. She shares, “When we studied and then traveled to Haiti, I would hang palm trees from the ceiling and bring in real swimming pools. The kids were actually swimming in my classroom! We danced and we sang and we celebrated with such joy.” She continues, “I’ll never forget when one of those pools flooded my classroom after a child put pressure on one side. It was awesome! Thank goodness I learned early in my career the facilities staff is extremely important in helping me create the atmosphere and the environment that I want for my students. It’s never just about one person impacting these children—the entire community inspires my kindergarten students.” Senior Quinn Campbell, explains the impact Petersen had on her. “Ms. P.’s personality helped me become a better person to this day. I live a better life because she helped us learn how to learn and still be able to act like children.”
While CHAMP, the formal Lower School character education program at MPA, did not exist for most of Petersen’s career, every MPA teacher focused on developing each child’s social and emotional skills in order for them to reach their full academic potential. Senior Rachel Lindrud shares, “Ms. P, like many MPA teachers, has been essential in teaching me how to properly and respectfully live in society. She always found a way to help us learn from our mistakes. As a result, I now know how to gauge one’s feelings, share, and how to be a good friend in any situation.” When asked how she makes that possible, Petersen says, “We take the time to ask questions of all children: What are you feeling? How did you make your friend feel? What could you have done differently? Through questions, students can understand how to solve problems, respectfully express themselves, and feel good about the resolution. These skills help them be happy and emotionally grounded—prepared for anything that comes their way.”
To create Birthday Boxes, Lower School students collect and count change every day for a week each year. This year, they pitched in enough for 80 boxes to donate to Emmaâ€™s Place.
Humbled and Proud Jennifer Gatti MPA Trustee, Development Committee Chair, Parent My family has been fortunate to call Mounds Park Academy our second home for the last 12 years. While Claire is a junior, with a current sixth grader our MPA journey is far from over! Greta is a member of the class of 2024, which seems like a date from the future and more like science fiction than real life! Although we tend to think of education as having a definitive beginning and end, MPA’s powerful and positive influence will surround Claire and Greta long after graduation. This institution and its mission, curriculum, faculty, and values will serve as a lifelong inspiration for our family. Although our daughters will eventually depart MPA, we’ll all remain part of this remarkable community. In my years at MPA, generosity has been a constant theme—generosity of spirit, heart, talent, time, and resources of all kinds. It is exhibited every day. Our wonderful teachers extend themselves to their students and share their expertise with their colleagues; our students are generous by being true friends with their peers and global citizens; our parents serve as volunteers and engage in the daily life of our school by attending art exhibits, musical performances, athletic competitions, and academic events. In my role with the Development Committee, I am humbled and proud to recognize our community’s financial generosity. With nearly three quarters of the school year complete, we are on pace to meet our goals for the 2017-18 MPA Fund, which provides the essential support to make an outstanding MPA education possible for all students. Thank you for all you do to support MPA! 22
62 MEMBERS IN THE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE
CURRENT PARENT PARTICIPATION
COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN GIVING FOR 10 YEARS
FOR THE MPA FUND
176 3,926 volunteers
the average gift per donor
$14,191 RECEIVED FROM GIFT-MATCHING FOUNDATIONS & COMPANIES
AMANDA CAMPBELL FOR THE MAGICAL ONES
Thirteen years ago, Amanda Campbell started her MPA adventure with her daughter Quinn. The connections that they made within the MPA community is what she believes sets our school apart from the rest. Amanda shares, “I love the intention of keeping it intimate, but yet completely inclusive…the magical ones find their way here!” Amanda has been an active member of the Parents Association for many years. She first entered its board as the vice president of grade representatives and quickly transitioned to co-president her second year alongside Christine Larson. About Amanda’s first year as co-president, “I didn’t want to stop then. I had just figured out what I was doing.” Amanda and Christine continued to lead the Parents Association for an additional two years. What Amanda appreciated most about her time with the Parents Association was that she got to know so many people in the community. There were opportunities with the Parents Association for everyone that could play to each individual’s strengths. When asked what Amanda would miss when Quinn graduates this June, she says, “Ms. P!” The connections aren’t just formed parent to parent or student to teacher, connections are made between all members of our community and they are lifelong. “Thirteen years go by so quickly. I remember kindergarten. I remember first grade. Any chance I had, I was here helping so that I wouldn’t miss anything.” Thank you, Amanda, for 13 years of service to MPA. We wouldn’t be the magical school community we are today without you.
ON A JOURNEY TOGETHER
Wendy first discovered Mounds Park Academy years ago while babysitting her younger neighbors. She was drawn to their beautiful artwork that was displayed throughout the home. “I was amazed at what these children were doing at school,” Wendy says. Fast forward a few years to when she and her husband Andrew had children, they immediately knew that MPA would be a school on their list. When they visited campus, “without question MPA just felt right.” Wendy and Andrew currently have two children at MPA, Maeve in PreK and Declan in second grade, and have both dedicated their time to volunteering wherever MPA has needed them. Wendy’s mother was very involved in her education growing up, therefore she knew she would want to be active in volunteering at her children’s school in similar ways. “I wanted my children to know that I’m on this journey with them.” When Declan began at MPA in PreK, she primarily helped in the classroom. The Parents Association approached her to help more extensively after Declan entered kindergarten—that was when she realized how many opportunities there are for volunteers at MPA. “Volunteering is the lifeblood of the school—there is truly something for everyone,” she shares. After participating as a volunteer with the Parents Association for two years, she is currently serving as co-president. MPA is so grateful for the Cusick family and the countless ways they serve the school. 24
Mounds Park Academy extends its gratitude to the Parents Association for its leadership in promoting community and supporting MPA’s mission. Countless volunteers demonstrate their commitment to the school’s mission and values on a daily basis through their work. Traditional Parents Association projects continued this year, including Microfunding, Book Festival, Middle School Café, the Grade Representative Program, Faculty & Staff Appreciation, Lower School classrooom parties and much more.
CLARENCE KNOX PAYING IT FORWARD MAKES SENSE
“We wanted to find a school that would push Alex academically, but also celebrate him and who he is,” Clarence says of bringing their son Alex, now in first grade, to MPA. Clarence and Tiffany looked at many metro schools but wanted something more. Located in Minneapolis, they were willing make the drive across the Twin Cities to ensure Alex developed not only academically, but also as a person. Clarence is an active volunteer in the Office of Admission and Athletics. “Volunteering is a way to give back more than what you give in tuition. It’s a way to add to the growth of the students and MPA,” he says. Clarence advises those in the MPA community who are looking to volunteer to determine where your passions lie and there will be an opportunity for you. As a former North Carolina State basketball player, Clarence’s true desire to help is most heavy on the court. Not only is he hosting Little Dribblers, a weekly Lower School basketball clinic, but he has also been assisting with the Varsity Basketball Teams since last year. Clarence is grateful for the role models that the Upper School students have become for Alex, showing that paying it forward makes sense. He says, “If there is anything I can do to promote growth in these older kids, they will in turn do the same for my son.” The MPA community cannot thank Clarence enough for the time, energy, and positivity that he commits to every volunteer opportunity.
Please email Wendy Cusick and Sally Richie, Parents Association co-presidents, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting more involved with the Parents Association.
Volunteer at Volunteers are so important to the fabric of our community! Whether you have a little time or a lot, there is an opportunity on campus that aligns with your passions. Please contact Ashley Goetzke, Capital Campaign and Stewardship Manager, at 651-748-5536 to express your interest in volunteering at MPA! 25
For more than three decades, MPA has engaged thousands of students in a transformative college-preparatory education that empowers them to think independently, act with integrity, and achieve their goals. MPA has been a springboard for our students’ ongoing success, allowing alumni to excel in their chosen fields while remaining deeply connected to MPA’s entrepreneurial spirit.
A Message From the Alumni Association Board Mike Velin '06 Alumni Association Board Member As a child, two things stood out: I wanted to be an architect so I could help people build their dream homes; and my parents introduced me to the concept of budgeting before the age of five. As I grew, my passion for helping people achieve something they couldn’t do alone continued.
2017–18 BOARD OF DIRECTORS I’ve been active on the Alumni Association Board since 2010. I’ve always felt a deep indebtedness to MPA. I came to MPA from a public school and was immediately behind, but never once did I feel inadequate or out of place. My first day at MPA truly feels like the first day of my life. The school and my friends have pushed me well beyond where I ever thought I would be, let alone where I ever could have gone alone. MPA instilled in me the desire to help others. That’s why I do my best to continue to support our growing community, in hopes that one day someone is able to say the same thing about the work we do.
Annie Stewart '11, Chair James Cordon '97, Vice Chair Michael Velin '06, Treasurer Nate Bander '09 Karl Berget '07 Jeremy Drucker '97 Andrea Heil '10 Peter Kieselbach '06 Erica Isaac Christopher Parish '95 Vance Ryan '08 Jacob Schwartz '09
After graduating in 2006, I tried to replicate the MPA culture at St. John’s University, and then at St. Thomas University for my graduate degree. Although I didn’t end up being an architect, a close mentor of mine from MPA helped shift my focus to personal wealth planning. I realized that people don’t just have one dream, but many, and there is no greater way to help them achieve those dreams than by being by their side every step of the way.
I was recently at an MPA vs. SPA basketball game (spoiler: we won!) and after hearing the student section loudly singing the Mmmm-PA, Mmmm-PA, Mmmm-PA-PA song all these years after Mr. Ed left, I realized that what made MPA so special for us continues to make it special for the students today. That secret sauce is what continues to draw me back.
Michaela Toohey '96
This past year has been a whirlwind. My wife, Ashley Cooper (see page 14), and I got married in November after completing two marathons— Eau Claire and NYC! We also bought a house that we are remodeling, in hopes that one day it’ll be as clean as the day bought it.
So I ask you…what’s your why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you the person you are? For most of us, we can track it all back to the same commonality: MPA. So how are you going to help others continue realizing their dreams?
the Alumni Association Board
Jessica Wong '05 Special Liaisons: Dana Boyle Nansee Greeley If you are interested in joining of Directors, please email email@example.com. We are currently accepting nominations, which will be reviewed during the May board meeting. Thank you for getting involved!
SPRING AUCTION UNDER THE BIG TOP
THE GOLD SOCIETY
Get your alumni tickets at a reduced price today!
involvement and generosity with the GOLD Society!
Join us on Saturday, May 12, at the JX in Stillwater for this fabulous community-building event that allows parents, alumni families, faculty, and grandparents to connect, enjoy an evening out, and take home some fantastic
We are happy to highlight our young alums for their Graduates of the Last Decade who contribute $25 or more will be recognized for their support. Thank you for supporting MPA!
auction items, all while supporting the school that brings us together! All proceeds will support your alma mater and benefit freethinkers and free spirits just like you. Visit moundsparkacademy.org/springauction. We can’t wait to see you there!
Sign up for our e-newsletter! Send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive Alumni News featuring fellow Panther alumni, upcoming events, reunions, and more.
ALUMNI UPDATES ROSE MILLER '06 was honored with the Values Award by the Animal Humane Society for her outstanding work as the social media producer. LOGAN ERICKSON '15 was awarded the prestigious international title of IGDA Scholar from the Independent Game Developers Association Foundation. Logan was one of 18 recipients in the world to receive
REUNION WEEKEND SEPTEMBER 28 AND 29, 2018 Mark your calendar for Homecoming and Reunion Weekend 2018, September 28 and 29, 2018! Classes celebrating their Milestone Reunions include 1988, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2008, and 2009. More information will be sent in the coming months about the on and off campus events for all alumni. We are looking forward to welcoming you home!
this honor in 2018. ERIN LAW '12 received a Crystal Pillar Award from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Erin’s documentary, created with Megan McKinley of California, was “Dress For Success.” The mission of “Dress For Success” is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. JACOB SCHWARTZ '09 was named the Mounds Park Academy Boys Basketball head varsity coach this fall, and has coached the team to incredible success. MPA is so grateful to have Jacob coaching the next generation of athletes! EVAN FERLIC '15 received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Men’s Cross Country Team.
YEAR OF 100 STORIES It may be hard to believe, but MPA has graduated more than 1,500 alumni in its 35 years of existence—from 1986 through the spring of 2017. We are working hard to collect your stories and design a more connected and productive network that works for you and the entire MPA community. This year, the MPA Alumni Association is launching the Year of 100 Stories. We hope you’ll tell yours. Your stories will inspire current MPA students, give your former teachers the excitement of knowing what you’re up to, and allow us to begin a mapping project to better connect alumni to other professionals throughout the MPA community. Our reach is growing every year, and your collective life journeys are at the heart of what makes an MPA education exceptional. Go to moundsparkacademy.org/alumni to tell your story!
Finding Richness Through Balance Adam Fetcher '02 is a typical well-rounded MPA alumnus. “I played basketball and soccer, was in three bands and three choirs, and participated in theater.” He grew up in North St. Paul and by middle school, his parents decided to invest in the great academics and diverse opportunities that MPA offered. At this small school he and his sister Anya could get involved in many activities, as opposed to specializing in only one or two interests at a larger school. An appreciation for trying new pursuits was baked into Adam’s essence. “The MPA culture made it cool to be smart, and I developed a lifelong curiosity,” he recalls. “My teachers really influenced me, introducing me to politics, activism, and thinking seriously about the world.” After graduating from Carleton College, Adam got involved in politics as a field organizer in Florida for former President Obama’s 2008 campaign. This opportunity to effect change fed a passion and sparked
Fetcher left Patagonia and followed his heart to
his interest in public service. He moved on to several
Minnesota and Askov Finlayson. Here, he is pioneering a
positions within the Obama administration and,
business model to create a net climate benefit.
while the pace was hectic and the job intense, the progress was exhilarating. Following Obama’s re-election campaign, Adam shifted
Following his heart when a long-distance relationship called
into the business world, landing a dream job leading
him back to Minnesota in 2016, Adam landed a great job
global communications for Patagonia. “Patagonia
with Askov Finlayson, the outdoor clothing company owned by
operates like a political campaign,” he shares. “They
Andrew and Eric Dayton. As vice president of environmental
have a great mission to improve the environment and
impact and policy, he leads climate policy efforts supporting
the lives of people around the world.”
the company’s mission to “Keep the North Cold.” Adam’s excited to grow the company into a national brand, bringing
Adam’s philosophy about balance was largely shaped
vision and passion to the job. Embracing a big-picture
by Patagonia’s Founder. Yvon Chouinard coined the
perspective, he believes “businesses need to strive for
term “80-percenter” to describe those who opt to
longer-term benefits to a diverse set of stakeholders, not just
continually take risks and try new things at the expense
maximum return to shareholders. At a time when our political
of becoming a serious expert in a single field. “I’d
system is not getting the job done, it’s up to business leaders
rather be at the 80 percent performance level in many
to step up courageously and create benefits for people and
different areas,” Adam shares. “It takes resilience and
self-confidence to let go of striving to be the best at sports, have the most friends, attend the top college or
Adam’s philosophy to let go of immediate gains in order to
however society defines success. It’s important to find
reach for the ultimate goal reminds us that striking a balance
the right personal mix and cultivate the spirit
takes discipline—but it’s worth it.
of adventure.” 28
Committed to Science and Storytelling Meet Blair Benham-Pyle '06, a passionate scientist on her way to solving important scientific questions destined to improve our world. Blair is doing her post-doctoral research in regenerative medicine at the Stowers Institute, a highly innovative center for biomedical research. She’s currently immersed in studying the cute, but highly unusual, planarian flatworm, an organism that exists by breaking apart and cloning itself. Unlike other organisms in the process of regeneration, these worms amazingly do not get tumors or show signs of aging. “My job as a scientist is to understand—through rigorous study in the lab—how they are able to control stem cell growth so robustly that they can protect themselves against cancer and aging,” explains Blair. “We want to know their life strategies and how a tiny group of cells can be cleaved off without damaging their basic blueprint. In layperson’s terms, we are trying to break apart that black box and apply our discoveries to improve human health.” Blair has always had the heart and mind of a scientist, recalling her many opportunities to experiment at MPA and delve deeply into subjects of interest with her teachers. She appreciates that she was given freedom to explore across many disciplines, including ethics, constitutional law, and writing. Evidence of these skillsets is seen in her work today. “As a scientist,” she reflects, “I believe storytelling is especially important. We have to be able to study the esoteric mysteries of the subjects we research, while communicating effectively to funders and other stakeholders the ultimate value of the idea we wish to pursue.” Asked how her work will make the world a better place, Blair explains, “Essentially, if we want to solve problems of aging in humans or how to repair damaged tissues, one strategy is to study organisms that don’t suffer from aging or develop cancer—ones that are able to reverse damage through healthy and controlled regeneration.” There is a palpable passion in her voice as she describes her work today. And Blair is very much the epitome of the wellrounded MPA alumna. When she graduated as a member of the 13-Year Club and headed off to Yale University, she took with her a profound sense of curiosity, courage, and agency to direct her own intellectual interests. A trip to study forests in Ecuador during her sophomore year inspired her to pursue a joint Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in biophysics and biochemistry. She then did a year-long internship on a Henry Luce Scholarship in Shanghai, affording ample opportunities to enjoy travel throughout Asia. Blair obtained her Ph.D. at Stanford School of Medicine in cancer biology. Her college career, however, was not just limited to academics. She co-founded the Yale Bio-Ethics Society and at Stanford, served as president of the Bioscience Student Association on campus, finding a way to blend science with community engagement. MPA wishes Blair continued success as she pursues this incredible work.
Is your child a freethinker? A free spirit? A risk taker? A right maker? Alumni are the cornerstone of our community. To aid in your legacy, we offer the Children of Alumni Program, allowing you to provide an MPA education to your young children. K-5 | 100% of demonstrated financial need | $5,000 minimum contribution
Contact Craig Dodson, Director of Admission, at email@example.com or 651-748-5519 with questions and to arrange a tour.
Exquisite cuisine, a host bar, live music, games, and a silent and live auction will make the 2018 Spring Auction an evening to remember. We hope you join us at this celebration of our community and our only fundraising event of the year! Get your tickets today at moundsparkacademy.org/springauction!
Technology, Values, and Advice David Siegel '04 is a techie, philosopher, and creative thinker. Blending his love of technology with a sensitivity to human flourishing, he is driven to understand how technology affects people. “I’m naturally skeptical of the techno-utopian tenet that technology will inevitably create the world we want,” he shares, “so I’m concerned with building technologies consistent with our core values.” Currently working as a design leader at Microsoft in San Francisco, he also recently founded a company around his open source project, quicktype.io, which he summarizes in layman’s terms as “autocorrect for data.” After eight months since David began working on quicktype as a side project, it’s approaching 30,000 monthly users and is snowballing in popularity with developers. He expects to reach 100,000 users per month and to build a business on top of the open source foundation this year. “Develop your own theories about problems that During his years at MPA, David gravitated mostly toward
interest you, seek out people working on those
Spanish, film, writing, and critical thinking. He especially
problems, and explain your ideas to them. View
loved arguing contentious topics with others, which was
professional challenges as opportunities for creative
encouraged at school. He was also personally motivated
thinking and devise your own solutions to these
to seek knowledge about emerging technologies, and
problems, rather than succumbing to pressure to
MPA’s laptop program was vital.
After graduation, David attended the University of
“Keep learning and thinking,” he says. As a designer,
Pennsylvania, where he earned dual degrees in
David continues to explore the role of technology and
philosophy and computer science engineering. Despite
how it can better serve our values. Check out one
graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, he
of his older projects, iamfutureproof.com, for more
admits he has never used his resume and has reported
on this topic. “Futureproof is a collection of articles,
directly to the CEO at every position he’s held (until
experiments, and tools that enrich your life by helping
joining Microsoft via acquisition in 2016).
you develop a more sophisticated relationship with
DAVID'S ADVICE TO MPA STUDENTS
technology,” he shares.
“Understand that college is valuable because of what
“Learn to think, listen, and argue as clearly and
it does to your brain, so treasure the opportunity and
honestly as you can. Be present and pay attention
learn as much as you can about the things that interest
when communicating. If you want to be a leader,
you most. There is a lot of confusion about whether
be the person who can get others to shut off their
or how higher education is valuable, especially in the
technology and listen to you—control the distraction.
tech world, but the benefit of education is real and
Also, read the book, The Beginning of Infinity:
enormous, and you’re incredibly fortunate to have
Explanations that Transform the World by
access to it.”
Hello From the Parents of Alumni
Parents of Alumni MOUNDS PARK ACADEMY
Jeanne Danaher, Parents of Alumni Board Chair Mom to Megan Wright '14 firstname.lastname@example.org and pride and is a reoccurring message voiced by many MPA parents of alumni. The journey with our children though the MPA years has forged authentic and caring friendships. And even though we drift in and out of these relationships, it is amazing how easy it is to pick up where we left off and reconnect. That is the goal of the POA, to continue those friendships whether current or lapsed. All parents of MPA alumni are automatically members of the POA. We welcome your support in any formâ€”whether by attending events, joining the board, hosting a gathering, or helping generate new ideas. Please look for upcoming events this fall when we will sponsor a POA and Teacher Social and the always well-attended College We are the Parents of Alumni (POA) whose purpose is to keep
Years Social for parents of current college students. We are
connected with the MPA community. We value preserving and
also considering an educational panel discussion
growing relationships to cement our common bonds and do
and welcome your ideas on subjects, speakers, location,
this through providing entertaining social events, educational
opportunities, and lifelong learning. Feel free to contact me if you have ideas, suggestions, or We are in a unique position to comment on the impact the
would like to get involved.
MPA experience is having on our children. As we watch them move into adulthood, we not only see the benefits of a quality education, but also a pattern of behavior in our children that reflects respectful and positive character attributes. This distinctive outcome is directly related to the nurturing environment afforded by MPA. By way of example, one parent observed that MPA fostered countless constructive behaviors, which gave his son a mental toughness and ability to persevere. MPA coached that aspect beyond what he as a parent could do, translating into a
UPCOMING PARENTS OF ALUMNI EVENTS May 12, 2018 Spring Auction September 2018 Parents of Alumni and Teacher Social November 2018 Parents of Alumni College Years Social
willingness for his son to take on tough tasks with intelligence and moral integrity. This example fills us all with appreciation
More information to followâˆ’watch your email!
Dedication Throughout and Beyond A Lifetime Wade Peterson '87 shares why where you want to leave your legacy is important—and why his will remain at MPA through planned giving. “The first time I came to Mounds Park Academy was
Since then, Peterson has been willing to assist or
in May of 1983. I visited as an eighth grader to see if
lead where he could. While building his private college
I wanted to attend the school. I had lined up visits to
counseling consultancy practice, he substitute taught,
multiple schools, including other local independent
filled an interim world history position, proctored exams,
schools. I visited MPA, canceled all of the other visits, and
coached sports, and continued to coach the extremely
I came here,” says Wade Peterson, a proud member of
successful Quiz Bowl teams at the Middle and/or Upper
MPA’s second graduating class in 1987, composed of 19
School levels (varied by year).
students. Instantly attracted to MPA then, he continues to be a staple in the hallways, both for our students and for
In 2010, he was brought on by Breakthrough Twin Cities
to lead its college counseling. This nonprofit organization based out of MPA prepares under-resourced students
When asked why his parents were willing to take a risk on
for college success and cultivates the next generation
such a new and innovative school, Peterson explains. “I
of educators. He works with 80 students in 20 different
was somebody who was really happy to be anonymous—
high schools each year and is the first and only college
not really causing anyone any trouble, but not really doing
counselor the organization has ever had. “This is the
anything either—so my mom was worried about that,”
greatest job I’ve ever had. I really enjoy working with first
says Peterson. “She was somebody who was not very risk
generation college students, and it’s been an incredible
averse in education, so I think she was intrigued by this
experience,” he shares. “I still coach soccer and
new school and really liked the sound of it.”
baseball for Middle School, and quiz bowl. I’m still here for MPA in some capacity.”
“It was just amazing how happy the students were. It was very different. Instantly I wanted to come to school every
Of course he is! Yet another way he has been here for
day,” he recalls fondly. “There are a lot of similarities to this
MPA is as a member of the MPA Alumni Association
day. The individualized focus has never been lost here. The
Board of Directors. In that role, Peterson was one of the
similar feeling in how close you are to your classmates and
first members of the Legacy Society in 2008. “I’m not
friends has never been lost despite the increased size.”
somebody who’s going to have big money necessarily, but I think it’s important to think about where you want to
After graduating, Peterson went to the University of
leave your legacy.”
Chicago and then transferred to and graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in anthropology.
“It’s an easy way that you can continue to contribute
While working on his teacher certification and post-
after you’re gone. MPA is a very special place
baccalaureate program at St. Thomas, he substitute taught
and the Legacy Society members will help keep the
at MPA from 1999 to 2001. He moved to Oregon to take
school sustainable over time. Every little bit counts,
his first teaching job and was there for six years. “When
as they say.”
I was moving back here, I saw that John Edmondson, the Quiz Bowl coach, was retiring. I approached Robbie Seum, then-Upper School director, about the position and that’s how I was able to come back.”
The MPA Legacy Society honors families and individuals who have made provisions for Mounds Park Academy in their estate plans that will provide for the school’s future. For more information about planned giving and joining the Legacy Society, please contact Matt Magers, Director of Development, at email@example.com or 651-748-5532.
The individualized focus has never been lost here. The similar feeling in how close you are to your classmates and friends has never been lost despite the increased size. Wade Peterson '87 MPA Legacy Society Member 35
2051 Larpenteur Avenue East Saint Paul, MN 55109 651-777-2555 moundsparkacademy.org
JOIN US FOR SUMMER AT MPA! JUNE 11–AUGUST 10
June 11–15: Panther Camp | Mad Scientist’s Lab June 18–22: Lower and Middle School Enrichment Classes June 18–July 24: Theater Program NEW! June 25–29: Camp Invention NEW! July 9–13: Panther Camp | Camp Contraptions July 16–20: Panther Camp | Adventure Week July 23–27: Panther Camp | Wild World of Animals July 30–August 3: Panther Camp | Wizard School August 6–10: Panther Camp | Summer Celebration
Visit moundsparkacademy.org/summer for more information and to register. We are excited to have you on campus this summer!