Virtual Freethinker Fridays

Freethinker Friday with MPA faculty, staff, parents, and students欧洲杯哪里投注Please join us every Friday on or  for live, casual conversations about topics that matter with a variety of MPA community members.

  • June 19 Freethinker Friday: Middle School Stuff
  • June 25 Freethinker Friday: Setting The Foundation In Lower School
  • July 10 Freethinker Friday: Racial Justice and Inclusion
  • July 17 Freethinker Friday: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Through Virtual Learning
  • July 24 Freethinker Friday: Balancing Academics, Arts & Athletics
  • July 31 Freethinker Friday: Rigor With Purpose
  • August 7 Freethinker Friday: The ROI Of A Private School Education
  • August 14 Freethinker Friday: Design Thinking In A PreK-12 Makerspace
  • August 21 Freethinker Friday: Making Relocation Work

No RSVP is necessary. We look forward to seeing you live!


Building A Better Future

pairing assembly activities in the libraryby Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

“Together, we are building a better future. By cultivating critical thinking, creative inquiry, and social responsibility, we inspire and empower our children to improve an ever-changing and sometimes, challenging world. We do that though a rigorous, yet joyful, education delivered by an exceptional faculty dedicated to fostering caring relationships with their students.”

Those were my words in my first Panther Post message of the 2019-20 school year, on August 29. As construction finished on our new Family Commons and Martin Lenz Harrison Library, I seized upon the metaphor of building as a theme for the school year, challenging ourselves to provide the vision, blueprints, tools, and materials our students need to realize our mission, fulfill their potential, and positively impact our world. I could never have imagined just how prophetic the theme would turn out to be.

The world is, indeed, ever-changing and challenging and our lived reality this spring and early summer has made that abundantly clear to all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the strengths and flaws of ourselves, our institutions, and our society. And yet, our students emerge stronger, with the resiliency, flexibility, and independence that might not have otherwise been cultivated if not for the pandemic. Our exceptional faculty were able to pivot quickly while never losing hold of the caring relationships they have with students. Families have been supportive and understanding as difficult decisions have been made to keep our community safe.

The raw, visceral murder of George Floyd and ensuing unrest and violence has laid bare the fissures of society many gloss over or choose to ignore. Yet through critical thinking, creative inquiry, and honest conversation, our young people hold the promise of change where our generation, and generations before us, have failed. The MPA curriculum, grounded in character education and the humanities, in concert with the sciences, provide the tools and materials necessary to build a better future, to “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.” Indeed, building a better future requires our students to dream big and do right.

Thank you for entrusting your children to MPA—I am grateful for your partnership this school year. We are united in our shared belief that education is fundamentally an act of hope and that by investing in our children, we are indeed building a better future. I am confident that the strength of our community will carry us forward to a new day. Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to coming together in August.

PS: Please know you will hear from me on a regular basis this summer, as I share more information about plans for the fall. Our next communication is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23. Do not hesitate to reach out to your division director as questions arise!


Turn To The Voices Of Our Students

欧洲杯哪里投注Dear MPA Community,

In yesterday’s Panther Post欧洲杯哪里投注, I wrote about the Class of 2020 and their incredible compassion and commitment to raise their voices and use their gifts to “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.” Those words continued to race through my mind, as I awoke in a city that is filled with pain and violence. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing events this week, make me feel angry, disheartened, and disillusioned. I’m sure you feel similarly this morning.

When I feel hopeless and powerless, I turn to our students for strength and inspiration. Today is no exception. The voices of our students speak wisdom amidst the confusion, bring hope amidst the frustration, ensure love amidst the grief, and call for justice amidst the anger.

MPA, and schools in general, are poised to help facilitate conversations, present learning opportunities, and provide safe places for students to wrestle with difficult topics. For instance, yesterday, more than 60 Upper School students and faculty joined together for a virtual conversation on the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. This conversation, led by the Social Consciousness and Racial Justice and Equity student organizations, centered around challenging and thought-provoking questions about police brutality, overt vs. covert racism, systemic oppression and the role of media in covering this week’s events.

Junior Salmah Elmasry and senior Nasri Maktal, two of the leaders of these student organizations, created a welcoming space for open discussion, honest reflection, listening, and support. Students shared their personal experiences with police brutality, engaged in small group discussions on best practices for supporting disenfranchised communities, and acknowledged their own biases and privilege.

Reflecting on that gathering as well as discussions in class yesterday, Salmah shared, “We are in a particular position that requires us to be active and not to be reluctant. To advocate against these issues publicly. If we display any reluctance, we will only continue with the status quo and allow all of these issues to perpetuate.”

At MPA, we embrace our diversity and celebrate equity and inclusivity. We see ourselves as a family, and I am frustrated that we are not together in person today. Nonetheless, I want to reassure all of our students that they are loved, that their voices matter, and that there is promise for a more just future.

“I am really proud to be in a community of outspoken individuals who have the willingness to listen, discuss, and reflect collectively,” Salmah shared. “That just gives me a little bit of hope.”

欧洲杯哪里投注Salmah, we have great faith in you, your fellow MPA students, and in all young people. Now, more than ever, our cities, nation, and world need you—actively engaged, educated, and empowered citizens who are committed to critical progress.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bill Hudson
Head of School

Click here to read an important message from Dr. Jules Nolan about talking to your children about violence and unrest. 

 


What The Class Of 2020 Has Given Our Community

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I have a number of books on my shelf, waiting to be read. I’ve started a few of them, including “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World” by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and “Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan.” What do these two books in particular have in common? They remind me of our wonderful Class of 2020 who will graduate in just over a week. Before jumping to the conclusion that this class are a group of lonely weirdos, let me explain.

欧洲杯哪里投注According to author Olga Khazan, everyone, in some way or another, is a little weird. That’s a good thing because we all have different talents and ideas to contribute, and a perspective that is all our own. Khazan goes on to say that to make the most of our weirdness, it’s important to recognize what makes us special, examine how it functions in our lives, and consider how to use it to our advantage. The Class of 2020 has long impressed me with their willingness to embrace their own uniqueness, but also appreciate and accept the individuality of others.

欧洲杯哪里投注Some may call the Class of 2020 “weird,” but they are anything but. They wield their distinctiveness as a superpower and are not shy to place it in service of others. For example, in her senior speech, Priya Manda poignantly shared her experience of growing up struggling for acceptance and learning to harness her unique religious and ethnic identity to improve society. “I come from a family who has always fought for what they believe in, and this, combined with the passion of my peers at MPA, inspired my interest in social advocacy. I learned how to use my naturally, talkative personality to find my voice on issues I had taught myself to be silent on. I worked to create safe spaces for kids who, like me, didn’t have any.”

欧洲杯哪里投注Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy writes from the perspective of a doctor, bringing to light the reality that loneliness can be as harmful to our health as smoking. Humans, by nature, have a vital need for social connection. It was Dr. John Cacioppo who developed a theory of loneliness rooted in the observation that humans have survived as a species not because of physical advantages but because of the ability to communicate and work together in groups.

Our seniors like to laugh together, hug one another, cheer for one another, and share with one another. It is not unusual to find them piled into tight groups in the Hart Commons, lamenting a difficult Calc or Physics test, and then laughing together about their struggles. In fact, the class invented the term “cuddle puddle” to explain this phenomenon. Their commitment to community is not reserved solely for themselves. They have worked hard to include underclassmen in school events and in everyday conversations. They have not established themselves as ‘seniors’ by ‘ruling,’ but by ‘including’ and have been ever the more successful for it.

欧洲杯哪里投注How ironic that this class who collectively valued community and connectedness are unable to end their MPA career together as a school community. Worried that they did not have an opportunity to say goodbye, they wrote a letter to their classmates to urge them to strive to “Dream Big and Do Right”: “The Class of 2020 worked hard, set goals, and achieved them. However, we recognized how our future was not a competition with each other. We learned our success was dictated by us. We learned we were more successful collaborating and supporting each other than competing.”

欧洲杯哪里投注I was particularly moved by the collection of six-word memoirs written by the senior class. They speak a truth so much more than I could ever capture:

Saved my life, gave me life. Lilly Ramalingham
Expected a school, found a home. Galen Juliusson
Everything, friends, home, love. It’s everything. Emma Finch
欧洲杯哪里投注 New Kid, Strange kid, Loved kid. Quincy Lewis

欧洲杯哪里投注I am grateful for the many gifts the senior class have given our community and I look forward with great confidence and in anticipation of how these gifts will impact our world in the years ahead. There is no doubt in my mind that these amazing incredible young people will indeed “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.”


Thanking Our Impactful Retirees

by Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

欧洲杯哪里投注Many years ago I had my first opportunity to speak at a national conference. The meeting was held in Baltimore and I found out that my favorite high school teacher, Br. Jim, lived nearby and was going to be in attendance. I was able to track down his email address and wrote to him, sharing that he was my favorite teacher and the reason I decided to become a teacher. I also asked if he would like to get together for lunch while I was in town. Br. Jim was principal of my high school and had stepped into teaching a ninth grade class at the last minute. He was an amazing storyteller had a way of teaching that made each student feel that he was talking directly and personally to them. Br. Jim was gentle, kind, and brilliant, too. He never talked down to us and found ways to bring all of us along, inspiring us to higher levels of critical thinking. After that year, he moved on to a new job and a new city yet I never forgot him.

欧洲杯哪里投注Br. Jim accepted my invitation and we met for lunch. As he entered the restaurant, it was clear he didn’t know who I was. Sheepishly, he admitted as much and said he had been trying for weeks to remember me, even pulling out an old yearbook to jog his memory. He said he was embarrassed and began to apologize profusely. I stopped him and that I was not at all offended. To me, what was important was not that he would remember me—it was that I remembered him. He had hundreds if not thousands of students over his career. But for me, there was only one Br. Jim.

All teachers aspire to having such an impact on our students. Of course, teachers strive to be their best, to employ the very best pedagogy, techniques and strategies, and excel in their respective academic area. However, and more importantly, they strive to touch the hearts of their students. Teaching as a career is much more than a job or a transaction between employer and employee. It is transformational. I can safely say that our retirees this year have been transformational in the lives of their students and in the history of the school. Read More


Here’s Where We’re Going

lower school student arriving at mpaby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” -Yogi Berra

欧洲杯哪里投注With more frequency as of late, I’ve been asked: What does the future hold for the next school year? With so much uncertainty about the pandemic, it is difficult to give a clear answer. However, while there is much we don’t know, I can say that MPA will be prepared for any eventuality. I think what humorist and baseball great Yogi Berra meant in the quote above was that without a plan, you are never going to make progress. As we look to next year, I want to assure you that we indeed have a plan.

Uncertainty about the future can make planning feel daunting. However, envisioning various possibilities can help us prepare for the worst—and best—scenarios and everything in-between. Our board of trustees, working together with the administrative team, has been actively engaged in scenario planning considering the macroeconomic indicators and trends in order to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities. We are also preparing a number of contingency plans for the start of the new school year that first and foremost prioritizes the health and safety of our community. We know that we must always be nimble, agile, and communicate clearly. Read More


Together We Will Make It To The Finish Line

middle school students in the science labby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

欧洲杯哪里投注One of the ways I am navigating this challenging crisis has been to start running again. Some of you may know that I took a bad fall while on a run two and a half years ago and broke bones in both my ankle and my foot. It’s been a long road to recovery as I’ve dealt with both physical and mental trauma. For some time, I have been mentally preparing myself to start running again but until recently, I lacked the resolve. Several weeks ago, after a particularly long day, I reached a breaking point. So I ran. I needed to reassure myself that I can overcome anything, that pain does indeed result in gain, that this is hard but I can push myself through it by the strength of my resolve, and that it’s all worth it on the other side.

You have most likely heard me say that we are in marathon, not a sprint. The irony of my fall was that I had just recently achieved a personal milestone, completing the ten-mile run of the Twin Cities Marathon. Never having been a runner before, I slowly worked my way toward that ultimate goal. In a marathon, there are mile markers and in my training runs, there are landmarks to measure progress. A friend reminded me recently that we have no such guideposts at the moment; we are engaged in an endurance event without mile markers, working toward a finish line that may not even be visible. Read More


Now, Next, And Beyond At MPA

first grade class science projectby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

My thinking these days on navigating this crisis has been informed by one of my favorite bloggers, Pascal Finette. In his recent post, he wrote about a global consulting firm that looks at the world in three time dimensions: Now, Next and Beyond. The world, observes Finette, has changed dramatically. “In the world BC (Before COVID-19) Next was one to two years out, and the Beyond was somewhere past the five-year mark. Today, Now and Next are happening in parallel and at the same time, while Beyond is AC (After COVID-19).” AC, wrote Pascal, “requires a very different view of the world and leaders to show up in very different ways.” I would like to use this framework to share with you how MPA is successfully navigating this crisis and planning for the future.

Now
欧洲杯哪里投注 During the last six weeks, we’ve made an incredible shift to online learning, ensuring the continuity of learning for our children. We have done so while holding fast to our whole child philosophy and our commitment to rigor with purpose. As I said in the beginning, “first different, then better.” Modeling the resiliency we inspire in our students, we have been engaged in an ongoing process of designing, implementing, assessing, and adapting teaching and learning to meet the needs of our students in our new reality, even as the crisis itself evolves.

欧洲杯哪里投注Plans are in place and unfolding to ensure success in the continuity of operations, admission and enrollment, and the fiscal health of the school. I am confident that we will weather the storm.

  • Continuity of Operations: In order to sustain the quality of the education you’ve come to expect, we must continue to support our teachers, cover all of our non-teaching expenses, and invest in innovative ways to deliver our curriculum for our students. In fact, the school has invested in additional operating expenses associated with adopting and implementing online learning tools. In addition, we have a number fixed costs. For instance, even though we are not at school, we still have costs to maintain the building, pay utilities, mow the grass, etc.
  • Enrollment: BC (Before COVID-19) recruitment and admissions were strong and exceeding expectations. I am very happy to share that both new enrollments and re-enrollments continue to be strong today. New enrollments are trending significantly higher than at the same time last year, and re-enrollment is on pace. Even in the face of uncertainty, families are seeing clearly the value of MPA—perhaps in contrast to how other schools are managing remote learning. Please continue to share MPA in your networks.
  • Financial Health: Through managing expenses and carefully monitoring cash flow, we are positioned well to end the fiscal year. Philanthropic giving has been very strong BC and our reimagined Spring Auction was a phenomenal success. To assist families and employees who are experiencing financial difficulties, a has been created.
  • Employees: We will continue to compensate all of our dedicated and hard-working faculty and staff through the end of the school year. Wherever possible, staff have been reassigned to support the overall operations of the school. We are making every effort to honor the everyday commitment they make and to ensure their continued employment during these uncertain economic times. We must retain our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and staff as we look forward to next year.
  • Lunch and Busing: One of the things we keep hearing from MPA families is their gratitude and appreciation for how MPA teachers and staff have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have asked how they can give back and support the school during this difficult time. We will have more ideas for you soon, but one easy way for your family to consider is donating back your hot lunch and transportation costs.

Read More


Virtual Learning Extended And Refined

student making US map on laptopby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

With the health and safety of all members of our community in mind, and in keeping with our commitment to follow the recommendation of the Governor and public health officials, I can now confirm that MPA will remain in virtual school through the end of the school year. This wasn’t an easy decision, as you might imagine. However, it is clear that it is not possible to return to on-campus school while maintaining the necessary social distancing and safety standards. I believe MPA is positioned to successfully navigate this crisis and emerge better and stronger than before. The strength of our community, the durable relationships we enjoy, our dedicated and exceptional faculty and staff, and our history, mission, and values will power us through what lies ahead.

Virtual School
As I said in the beginning, “first different, then better.” Modeling the resiliency we inspire in our students, we have been engaged in an ongoing process of designing, implementing, assessing, and adapting teaching and learning to meet the needs of our students. As we look ahead at the next eight weeks, modifications and refinements are necessary. The administration and faculty have taken to heart the advice of a seasoned head of school from New York City who successfully led his school in the aftermath of 9/11. He said that the ability to adapt is more important than the plan itself. I am so proud of our teachers for continuing to grow and evolve in this new environment. Read More


Keep Your Eye On The Ball And Keep Your Head Up

a first grader working on a virtual learning projectby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

If you’ve coached or watched seven-year-olds play soccer, you know that there are essentially two fundamental skills: keep your eye on the ball and keep your head up. Those were basically the same two directives I had in mind when I coached middle school soccer and high school basketball. At first, the two seem to be at odds with one another. Since the ball is on the ground, how can you keep your head up? Yet in order to be successful, you have to be able to do both: to see the ball right in front of you and see the field in order to anticipate where the ball might go next.

Education around the world has changed dramatically in the past month and many young people are hurting because of that—academically, socially, and emotionally. Sadly, a recent national survey found that 95% of 13- to 17-year-olds have had their classes canceled and 41% have had no school at all. I have friends at other schools who are very good teachers and exceptional human beings that are frustrated with their inability to teach. Many students find themselves completing packets that review concepts that have already been taught at the expense of new learning. The inadequacies and injustices in the education system of the United States have become more pronounced in the age of COVID-19. Equity and access present challenges that are proving hard to overcome. Read More