MPA Talks Features Garseng Wong ’11

MPA Talks speaker Garseng Wong '11Meet MPA Talks speaker Garseng Wong ’11! Garseng attended MPA from grades 4-12 and went on to study Human Biology at Stanford University. He concentrated on nutrition and chronic disease management and initially thought about working as a primary care physician to continue this interest, but during his time in medical school at NYU, pivoted to psychiatry because the field afforded him more time to get to know patients deeply and personally. He is currently a resident psychiatrist at NYU and hopes to specialize in child-adolescent psychiatry, focusing his work with queer youth and young adults long-term. Get to know more about Garseng before MPA Talks on September 30 with the Q&A below!

What will we learn from your MPA Talk?
In my MPA talk, I would like to compare and contrast mental health as it is portrayed in the media and discussed in the lay public versus our conceptualizations as a profession. I hope to offer a space to discuss and de-stigmatize mental health, and introduce skills and ideas for maintaining mental health as students progress through school and develop as young, independent adults.

What do you believe will be the greatest challenge our current students will face in their lifetimes and how do you see MPA equipping them to face that challenge?
Our society has become extremely polarized to the point where communication between people of opposing ideologies often become shouting matches without any exchange of ideas. This is worsened by the growing sentiment against evidence and the blurring of “truth.” Our students will have to become effective communicators with those who do not share their point of view in order to advance in their lives and careers, especially for those who hope to tackle our nation’s (or world’s) great challenges. I see MPA equipping students for this future by introducing them to big, controversial ideas early and asking them to consider issues from multiple perspectives. Read More


Finding Community Outside Of Our Comfort Zones

Safa Madar working in the Makerspaceby Safa Madar, Class of 2022

being a teaching fellow at breakthrough twin cities (btc) this past summer was one of the most challenging things i have ever done but also the most rewarding. i learned so much about myself and pushed myself way outside of my comfort zone. i made lesson plans, powerpoints, worked alongside seniors in college, and through it all, i realized that i could accomplish anything i put my mind to. breakthrough exposed me to a fantastic community filled kind, passionate, and encouraging people who taught me so much. however, the best part was working with students. i was able to teach a wonderful group of seventh graders who truly changed my perspective on life and allowed me to grow a different kind of appreciation for my teachers.

One of my favorite memories was our seventh-grade west morning meetings. Morning meetings happened every day, where all of the students and teachers gathered for announcements and an energizer. Our energizer games and random debates we would have with the students never failed to make me laugh. Indeed the best way to start the day. Read More


All Hands On Deck

middle school student raising his handby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“all hands on deck,” barked my father when he wanted to get our attention in an emergency. perhaps it was his years in the navy, (although his service was on an airplane, not a ship!) but it was a frequently used phrase in our household growing up. we knew it was an imperative that necessitated that we immediately drop anything we were doing to help out in whatever way was required. as most of us do, we eventually become our parents, and i find myself using that same phrase, especially these days.

“All hands on deck” is one aspect of our COVID-19 reality. With our focus on the health and safety of our community and prioritizing students being on campus as much as possible, there is a fluidity of new and additional roles and responsibilities for faculty and staff. For example, because Lower School students are eating lunch in classrooms and their teachers need their own lunch break, I can add Lower School recess supervisor to my resume. Read More


On Being Kind

Kindergarten student delivering flowers to a teacherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

体育比分网what is the first word that comes to mind that begins with the letter k? ask any mpa kindergarten student and they will quickly tell you, “kindness!” i had barely left my post at the front door monday morning when a kindergartner presented me a bouquet of black-eyed susans from our own school garden. several weeks ago, an mpa parent sent me a handwritten note in the mail thanking me for my leadership after noticing i looked like i was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders during one of our town halls. new sixth grade student, ari r., gushed about how nice everyone is at mpa, especially the teachers, on his first day of school.

Watching the news these days or the postings on social media can be depressing. We are confronted with images and stories of violence, civil unrest, vitriol, and discord. One could believe that our world is bereft of kindness and goodwill in this time of crisis. In reality, we often fail to notice or celebrate the daily occurrences that advance the idea of humanity’s innate goodness. A visit to the site of George Floyd’s murder this summer brought tears to my eyes. The outpouring of kindness overwhelmed me as I observed donations of everyday supplies that filled sidewalks and bottled water and food was offered freely. Read More


Relationships Matter

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

体育比分网yesterday was amazing! after months apart, it was heartwarming to welcome our students to a new school year, in person. excitement and joy were evident throughout the day, from drop off to dismissal. although there were no hugs due to our health and safety measures, i observed an abundance of virtual hugs, pretend high fives, and no-contact fist “bumps.” as someone who worked in an empty building for the last six months, the joy and laughter emanating from our students lifted my spirits and soothed my soul.

in the midst of a pandemic and opening school in a wholly different way, it’s comforting to see that this crisis isn’t driving people apart, it is bringing them together. as a part of my summer reading, i was struck by the timeliness of “humankind: a hopeful history,” a new book by historian rutger bregman. bregman set out to prove “that humans are hardwired for kindness, geared towards cooperative rather than competition, and more inclined to trust one another than distrust one another.”

bregman posits that, at our core, humans are decidedly good. in fact, is the very trait of friendliness that gives us an evolutionary advantage over other species. one of the most fascinating insights from modern anthropology and biology is that human beings have been selected over the history of our evolution to be friendly. throughout history, it was actually the friendliest among us who had the most kids, and so had the best chance of passing on their genes to the next generation.

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Looking Beyond Our Walls

by Emma Cohen, MPA Class of 2021

体育比分网i had the good fortune to work with breakthrough twin cities (btc), a local organization closely partnered with mpa, this summer. breakthrough is a challenging academic enrichment program for highly motivated, under-resourced students, where all the teachers are high school and college students.

i had heard about breakthrough from a few friends who worked as teaching fellows a previous summer and their enthusiasm for the program was what initially encouraged me to apply. as i learned more about the program, i saw connections between what i loved about my own education and a community at breakthrough that emphasizes student’s authenticity, encourages them to drive their own learning in the ways that work for them, and allows them to pursue what they are curious about. in other words, from what i had heard, breakthrough fostered an environment that was appealing to me as a student—the kind of environment my teachers had created for me—so i was thrilled and grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of creating that for other students.

despite being a small school, my teachers at mpa have always forced me to look beyond our walls to the larger community i am a part of. by teaching material that is relevant and emphasizing its applications to today as well as creating a classroom in which student curiosity and passion lead the conversation, my teachers have encouraged me to understand my education as a tool meant to be used for impact and change while empowering me to do so.

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We Are Family

middle school students eating outside togetherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

there is little more joyous than a wedding or the birth or adoption of a child. welcoming new members to our family and the growth of our extended family are certainly worth celebrating. with each new addition, our family is redefined and our sense of self is enhanced. collectively, our values and perspectives are both affirmed and enriched. many people think of mpa as a family and each year we have the joy of welcoming new members to this exceptional community.

i had the pleasure of welcoming our new families and students to mpa during tuesday’s new family orientation and our mpa family has grown to include 108 new students and their families. as i looked at the families on each of the tiles on zoom, i was struck by how the mission of mpa was reflected in the faces of our new families. here are a few fun facts about our new family members:

  • 41 new students will join the Lower School;
  • 38 new students will join the Middle School;
  • 29 new students will join the Upper School;
  • New students come from 45 different zip codes;
  • In addition to English, these students speak 13 different languages at home including Swahili, Somali, Armenian, Spanish, Korean, Hmong, Urdu, Chinese, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Nepali, and Mandarin;
  • 40 of them enrolled without ever having stepped foot on campus;
  • 5 are children of alumni; and
  • 8 children of faculty or staff.

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Looking To Do Right In The World

Dhruv in the MPA study roomsby Dhruv Muppidi, MPA senior

Dhruv spent his summer involved with Breakthrough Twin Cities (BTC), a local organization closely partnered with MPA. Breakthrough is a challenging academic enrichment program for highly motivated, under-resourced students, where all the teachers are high school and college students.

MPA’s close relationship with Breakthrough definitely played a large role in sparking my interest for the program. BTC’s headquarters are located on the MPA Campus, so I have had numerous encounters with the staff and faculty of the program while roaming the halls. I was first exposed to Breakthrough when my neighbor was employed by the organization, working at the BTC’s MPA offices for the entirety of my fifth-grade year. While it was terrifying to have an adult in my close vicinity who would never refrain from spilling my deepest childhood secrets to my peers, I distinctly remember–even six years later–her descriptions of how transformative the teaching fellow experience was for students in high school and undergraduates in college alike. Read More


Characteristics Of A Resilient School And Resilient Children

lower school student arriving on campusby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

with the beginning of the school year less than two weeks away, i find myself increasingly excited to greet our returning students and ever so eager to welcome our outstanding new students. no matter how many years as an educator, the start of a new school year is as exhilarating to me as it is to a new teacher. this year is no different. and yet, the year ahead will be different and will present challenges that we will collectively need to overcome.

As I reflected on a guiding theme for this year, I kept coming back to the importance of resiliency. Perhaps I was influenced by the life and death of U.S. Representative and Civil Rights hero John Lewis several weeks ago. Like many, the depth of my sadness in his passing was buoyed by reflecting on the impact he had over the course of his life. Mr. Lewis suffered life-threatening setbacks and faced hardship that many of us cannot imagine. However, he developed the resiliency necessary to persevere and succeed. Read More


MPA Social Consciousness Club Resources & Recommendations

student-led social consciousness club at mounds park academy has focused on resources for education and personal actions. they are currently reading  by ibram x. kendi, and many of our students have also read “  by bryan stevenson, “  by ta-nehisi coates, and  by michelle alexander. they also recommend to watch the netflix documentary ”  for those interested in understanding the evolution of systemic racism in our country.

体育比分网some organizations that they are recommending support for right now are the , which is minnesota based, , , and .

Students are emphasizing the need to exercise our democratic rights come November. The vote will drive change.  In our immediate community, 63% of eligible voters in the neighborhoods surrounding MPA voted in the last election, 10 points below the state average. This turnout makes is particularly important to mobilize our community to vote, so we are hoping to sponsor a lit drop campaign where we distribute voter registration and vote by mail request materials on doorsteps. MPA students are encouraging anyone who interested in expanding voting rights to do is to ensure their vote is counted and they can participate safely during this pandemic. For students who are not yet eligible to vote, they encourage them to since there is a fear that there will be a shortage.