April 23, 2020

Dear UMA Families,

    We are now approaching the end of the third week of distance learning and nearing the sixth week since schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As many of you have now heard, Governor Walz has declared that distance learning will continue for the remainder of the year. For us, that means June 10th.

     We want to take a moment to recognize the enormous changes everyone has undertaken to get this far. First and foremost, our students have had to adjust to a form of schooling they never anticipated when enrolling at UMA. UMA prides itself on creating a collaborative work environment that includes authentic learning experiences but the switch to distance learning has pushed us to reconsider how that might look going forward. We want to thank the students for their patience and perseverance as we work to learn new ways of working with them through the remainder of the school year. Secondly, thank you to all of the parents, guardians, and family members for their resolve in working through this difficult time. We understand the switch to distance learning has been challenging and many aspects of it may have been or may be confusing or even frustrating. Thank you for communicating with us and for providing feedback whether through surveys, messages or calls. Our goal is to provide meaningful support along with a meaningful education through these stressful times. A partnership involving open communication with you is key to that. Lastly, we would like to thank our staff who have worked and continue to work on ways to connect with and support students at UMA. 

    We will continue to review, refine, and adjust our distance learning model with the input from all stakeholders. Please be on the lookout for surveys or other opportunities for feedback. We welcome any questions or concerns regarding your student.

-Amy Elverum & Arslan Aziz

Distance Learning Resources
Check out the Distance Learning page on the school's website for resources and tools for students and families.  The school social workers continually update the list of resources compiled to assist and help families impacted by Covid-19.  

If your student is feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed please reach out to:
Another great resource is the Free Meals for Kids mobile App which will help students and families in need find and access free meals at hundreds of schools and other sites across Minnesota. It is the central resource for statewide information about schools, school districts and communities offering meals during school closures.  The free App can be downloaded wherever you get your phone apps.
UMA Board of Directors Elections
Directors serving on the Upper Mississippi Academy (UMA) Board are elected by our community; eligible voters are all parents and legal guardians of current UMA students, all current UMA Board members, and all current employees of UMA.

Elections will take place on 05/04/2020 via online voting from 9:00am – 8:30pm. If you are not able to access email and need to vote via other means, please contact Lesley Ernst at 

The slate of nominees, along with other related information on the UMA Board of Directors can be found on the school's website.
What's Happening in Distance Learning Classes
Friday, April 24 is marked as a Community Day on the school calendar, an opportunity for students to explore and engage in the community outside of the school setting.  So, where can students go on Community Friday when they are at home with distance learning?  How about Alaska, New Mexico, Utah, Hawaii or Florida?

High School students will be able to visit five national parks virtually for their Community Day experience.  Afterward, students can consider going for a walk in their neighborhood (maintain social distancing) or head over to the Mississippi Natural River and Recreation Area national park and look at the nature around them!  Visit the parks virtually yourself from this site.

A recent assignment for 8th grade students in the What Are They Building class was to create an outside message in chalk for their neighbors.  The colorful and cheery submissions below would brighten anyones day.
School Yearbooks
The yearbook club is still working hard on getting a yearbook together to remember this special school year! Yearbooks will be delivered directly to homes (not the school).  Order your yearbook now to get started on your personal pages!
  • Deadline to order: May 25, 2020
  • Delivery to homes: no later than June 29, 2020
  1. Go to
  2. Use code: 1014411217082259
  3. Cost: $21.37 + $2.99 shipping = $24.36
If you have any questions, please contact Denise Goldman at
UMA Gala
For several years, parents have organized a spring fundraising event to benefit special school projects.  Last year the festive UMA Gala generously raised money to purchase new dry erase tables for math classrooms and lab tables and chairs for science classrooms.  This year Gala donations were designated for the purchase of student friendly furniture in our flex spaces and common areas.  While the Gala has been canceled, financially contributions can still be made!  

The CARES Act and socially responsible corporations are providing new ways to extend your philanthropy dollars:

  1. Corporations are doubling their match dollars* - check to see if your employer is one.  When you donate, your employer may match or double match your gift.
  2. Claim a $300 tax deduction option for 2020 - people who do not itemize their taxes can receive up to a $300 deduction for cash donations.
  3. Recovery rebates have arrived - Well deserved and needed rebates are coming to help sustain individuals/households and our economy in this time. This is non-taxable income for 2020 taxes. If in a position to do so, individuals can use some or all of this rebate and get an extra itemization benefit for 2020 as explained in #2.
Donations can be made directly to Upper Mississippi Academy by mailing a check or with a credit card on our PayPal giving donation site.  For more information on giving to UMA visit the school's website.
We think Upper Mississippi Academy is pretty special and unique. If your family thinks so too, please let friends and neighbors know about our hands-on, experiential learning.  We still have open seats in all grades for the 2020-2021 school year.  Soon, our website will feature an informational slideshow and virtual tour for those interested in learning more about us.  Remember, siblings of current UMA students receive 'sibling preference' in next year's enrollment process, so be sure to complete an online 2020-2021 application for them.  

UMA staff will be sending emails and making phones calls to UMA families that have not completed the Intent to Return form for next school year. To avoid that, families should complete the online form as soon as possible. 
Job Openings at UMA
UMA has several open staff positions for the 2020-2021 school year posted on the school's website.  Positions include teachers for special education, high school Language Arts and Biology, middle school Math and Science, and special education paraprofessionals. The paraprofessional position is flexible for part-time or full-time hours with benefits.  Spread the word among friends and family members that might be interested.  The school's website has complete job descriptions and application instructions.
Upcoming Dates
May 1  - No School for students-staff work day
May 4  - No School for students-staff work day
              UMA Board of Directors Election
May 19 - UMA Board Meeting
May 22 - No School for students-staff work day
May 25 - No School - Holiday
June 10 - Last Day of School
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19 Exchange Street East
St. Paul, MN. 55101

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Upper Mississippi Academy · 19 East Exchange Street · St. Paul, MN 55101 · USA

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