MSM student, teacher win prestigious Stephens Award

Sydney England ’22 and CAPT Scott Pursley are among the seven Little Rock high school seniors and six teachers who have been named recipients of the 2022 Stephens Award by The City Education Trust in honor of their outstanding achievements. This year’s program provided $5,000 scholarships to the students and $5,800 cash awards to selected instructors. Recipients were honored during a ceremony and reception on Monday, April 18, at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce AT&T Auditorium.


Sydney was named a Finalist in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Competition in February. She is currently enrolled in six AP courses at MSM and is ranked third in her class. Among her many accomplishments, she is co-captain of the varsity volleyball team, vice president of the Spanish Club, and a three-year member of Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Quiz Bowl, and the Mountie Messengers student ambassador program. Last year Sydney served on the team of students, faculty, and staff that drafted the school’s new Honor Code, and she now serves as a representative on the inaugural Honor Council.


“I was very excited to hear I won a Stephens Award,” Sydney said of her most recent honor. “My dad received the award when he was in high school, so it was cool to feel like I was keeping with tradition.”


CAPT Pursley is in his first year of teaching at Mount St. Mary Academy, having previously taught at eStem Public Charter High School for five years. He currently teaches science courses, including AP Physics, AP Chemistry, and Honors Chemistry. Additionally, he has helped reinstate and energize the school’s Robotics Club, which had been inactive for several years.


Prior to entering the teaching profession, CAPT Pursley served as a founding and principal partner in a business strategy consulting firm, working with clients such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Georgia-Pacific. Having graduated from the United States Naval Academy, he also served many years and numerous roles in the U.S. Navy.


“I was surprised, then pleased, and finally humbled after I heard the news,” CAPT Pursley said of his reaction to receiving this year’s Stephens Award. “I am grateful that I have a small role in Mount St. Mary Academy’s excellent learning community.”


Congratulations, Sydney and CAPT Pursley!


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.