Two Mount St. Mary teachers win Stephens Award

Two Mount St. Mary Academy faculty members have been named recipients of the 2020 Stephens Award by The City Education Trust. Social studies teacher Rachel McLemore and Spanish teacher Ruth Pineda are two of just seven high school teachers in Little Rock selected to receive a $5,700 cash award recognizing their outstanding and inspirational teaching. Over the past five years, a total of nine MSM faculty have earned this prestigious honor.


Ms. McLemore is in her third year of teaching at Mount St. Mary Academy. She currently teaches AP United States History, AP Comparative Government and Politics, and American History. She sponsors Model United Nations and Quiz Bowl in addition to coaching the Belles’ cross country team.


In the essay that accompanied her nomination, Ms. McLemore shared the following words of advice for new teachers: “Know your stuff. Believe in your students’ capacity for growth. Express genuine interest in each student’s success. Strive for progress, not perfection. … By making ‘Progress, not perfection’ our mantra, we can pass on lessons that go beyond the classroom. As teachers, we can allow students room to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow.”


Sra. Pineda has been a faculty member at Mount St. Mary Academy for 14 years. She teaches all Spanish classes at the school, including Honors Spanish and AP Spanish Language and Culture, and sponsors the school’s Spanish Club.


Sra. Pineda’s essay, also providing advice to new teachers, included the following sentiments: “You need to grasp each student’s unique method of learning so you can reach and impact them all. This requires a special connection between student and teacher. In my classroom, I believe in respecting, understanding, and being open with my students. This allows them to be more comfortable with me, and in return they provide me with the same respect, understanding, and openness.”


Congratulations to all of this year’s Stephens Award winners for this incredible achievement!


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.