Schools and Academies

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Mount St. Mary Academy

Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County), a Catholic school established in 1851, is Arkansas’s oldest educational institution still teaching today. The academy is the state’s only all-girl secondary school. Today, Mount St. Mary educates about 550 high school students. In late 1850, Bishop Andrew Byrne went to Ireland in search of an order of sisters to promote Catholic education in Arkansas. Upon contacting the Sisters of Mercy, Byrne was granted twelve members of the order. The women arrived in Little Rock on February 5, 1851, a date now known as “Founders Day.” The sisters lived in Byrne’s house on 2nd Street and then in a meeting house on Markham Street. Their “official” convent at 6th and Louisiana streets …

Mountain Mission Schools

The term “mountain mission school” refers to a specific kind of private school or college of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most often focusing on secondary education for white children in the highland South, mountain mission schools were one of several kinds of mission schools that developed from the efforts of northern religious denominations to found schools for the children of former slaves during and after the Civil War. At least seven different denominations established and maintained mountain mission schools in Arkansas. They varied widely in academic, religious, and cultural emphasis and were differentiated from other denominational schools either by their conscious designation as “mountain mission” schools or by their motives and rhetoric suggesting cultural assumptions and goals …