Jay Pritzker Academy is dedicated to educating academically talented and motivated students from families in rural Cambodia, to maximize their potential and their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families and their country

Jay Pritzker Academy (JPA) is a Pre-K - 13 co-ed day school, located approximately 16 kms (10 miles) from Siem Reap, Cambodia. JPA provides a challenging college-preparatory curriculum taught by inspired and inspiring teachers. Our English-medium curriculum is based on the successful and highly regarded Providence St. Mel approach to research based instruction. Currently, 462 girls and boys from surrounding villages attend JPA. We have a faculty of over 80 ex-pat and Cambodian teachers and aides delivering our English medium and Cambodian National curricula.


Monday, 21st January 2019

It’s that exciting time of the year when colleges are awarding their ‘early decision’ acceptance scholarships. Three of our class of 2019 students have just learned of their acceptance to their preferred colleges. While the students concerned are thrilled, their peers applying for ‘regular decision’ are now more optimistic about the news they will receive this spring. We congratulate Rithy, Somphors and Sokhoeun who share their reflections below.

Image: https://vinoly.comRithy ’19 awarded a scholarship to NYU Abu Dhabi

Rithy ’19 has been awarded a scholarship to NYU Abu Dhabi, UAE. She said, “It's so hard to describe how I feel about receiving a scholarship and being accepted to NYUAD as I have felt every kind of emotion. At first, I was in shock. Then, gradually I saw the new possibilities that my future may hold. I began to focus on the exciting opportunities that will arise from being at such a great university. I will make sure that I continue to make the most of each one as they come along. Currently, I am planning to major in applied mathematics in one of the sciences or a human science subject.”

Somphors ’19 awarded a scholarship to Kenyon College USAImage: https://www.kenyon.edu

Somphors ’19, who earned a scholarship to Kenyon College, Ohio, USA, said, “It is challenging to describe my feelings when I found out that I was offered a scholarship and accepted to college. I was actually on a plane when the letters were sent. So, what began as one of the worst plane rides, frustratedly waiting for news, became the best plane ride of my life when I checked my phone, using the onboard wifi, and saw that I had been accepted. I was quickly flooded with emotions, and I shed tears of joy; I looked up into the air, took a deep breath and thought, wow!, what a beautiful world. I haven’t finally decided on my major yet. Currently, I’m heading in the direction of pre-law, political science or international relations.”

Image: https://journalstar.com/Sokhoeun ’19 awarded a scholarship to Union College USA

Sokhoeun ’19 has been given a scholarship to Union College, New York, USA. He said, “I was elated the moment I saw that I had received a scholarship and acceptance to Union College. I was speechless. I kept reading and re-reading the acceptance letter to make sure it was not a mistake. I was at school in the college and careers office talking to teachers about my application when I found out, so I had to keep it together. However, If I had been at home, I would’ve been jumping and screaming all over the place. I am jubilant to know that I will be continuing my education abroad. It motivates me to keep striving, and I feel that my educational journey is looking ever more positive. I hope to major in mathematics and minor in economics.”

All three students expressed their gratitude for all at JPA for the opportunities and support they have received throughout their education. Thank you to all of the teachers and staff who have worked with these talented students over their entire school careers.

Opening of New Preschool Wing

Wednesday, 16th January 2019

We recently celebrated the opening of our new preschool wing welcoming over 160 two and three year old children to our beautiful, purpose-built facilities. Parents and children delighted at the bright, colorful classrooms, the large playground and the green gardens. There were inevitably a few tears as children said goodbye to parents, perhaps for the first time in their lives, but they quickly joined the fun activities and started to make friends.

Each spacious classroom has a large outside covered space for art and craft projects, a reading corner and a large space for physical movement. There are some very cute, size-appropriate bathroom facilities. By day 2, the children were already settled into their new routines and enjoying singing, dancing, listening to stories and playing together. The program aims to provide nutrition and hygiene as well as giving all the happy preschoolers the best possible start to their education.

Thanks to all the teachers, aides and parents who worked hard to make the first week a great success.


Monday, 17th December 2018

Vichheka and Nga Taking RegistrationSrey On, Voleak, Keopagnapech


Once again, the World Vets organization held their annual Veterinary Field Project for pets in Siem Reap where a skilled team of veterinarians and technicians executed a community-wide spay/neuter and microchipping campaign.

This year, twelve students from Grade 10, 11 and 12 volunteered their time to help. Over the course of the three-day project, World Vets spayed/neutered 385 animals, performed check-ups on 389 animals as well as microchipping and administering rabies vaccines to 460 animals. Each year, our students act as translators and assistants helping the vets to complete their work efficiently. This year project coordinator, Jen Cartmill, said, “The volunteer students from JPA rocked all weekend. Their language skills were particularly useful. Chanmolis ’19 was indispensable, a real standout.”

Voleak ’19 said, “Working with the local community was a good experience and I was glad to be able to help the animals. My job was to weigh the dogs so the vets could prepare the correct amount of anesthetic for each animal. I also tracked the order of the operations and helped translate for the owners so that they understood what was happening to their pets.”

Yorng Chhieng ’20 added, “The first day, Vanny ’20 and I were asked to prepare the syringes for the rabies vaccinations. A vet trained us to prepare and dispose of the syringes safely. Once the syringes were used, we separated the needles from the body and disposed of them safely in separate containers.”

“On the second day, Pagnapech ’21 and I took charge of registering owners and their pets, with some owners bringing up to 12 animals. We registered over 100 animals prioritizing sick animals and strays from the surrounding pagodas. The weekend was enjoyable and ran very smoothly.”

Well done to all the JPA volunteers and many thanks to World Vets.


Monday, 10th December 2018

Training for the RaceWarming Up


Last weekend the JPA Running Club once again competed in the annual Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Students ran with runners from all over the world, competing in 10 km and 21 km races. The first JPA runner to complete the 21 km race was, Sothea ’21 while our first 10 km runner over the line was Khemara ’22.


Running Club lead teacher, Mr. Kahan, said, “Students trained three times a week. They maintained a running log and participated in timed runs to track their progress and improve their total running time.”


Sothea ’21, the fastest JPA student in the 21km race, said, “I was only jogging for the first 3 kilometers, conserving my energy. When a man overtook me, I was impressed at how swiftly he ran. I thought that he was going to be the winner of the entire race, so I decided to follow him, but he was too fast. Then my muscles began to hurt, so I realized that I needed to slow down. “Halfway through the race I was fatigued and I worried that I wouldn’t finish the race. I told myself to push forward, but my body failed me. I made a great effort to run, ignoring my pain and fatigue. As I neared the finish line, the JPA supporters cheered and I tried to run fast during the last five-hundred meters, yet it felt like I was running slowly. I made it and spent the rest of the day eating to recover.”

Srey TouchSomakara

Alisa ’21, the fastest JPA girl in the 10km race, said, “This was my third Angkor Wat Half Marathon. Last year I finished the 10km race in 1 hour and 15 minutes, so this year during running club training I set myself a goal of 1 hour and 5 minutes. I was so happy to run under 1 hour and 2 minutes. The training that I did really helped me throughout my run. This was such an exciting event, and I plan to train even harder so I can beat my personal best time next year.”

Khemara ’22, the fastest JPA boy in the 10km race, said, “This was my fourth Angkor Wat Half Marathon. My focus this year was not beating last year’s time but to run for the entire race without stopping. “At the start I felt energetic, ready to dash off as soon as the clock started. However, being in the middle of the huge crowd of competitors meant that I had to walk for about three minutes before I could actually start running. Although I felt that I was going quickly, there were still many runners ahead of me and around me, which made it challenging to run at my own pace. One of the lessons I have learned is to go at my own pace and not be influenced by the pace of others. After a kilometer, gaps slowly began to open up around me so I could keep my focus on my own speed. I wanted to run each kilometer in around 5 minutes, and I reached the halfway point in about twenty-seven minutes. As I had held myself back and saved energy, I ran much faster in the last half and was pleased with my time.”

Thanks to Mr. Kahan, teachers and staff for organizing the JPA Running Club throughout the year. Congratulations to all the runners.

Srey OnPhiromCelebratingToklaLisa


Monday, 3rd December 2018

Ms. McGowan draws on her love of math, logic and teaching to inspire her students. She shares her story below.

I knew that I wanted to be a teacher in 6th grade. I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of really great teachers in my life. I developed close connections with most of them, and they inspired me to pursue things that I was interested in. At the time, what I was interested in was English; I used all of my free time for writing – poems, short stories, plays. The dream was to teach English and continue writing in my free time.

Fast forward to grades 11 and 12, two years that truly changed my world. In grade 11, I took Physics, and it was the single greatest class of my life. In grade 12, I took two AP English classes, and that taught me that, though I enjoyed the subject, I didn’t want teaching it to be my life’s work. So, though I didn’t waver from teaching, I did shift subjects, from English to Science.

I went to university at The University of Maine, about an hour away from where my parents lived at the time. I studied secondary education with a focus in physical science. Even before I started university, I knew that I wanted to teach outside of the United States, and so, leading up to my final year, I applied for internships that would allow me to complete my teaching practicum abroad which is how I found myself teaching physics, chemistry, and biology for a couple of months in Shanghai, China.

The world opened up for me after that experience. Soon after graduation, I interviewed for a job in the Philippines, where I spent a year teaching math. After a roller-coaster of a year, I knew that I needed to leave the school. However, I didn’t want to go far – South-East Asia had grown on me, and I wasn’t done with the region. So I began my research. Jay Pritzker Academy is a unique school, and it stuck out instantly from most of the other schools that I was looking at. I made a choice, and over four years later, I’m still happy with that choice.

Beyond the amazing resources and facilities that JPA offers, what makes the school truly special is the students. The students made transitioning to JPA easy – I’ve never entered a class and encountered students that are so willing and eager to learn. They’ve allowed me to explore and experiment with my teaching style over the years because, no matter what, they’re willing to try every challenge I give them and give honest feedback in return. Seeing how determined the students are in the classes I have had with them, it comes as no surprise to see the success that many of JPA students, past and present, have achieved over the years.

I love order and logic. I love being faced with a problem and having to think my way through it in an organized, rational manner. I love math, and I love applied mathematics (physics, chemistry, etc.). It’s so satisfying to be able to explain phenomena in the world around me using some kind of mathematical or scientific principle.

I went into teaching rather than research or engineering for the human element. I enjoy working with students and sharing something that I love with them. Having taught at JPA for over four years now, I’ve been able to see students change and grow over time. It’s so exciting to see young people grow into their potential, figure out what is important to them, and flesh out their own identity in this world. Just because a person becomes an adult doesn’t mean they know everything about themselves. It doesn’t mean that they always know exactly what they want or need. However, thinking about their strengths and their interests can lead them to somewhere they hadn’t considered. Though thoughts of teaching have been a constant throughout most of my life, it wasn’t until my early twenties that I started teaching math, started teaching computer science, and realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Thanks to Ms. McGowan for sharing your story and for the amazing work you do.