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.


Wednesday, 15th May 2019

Last week, students from Grade 2 traveled to Siem Reap to visit the Nature Discovery Center of Cambodia (NDC), run by Fauna in Focus, an environmental education and public awareness NGO. The NDC is an interactive nature learning and conservation training facility. Grade 2 students explored the wonders of Cambodia’s biodiversity and learned about plants, animals and natural sciences through hands-on exploration.

Ms. Ryan, Grade 2 teacher, said, “We have been studying a unit on fossils since the beginning of Quarter 4 so it was a perfect opportunity to explore paleontology. In science, we have also been learning about plants, animals, and their habitats. The students learned how we can all make a real difference in protecting their environment here in Cambodia.”

Nisa ’29 said, “I loved exploring the garden as it had so many bees and flowers. The whole place was amazing and we learned so much. They had models of birds and we saw a movie about the endangered Sarus Crane.”

The students were eager to see the center’s numerous learning stations and interactive displays especially the DINO DIG station which was a favorite for some of the budding paleontologists. They loved using tools to dig for ‘dinosaur bones.’ Sovanna ’29 said, “My favorite part of the trip was digging for fossils and putting them together to make a dinosaur. It was a T. rex.”

The INSECT STATION was also a real hit as was the BIRDS OF CAMBODIA display which included information about some of Cambodia’s 600 bird species and local conservation efforts to help ensure their survival. The CONSERVATION ZONE showed some of the threats to Cambodia’s biodiversity and some of the possible solutions.

Sodanet ’29 said, “I enjoyed playing HABITAT CHALLENGE. We learned about where different animals live and what they eat. Then we had to build a habitat using puzzles and placing animals into their correct habitat.”

Grade 2 teacher, Ms. Valentina, said, “I really enjoyed taking the students to the NDC as it made a great impression on them. The station about threats to Cambodian’s wildlife was especially impactful. Some of my students told me they would really like to bring their parents to the center to explain to them the importance of taking care of nature. It shows the students really understand that they can make others aware of the problems Cambodian’s wildlife is facing and that they can make a difference.”

Grade 2 would like to thank everyone at NDC.


Wednesday, 8th May 2019

Visal ’21 has had a fantastic journey so far in high school. Having just turned 14, he was thrilled to learn he earned a composite score of 35 in his recent ACT test. The maximum is 36!

By Grade 6, Visal was reaching mastery in all subjects and, when challenged with advanced content, he proved he could do as well as students much older than him. That’s why, despite being the youngest in his class, Visal skipped a year and enrolled in Grade 8 a year early. As the youngest ever high school student with the highest ever ACT score, Visal deserves congratulations for his hard work and achievements. He shares his reflections here on the great benefits of practice, practice, practice.

As a Grade 10 student, I always used to look for shortcuts in order to achieve my goals. I still do today, although somewhat less than before. However, I realized a while back that the true path to success has no shortcuts. We must put in hard work and effort in order to reach our limits and exceed our expectations. This story is one that I experienced and it taught me to embrace hard work and to have grit in order to succeed. This experience was with my ACT test.

I was told that the ACT is a very important test. It is a test result that many universities will look at when they review my application. I felt that I needed to do well on this test so I prepared for it by practicing as much as possible. Thankfully, all of my teachers were willing to help by providing me with a lot of practice packets. My class had an ACT preparation class with Ms. Fraser-King, our college counselor, and she gave us a handbook full of strategies to succeed along with two packets full of practice questions. Prior to the test, my class had an ACT practice session with Mr. Charles, a college counselor based in Vietnam, who spent an afternoon giving us a lot of helpful tips for the ACT English. He advised us that the ACT is mostly a reading test. I did a lot of ACT English practice with my writing and language arts teacher and ACT reading practice with my literature teacher. Ms. Linton, my honors chemistry teacher, allotted some of her class time in order to allow us to practice for the ACT science section. Mr. Sokcha, my geometry and precalculus teacher, devoted some of his classes to ACT math practice and spent some of his time helping to answer our questions. I personally found old practice tests online and reviewed them. I spent hours on weekends practicing my reading skills and did lots of research on specific subjects to be prepared for the ACT math section.

One very important tool that I used was Albert, a website designed to help prepare for tests. I spent many hours practicing reading and I believed that it had helped me with my reading test. Albert provided me with some background on the complexity of the test questions and the more practice I did, the better prepared I felt. All of that practice made me feel comfortable and confident on test day and added to a good night’s sleep, I was able to ignore everything except the test.

On test day, I arrived as rested as I could be and although I was nervous, my friends helped calm me down. I tried to push everything out of my mind except for all the tips and strategies for the ACT. Once the test had started, I felt increasingly confident about the ACT English section because it was the easiest one, in my opinion. However, on the math section, my self-esteem and confidence began to ebb away slowly. It was way harder than expected and I was beginning to lose my concentration. After a short break, I felt slightly better but was overwhelmed by the reading. It was definitely the hardest one because the texts were complicated. The science test was mostly reading with a few extra data charts and graphs. At least I felt that my science skills were pretty good so I didn’t worry as much. The writing test was better than the reading or science tests because I had practiced persuasive writing in quarter one already. At the end of the test, I was unsure of how I had done, so I could not wait for the results because I wanted to see my score.

Once I saw the test scores, the first thing that came to my mind was that I didn’t do so badly after all. Then, it sunk in that it was a new school record, I had a score of 35! The maximum is 36! My friends crowded around me and congratulated me on such an awesome score. Throughout the day, many teachers came to congratulate me and felt proud of myself. Once I told my parents, they were really happy because it meant that during all that time I spent on my computer, I wasn’t as lost in the world of video games as they thought.

One tip that I would give to others who will take the ACT is to read as much as possible. Also, practice as much as possible so that the test doesn’t take you by surprise. There really is no secret to success. It all depends on how much you are willing to give and how much you want to succeed. Practicing and putting in the hard work in order to attain our goals are the roads to success. Ability doesn’t really matter if you don’t work hard. Also, remember that there are people here who are absolutely willing to help you out. Please, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I would like to thank all of my teachers for giving up their time to help push me to success. Personally, I am relieved and proud. However, I must take the ACT again next year. Beating or maintaining my score will be a very challenging task, but I am happy to say that I have already begun to practice for it.

Thanks to Ms. Fraser-King and teachers for organizing student preparation for the ACT test and congratulations to Visal on your outstanding result.


Wednesday, 1st May 2019

Creating, Capturing and Igniting Hydrogen

Grade 8 students have recently been studying how different chemicals react with one another. As a demonstration, science teacher, Mr. Murray, created hydrogen from zinc and hydrochloric acid, captured it in a balloon and then ignited the hydrogen in front of a class of very excited Grade 8 students.

Rina ’23 explains how her group studied reaction rates, “I have really enjoyed learning more about chemical reactions this quarter. One of the experiments we conducted was to investigate the changes in the reaction rate of different concentrations of sodium thiosulfate added to a hydrochloric acid constant. This reaction produces sulfur which makes the mixture very cloudy.

“Our investigation required us to vary the concentration of sodium thiosulfate when we dissolved it into the constant 5 ml of hydrochloric acid and timed the result. Firstly, we poured 50 ml of sodium thiosulfate into an empty beaker, placed on top of a piece of paper marked with a cross. We used the cross to help us measure the reaction rate. We added 5 ml of hydrochloric acid and used a stopwatch to time how long it took for the solution to react. The sulfur produced makes the solution increasingly opaque which obscures the view of the cross under the beaker. We stopped timing when the cross disappeared completely.

“We repeated the steps over and over, each time decreasing the concentration of sodium thiosulfate and recording the results. At the end of the experiment, we discovered that as the concentration of sodium thiosulfate is decreased in comparison to the hydrochloric acid constant, the reaction rate correspondingly decreased.”

Mr. Murray said, “The chemical reactions topic gives the students an overview into the various possibilities and properties of different chemicals. Knowing how substances behave in certain situations is an incredibly important lesson for future chemistry courses. Understanding how and why chemicals behave the way they do opens up a range of possibilities in industries such engineering and medicine.”


Friday, 5th April 2019

Jay Pritzker Academy staff and students are celebrating Cambodian New Year.


Monday, 1st April 2019

The JPA MUN Club has just returned from Phnom Penh, where they attended the Northbridge International School of Cambodia Model United Nations (NISCMUN) conference, along with schools from around Asia.

Sokh Visal - Best Delegate

Chanminea - Best Delegate

MUN Coordinator, Mr. McBride, said, “NISCMUN was an excellent opportunity for our delegation to build on their experience from attending UNISMUN Hanoi, in February. There are sure signs that our Grade 9 and 10 students are well on their way to becoming accomplished delegates. Chanminea ’22 was awarded best speaker in General Assembly 6 (GA6), and Sokh Visal ’21 was awarded best delegate in the Security Council, which is generally reserved for the strongest delegates from each school. Sovannarath ’22 and Monika ’22 were also mentioned as standout delegates in their assemblies. My own personal standout student was Sotheara ’22 who was our only student attending her first conference. She was an active participant in her room and even made a couple of speeches. The next MUN conference won’t be until November so that leaves plenty of time for MUN Club members to expand their knowledge by reading as much as they can.”

Thank you to Mr. McBride and Mr. Terrazas, and congratulations to the members of the JPA MUN Club for representing yourselves so well.

EllenSopheakroSrey On Sampoas

Coding projects

Monday, 25th March 2019

“Yes!” Alisa, a Grade 10 student, jumped up and did a little dance. It had not been easy to get all those jumper cables wired up correctly, but the LED display connected to her Raspberry Pi computer board had finally lit up and now she could start working on the software part of her project.

This year, Grade 10 coding class is all about hands-on exploring of how computer hardware and software really work together and interact at a deep level. Students set up and configure their own Linux operating systems on a Raspberry Pi computer, they use its input/output interface to control LEDs and add buttons to control their setup. Further basic challenges involve setting up several types of displays and creating software for these with JAVA and Python coding languages.

Srey On and KeopagnapechSeyheing

Technology teacher, Mr. Engelen said, “Coding classes in Grades 7, 8 and 9 have prepared the students in Grade 10 for this interactive course. The goal is to prepare them for the AP Computer Science A course in Grade 11. The benefits of using robotics, Raspberry Pi computers, and electronics such as LEDs give students a deeper understanding of hardware and software.”

Seiha, Phirom and Rachna

At the moment, more complicated projects are underway, some extending the Raspberry Pi’s with Arduinos, a programmable circuit board. Seyheing ’21 is making a weather station using an add-on sensor array mounted to the Raspberry Pi, called a SenseHat board. A SenseHat board has inbuilt primary sensors to measure temperature, humidity and pressure and the ability to output data to software.

Rachna ’21, Sothea ’21 and Phirom ’21 are working on a face recognition system using a Raspberry Pi and its camera. Their project proposal states: ‘We will have a Raspberry Pi attached to a camera module. The camera detects faces and can match them with the names of people that are in our database. We can add a motor and a locking mechanism that will only unlock doors for the faces that it recognizes. There are many other projects, like an FM broadcast experiment by Keopagnapech ’21 and Srey On ’21.

Strange noises continually emanate from the far end of the classroom. This is where the World Robotics Olympiad mat is situated. Students are building and programming Lego Mindstorms robots to complete missions set for the next World Robotics Olympiad. They need to play sounds, sense colors, lift and maneuver items and have the robot make the correct decisions depending on the layout of the mat.

Students work on their own projects but share techniques and ideas, frequently coming together to evaluate each other’s progress. Each week they keep a journal of their work, questions and thoughts about what they have done or seen.

Rachna ’20 recently wrote in his reflective journal, “We got together with other groups and observed their accomplishments. We saw the many different types of displays used and how they were coded. The use of line segments was exciting. It was how it was coded that I found most interesting. The Python code used hexadecimal numbers to address the different parts of the display. It is similar to code I have seen previously. Many strings of these codes were put together to manually display a simple letter like “A” on the display. Because of this, I’ve been trying to make similar custom fonts on my own LCD display.”

Kimheat ’20 said, “Coding class is so rewarding. We are challenged to work on our own ideas and to take them from the virtual world into the physical world. It is so exciting.”

Keep up the good work Grade 10 and good luck with computer science next year.