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, 28th May 2018

It’s that time of year when we bid farewell to our newest alumni. This year’s graduates, the class of 2018, were given a grand send-off as they prepare to go to university this fall.

The Graduation ceremony was preceded by the Senior Walk as the whole school lined the route of the procession through the school to cheer and celebrate the senior class.

The day of the graduation saw parents and family members, teachers and guests proudly watch as the class of 2018 received their diplomas.

In the evening, the Graduation Prom was a grand affair in a ballroom of a 5-star hotel. The class of 2018 dressed in their finest and teachers and graduates all had a fantastic time dancing to the rhythm of Cambojam, a local band who played a mixture of songs in English and some of the fantastic hits of Cambodia’s golden era of music so treasured by Cambodians.

Exhausted, the graduates got on the bus home declaring that they’d had the best time of their lives. We wish the best for the class of 2018 who now join our growing ranks of alumni whose potential is huge.

Thanks to event coordinator Mr. Wass for overseeing the events of the day.


Wednesday, 23rd May 2018

Congratulations to Barang, JPA class of 2013, for graduating Elon University. This week, Elon University published two stories about Barang and her graduation experience.

Please click here to read about Barang’s graduation streaming live.Please click here to read about Barang’s graduation ceremony.


Monday, 21st May 2018

Recently, Grade 9, together with science teachers, Mr. Kahan and Ms. Linton dissected the organs of a pig. Students divided into small groups to examine the function of each organ in detail. One group prepared a report on their experience:

Science teacher, Mr. Kahan lifted up a handful of organs from a tray and placed them in front of us onto the dissection plates. A few in our class were unsure as we approached the bench. We put our latex gloves on and prepared for the lesson to come.

Mr. Kahan explained that we were looking at the internal organs of a pig. At the end was the trachea and the esophagus, about half a meter long. The trachea is hard and stiff, like plastic, so it can keep its structure open whereas the esophagus is soft and can open and close. We started identifying the organs. We located the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. With help from Vichheka, Mr. Kahan molded clay around the tube of an air pump to make it tight and inserted it into the pig’s trachea. Vichheka and Sokhvisal started pumping. The lungs of the pig started to inflate and swell up to about eight times bigger than when they were deflated. They filled up with air like balloons. The lungs are composed of small sack-like structures inside that can hold air. If we were to iron out human lungs into a thin sheet, they would cover a tennis court! The lungs have a large surface area, so breathing is efficient. Surprisingly, the lungs, when deflated, weigh less than a box of tissues! Mr. Kahan cut off the arteries connecting to the heart. He broke two sharp scalpels in the process showing how tough these blood vessels are, as they need to be able to manage the high blood pressure pumping through the heart.

The heart is a very muscular organ; which makes sense as it beats for the entire life of its host. We gathered around as Mr. Kahan sliced the heart in half. We located the atriums and the ventricles. Examining a real heart this way, rather than just looking at a picture, helped us to understand how it works. Even though it was a pig’s heart, they are so similar to a human heart that they can be transplanted into humans if a human donor is not available.

We went further dissecting a kidney, the organ responsible for filtering waste from the blood. In comparison, the heart is heavier and more muscular than the kidney. The heart of this pig seemed to have more fat around it than the kidney.

This dissection was interesting and informative for the whole class. We connected it to the human body due to the similarity of form and function. This was the second time that we have dissected an animal this year. A few weeks ago we dissected starfish, clams, and crayfish. That was interesting, but it was much more interesting to study the organs of a complex mammal which are so similar to our own organs.

Grade 9 would like to thank Mr. Kahan and Ms. Linton for such a fascinating and informative lesson.


Monday, 14th May 2018

The JPA Spelling Bee finals were decided after long and hard-fought battles in front of a captivated audience. The contest included three divisions: Grades 1 – 3, Grades 4 – 6, and Grades 7 – 9. Each representative was already a champion, having successfully won their respective class’ spelling bees. Congratulations to the winners who are from, Grade 1A – Kannika, Grade 6 – Nasa, and Grade 9 – Sokhvisal.

Each round was watched by the finalists’ classmates who fought the tension of the moment and strained to stay silent while still supporting their class champion. The Grade 1 – 3 division produced the longest competition, and everyone was amazed when a student from grade 1 won with a brilliant performance. The winner, Kannika, said, “I was so surprised when I won the spelling bee. I am in grade 1, and there were grade 2 and grade 3 students in the competition. I studied the spelling list with my mom, again and again, for weeks. My mom would say the word, and I would spell it. Studying each day helped me to remember all the words during the competition. I am so happy that I was able to win.”

Champions: Kannika, Nasa, Sokhvisal

Winner of the Grade 3 – 6 section, Nasa, Grade 6, said, “Winning feels great. Last year I was knocked out on the first word as I had not prepared properly. This year, I practiced every second day for 30 minutes with the other Grade 6 finalist, Sokniza. This extra study helped me as I had studied most of the words asked in the competition. In the end, when there were only two of us, I missed a word and thought that I had lost. I had not learned the word ‘agitation,’ and I made a mistake, adding an extra ‘g.’ Then, Kanyarisa from grade 4, spelled ‘agitation’ correctly, but she made a mistake spelling ‘turbulence,’ using an ‘a’ instead of an ‘e.’ I was suddenly filled with hope as I had another opportunity to win, which I took. The only word I missed was a word that I had not studied. It is true – practice makes perfect.”

This year’s spelling bee was a great success. Thank you to Ms. Norton, Ms. McGowan and the student council for organizing such a great event.


Monday, 7th May 2018

Savong ’18 recently voted as joint winner of the 2018 public speaking competition, shares his experience below.

Savong ’18 with his first place award

Recently, I entered our school’s speaking competition. In the first round, I was presented with the prompt, “Should there be a single currency for the whole world?” I had only two minutes to prepare for the speech, so I had to think fast.

I don’t think a single currency is a good idea as it would leave the world’s economy vulnerable, but I am no expert in economics. I tried my best to weave my arguments into a speech. Obviously, following the clear structure I planned out is easier said than done. The hard part, for me, is speaking to an audience, something that I always struggle with. Nevertheless, I finished the speech in more or less the way I planned it out to be, and then I received an email from the committee that I was among the 15 contestants who had passed the first round and were into the final.

For the final round, we were given two days notice to prepare, and the prompt we were given was, “In your opinion, who has been the most influential figure of the past 500 years?” I have always thought that the answer to this question is Isaac Newton and researching more about him only confirmed that. I took advantage of the time given to prepare and write down my speech:

“To be remembered as the most influential figure of the past 500 years would have to be one of the greatest honors bestowed on a person. This rare and unique honor should be reserved for none other than Sir Isaac Newton. Regarding his legacy to our world, he is ranked as high as the founders of major religions, such as Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Siddhartha Gautama, and Confucius. However, Sir Isaac Newton spawned something far greater in significance than a religion - something that would affect everyone’s lives for centuries to come, whether they’re Muslim, Christian, or Buddhist. He founded modern day science with the invention of calculus and inspired world-changing discoveries by laying the foundations of physics with the three fundamental laws of motion. Prior to the invention of calculus, people understood the world through classical geometry, which analyzes static systems. However, in the real world, where everything is fluid and changing, we need calculus which allows us to analyze dynamic systems, such as the instantaneous velocity of an accelerating object, or the forces and stresses of structures within a building. Many technologies and discoveries that we take for granted today would not be possible if it wasn’t for calculus and the three fundamental laws of motion. As a matter of fact, Einstein’s work on general relativity is a continuation of Newtonian physics. Sir Isaac Newton understood the weight of his contribution to the world as he said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

The unit of measurement for force is called a Newton. Forces lead to the movement of physical objects, and unlike many other types of quantifiable values, forces are invisible. They cannot be seen. Similarly, Newton’s legacy is like an invisible force that has driven our understanding of our world forward. Without this force, it would be almost impossible to see what our world would have been like.”

As I had already expected, the delivery of the speech didn’t quite go as I would have liked. There was a lot of information that I had to cram into the allotted two minutes, and I missed some major bits of information because of this. After my speech, I was concerned about the parts where I thought that I had made errors. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised at the honors assembly when it was announced that I had received first place in the competition. I almost felt like I didn’t deserve the award, but I was proud that I took the risk to do something that pushes my limits.

Master of ceremonies Chanmolis ’19 with the judges and audience



Monday, 30th April 2018

Srey Nich ’16, heads off to start college in Pennsylvania this fall. Srey Nich is a former JPA Student Council president and founder of JPA’s guitar club. She has spent the past two years studying at the American University of Phnom Penh while applying for scholarships to US colleges. She shares her story below.

Not everyone can fulfill their goals right away, but the choices you make will definitely make a difference in how your future unfolds.
Just like most high school graduates, I was excited about what lay ahead after graduation. I was ready to transition and immerse myself into the next chapter of my life. After graduation, I knew I wanted to leave home for college. I wanted to write my own story. I did not want to be chained to the everyday. However, receiving a few rejection letters from overseas colleges during my senior year of high school left me confused and uncertain about what my life would be like after JPA. This experience taught me that life does not always go as you plan – and that is okay. Even though I was not able to fulfill my dream of going to an overseas college immediately after I graduated high school, I have been able to reach my goal via a different route. Rather than stopping me, those rejection letters opened unexpected doors and allowed me to explore other opportunities.

I was awarded a scholarship to study at the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP), and I believed that studying in Phnom Penh was the best way for me to discover who I am as a person. However, many, including some family members and neighbors, discouraged my decision because I am a woman and they believed that the capital city was not safe for women. I did not let this stop me! Receiving support from my parents and JPA gave me the strength to keep pursuing my dreams.

Education USA event

Before moving to Phnom Penh, I was introduced to an organization called, Supporting Her Education Changes A Nation (SHE-CAN) by my JPA college counselors and immediately fell in love with their mission of empowering women in developing countries. SHE-CAN helps women to apply for full-scholarships at great colleges in the U.S. This was my chance, and I did not want to let go of this invaluable opportunity. As I was still very interested in pursuing higher education abroad, I decided to apply to this program while studying at the same time at AUPP. I was pleased that I was sharing this incredible journey with my friend, and fellow JPA graduate, Sinet ’16. We have been able to encourage and support each other along the way.

Voice of America radio interview

During the application process, I was nervous, but my college application experiences during my senior year at JPA prepared me well for the challenge. After many interviews, I was given two days to prepare a final four-minute speech on the topic of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. I felt a great deal of pressure, but I knew I that this was my one chance, so it was time to give it my all. It must have gone well as after I presented my speech, I was asked to be a SHE-CAN candidate. During the next two years, there were times when I felt overwhelmed due to the workload from university, SHE-CAN, and life in Phnom Penh and I felt like giving up. However, when I found myself in those situations, I always reminded myself of why I moved to Phnom Penh in the first place, and it helped me focus. I learned to manage my time and to prioritize my workload. I understood that if I was doing my best, that is all I could do.

Presenting to students

After passing all the requirements, I became an official SHE-CAN scholar. That was by far my favorite part of the application process because I got to meet inspiring mentors who were so supportive of my journey. They helped me with my college application which was bolstered by my work at AUPP. With support from SHE-CAN mentors and the college counselors at JPA, I worked on choosing schools to apply to, writing my personal statements, and organizing my financial documents. When I finally hit the submit button, I took a deep breath and was super proud of my journey with JPA and SHE-CAN.

My fellow candidates

It was early one morning when I received an email telling me that I had been offered a scholarship to study at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania USA. I contacted my SHE-CAN advisor to make sure that it was not a mistake. They confirmed that I really had been accepted. I did not truly believe it until I received my official acceptance letter and the financial package over a month later. It was then that I shared the news with my family who were so happy. It is definitely a dream come true.

Kampot, Cambodia

I have met many inspiring women during my journey to Gettysburg College. It was a privilege to share my journey with fellow JPA graduate Sinet, who is also heading to the US after receiving a scholarship to Bucknell University, Pennsylvania. There were many obstacles along the way, but in the end, moving to Phnom Penh for college, getting lost in the city on my way to classes, and working on my assignments late at night has finally paid off. I would not have been able to reach my goal without the support from my family, JPA, SHE-CAN, and AUPP. Thank you all so much!