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, 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.


Monday, 12th November 2018

Story Time in the Library. Book: The Day the Crayons Quit

Poems by Grade 6 Inspired by
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Once again this year our lower school celebrated Book Week. Classes spent the week examining a selected character, book, author or genre. Teachers organized numerous activities to promote the love of literature.

The most popular activity was ‘reading buddies’ as students across the school partnered with younger students to share their favorite books.

Roattana, Grade 3, said, “I partnered with Panyapich from Grade 2 and we read Amelia Bedelia on the Job which is a great book. It was my favorite part of the week as I love reading books and it was so much fun to share with someone else.”

Dany, Grade 3, said, “We chose our favorite characters from all of the books that we had ever read. There are so many good books to choose from. My favorite book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I read it in Grade 2 and again this year. I love it when Charlie finds the golden ticket.”

At the end of the week, classes visited the library throughout the day to listen to guest teachers from both lower and high school reading their favorite stories. Grade 1 teacher, Ms. Brady, read a book, new to many, called The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This hilarious book has quickly become a new favorite with the students as well as the teachers.

Thanks to all the lower school teachers for providing such enjoyable opportunities for students to learn and explore the wonderful world of reading.

Story Time in the Library. Book: The Gruffalo


Tuesday, 6th November 2018

Students from our Model United Nations (MUN) class recently participated in an MUN conference at the International School of Phnom Penh, joining over 15 schools from across South-East Asia. The conference covered topics such as: cyber-warfare security, regulation of cryptocurrencies, digital privacy, and the preservation of indigenous culture and language.

KhemaraRatanaSophairathSenglySrey OnMonikaSokhvisal

Mr. McBride, MUN co-ordinator, said, “Highlights of the trip included the first JPA student to hold the position of Head Chair at a senior MUN conference and the fact that a number of our students were nominated to draft and submit resolutions. Whilst there is room for improvement, these are sure signs of the growing confidence of our students.”

Students shared their reflections below:

Right to Left - Thida, Lin, Sokuntheary

Vanny, Grade 11.
“As a delegate in General Assembly three, it was enjoyable to be part of some passionate debates. The discussions over the question of the preservation of language and culture and the rights of children were particularly engaging. Delegates all had a say when deciding how to ensure that children of imprisoned parents should be protected and raised properly.”

Komin (front)

Sareth, Grade 11.
“I represented the country of Nepal in the Human Rights Council. I took on the challenge by drafting and submitting a resolution on the topic of preventing the exploitation of youth for military purposes. Being the delegate responsible for writing a resolution means having to make many speeches to convince other delegates to support your proposal. However, I and the other delegates managed to write what I thought was an exceptional resolution. Others agreed as many delegates voted for our resolution and it passed. During the debate, there were two delegates who were particularly skeptical about our resolution. As their countries permitted child soldiers, they repeatedly demanded that I make an amendment to allow for voluntary child soldiers. I didn’t attach the amendment, so those countries abstained from voting. It was such an enjoyable debate as I was able to connect with some of the topics I have learned in political science class such as human rights, social dilemmas, and citizenship for refugees. In the end, I was glad to write a resolution and proud that it passed.”

Chantrea (center)

Ratana, Grade 12.

“We debated cryptocurrency regulation. We discussed the growth of electronic payments across the globe, leading towards a cashless society. However, we voiced concern at the lack of regulation that is in place to protect consumers and the danger that cryptocurrency can be used to trade in illegal goods.

“This was my first MUN conference, and it was unforgettable. It was great to see students of different nationalities come together to debate global issues.”

Chanmolis, Grade 12.
“This year I held the role of Head Chair of the Economic and Social Committee, and I enjoyed every single moment of it.

“On the first day, I had to manage the committee alone as my Deputy Chair was delayed at the airport. However, it was a positive day as we prepared many written resolutions. When I got back to the hotel, I shared the resolutions with my Deputy Chair, and we set about preparing feedback on each of them for our committee members.

“MUN protocol states that delegates are to refer to themselves in the third person. However, I was continually forced to remind delegates to refrain from using personal pronouns such as, “I think that,” and “I would have to respond,” rather than, “The delegate thinks...”. Thankfully, there were only a few instances where I had to call for a formal break in proceedings. On one occasion I had to bang the gavel to stop the delegate for Japan from speaking as she had gone over her time limit. She wasn’t going to stop until she had finished her speech.

“In the end, only two out of the five resolutions put forward were passed, one written by a JPA student, Srey On, Grade 10, who told me, ‘I was amazed that no one went against my resolution. Instead, they helped by adding multiple amendments to improve it. I was extremely proud when everyone in the house voted to pass it.’ ”

Congratulations to all the participants, particularly Chanmolis, the first JPA student to hold the position of Head Chair at a senior MUN conference. Thank you to Mr. McBride and Mr. Van Hilten for preparing students for this year’s MUN conference.

SokunthearySarethSopheakro (left)Sampoas (right)