Monday, 12th February 2018
Photo: Joachim Alexander

Alumna, Socheata ’14, and her team from Stamford University, Thailand have won second place in the annual, Rangsit University PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust) competition in which teams create and present projects and assess their efficacy within the parameters of the competition. Their entry centered around the work they undertook as volunteer teachers in a rural area of Thailand.

PDCA is an iterative four-step management method used for continual improvement of processes or products within in any business or institution. The Rangsit University PDCA competition has run for many years, with the aim of providing students with an opportunity to showcase their understanding and application of PDCA. Students team up with advisors, to present a practical project to a panel of judges. Projects must fall into one of the following categories: academics, environment, preservation of arts and culture, sports, or research.

Socheata’s team monitored the success and ongoing development of a volunteer project which saw them travel to Ratchaburi in western Thailand to teach in two local primary schools. Having given their time to this project, applying the PDCA framework gave them a chance to evaluate its success and, where necessary, make improvements.

Competitors and Judges. Photos: stic.ac.th

Socheata said, “I originally signed up as I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to give back to the community and explore Thailand at the same time and it turned out to be a great experience. However, I did not know it would lead to me taking part in this competition.

“I was unaware of the PDCA competition until the beginning of the year when the organizer of our volunteer project invited us to enter a team, representing Stamford International University. As there was only a short time before the competition, we were under enormous pressure to be ready. Our group consisted of two lecturers, a project advisor, and four contestants, one of which was me.

“Being the last group to present can be difficult, but we were very confident. Our entry incorporated the PDCA model into the structure of our volunteer project, showing areas where it could be improved and streamlined. It outlined ways to improve many areas, from preparing lesson plans and budgets to measuring the satisfaction and results of the students, teachers, and project advisors, as well as working on ways to improve future project planning processes. As we presented, the judges looked over our reports and prepared our scores. The judges told us that we had given the best presentation, but overall we had placed second. On reflection, we could have improved by having longer to prepare and including more data to support our position, but there is always next year.

“Later this month, we will be returning to Ratchaburi to teach the students and our team will be bigger and will stay longer on-site. The whole competition was an enjoyable experience, but, for me, the volunteering project was by far the most important part.

“Volunteering is one of the few activities that I can participate in while at college. While I feel the need to make my university life more interesting, I also want to make sure that I contribute in a meaningful way, giving back to society. In this project, I got the chance to be away from the bustling city of Bangkok and surround myself in an environment similar to Cambodia, as the air and atmosphere felt like home. The competition also allowed me to practice my public speaking which is a skill essential to my major of Broadcast and Journalism. As I am on the verge of finishing my university degree, I want to acknowledge everyone who has supported and guided me along the way, thank you JPA.”

Thank you Socheata.


Monday, 5th February 2018
Sign Photo: mmoorejones.com; Photo of So: Yale-NUS College news, taken by Jessica Sam

JPA alumna, So ’17, is currently attending college at Yale-NUS in Singapore. She stopped by JPA over the winter break and shared some of her experiences of applying to and attending college, and her recent study tour to India.

So has worked hard and has earned incredible opportunities to further her education. Following on from her stellar school career at JPA, So earned a place at Leysin American School in Switzerland. Then, with help from the JPA college and careers office, she became the first Cambodian to enroll at Yale-NUS in Singapore, receiving a scholarship. She is also a proud recipient of the prestigious Alan Chan Study Award which provides funding, additional to her academic scholarship, to cover her expenses while at university. She recalled her excitement and disbelief on the night she opened her acceptance letter and study award financial package, “I was crying so hard! If not for my scholarship, I would not be able to study at Yale-NUS. Now, with a great education from JPA, Leysin, and Yale-NUS, I will be well placed to contribute to my country more effectively. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that JPA has provided for me.”

This desire has spurred So on in her freshman year at Yale-NUS, where she intends to major in Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS). She is also studying Environmental Science and Economics. So hopes to gain significant engineering skills and experience in sustainable development while at college in Singapore.

CIPE trip to India

Recently, So had the opportunity take part in a trip to India organized by Yale-NUS’s Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), which provides students opportunities to earn credits through practical work. So’s visit to India provided her with the opportunity to witness the vital role that local non-government organizations and schools play in both environmental conservation and community development. So said, “Recently, I spent a week in Mussoorie and Rishikesh, two areas nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, in northern India. Nineteen of my peers joined me on a trip named One Health: The Interdependence of Humans, Animals, and Ecosystems. It was designed to show us the interaction between different components of the ecosystem, stressing care for the environment.

Map data © 2018 Google

“We stayed at the Hanifl Environmental Center for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study. We began every day with yoga classes at 6:00 a.m. Then, after breakfast, we took bus rides to explore local communities and then we trekked into the mountains. I was able to interact with Indian villagers and learn a little about their day-to-day lives and how they try to live in harmony with nature. I was, in a way, reminded of Cambodia, noticing the similar challenges that the people in India face, particularly regarding access to health care and education. What I enjoyed most was the one night of camping with the entire group.”

Studying at Yale-NUS, traveling with CIPE, and the opportunities she has in Singapore have all helped to broaden So’s horizons. These experiences resonate with So’s life goal of becoming an engineer and have strengthened her resolve to seek out more international opportunities, especially those relevant to her academic interests. So said, “I am looking forward to more international opportunities with CIPE and being able to learn from them so that I can bring my experiences home to help my community. Exploring different parts of the world helps me to achieve a helpful perspective on the situation in Cambodia and its potential for the future. I love the opportunity to share experiences with others, who are just as motivated as me, to seek change in the world.”

Congratulations So on your continued outstanding performance and we look forward to your next trip home to hear more about your adventures.


Tuesday, 30th January 2018

Model United Nations (MUN) coordinator

It is Thursday afternoon and the events of the past week are yet to sink in. Last Wednesday night, just after 11 p.m., I departed for Shanghai, China, alongside Sokhvisal, Grade 9, and Makara, Grade 11.

Our destination was Concordia International School, Shanghai (CISS), one of the leading schools, not only in Shanghai, but in Asia. Concordia was hosting its 9th annual Model United Nations (CISSMUN) conference, but this time there was a twist. Concordia was simultaneously hosting Global Issues Network Asia (GIN Asia), and it was the first time this had ever been done. Sokhvisal and Makara would be joining over 1,000 students from countries stretching from Ecuador to Fiji.

Tired and cold, we landed at 4.00 a.m. and made our way to our hotel in Jinqiao, where we caught a couple of hours sleep before heading out into the city to explore. The conference would not start until the following day, so the three of us made the most of the opportunity to experience life in one of the world’s biggest cities. Our first stop was the City of God Temple and Yu Garden where we were able to witness the old architecture of China, built in the Ming Dynasty. After this, we had a taste of local Chinese food as we sampled traditional dumplings and sweet duck pancakes. By midafternoon it was time to return to our hotel to make final preparations for the conference and to get that all-important early night.

The opening ceremony of CISSMUN IX was a dynamic affair as we were treated to a traditional dragon dance, most often seen at wedding ceremonies, and believed to bring good luck to all those who see it, which in this case was over 600 MUN delegates. At the end of the opening ceremony, all the delegates made their way to their respective committees where they would spend the afternoon writing resolutions to address major problems facing the world. Makara, representing the Republic of the Sudan, was a part of General Assembly 4 which discussed: the issue of holding credible and transparent elections in post-conflict societies; the democracy deficit in Central Asia and the Middle East; and, political instability in Egypt. Sokhvisal, also representing the Republic of the Sudan, was a part of The Special Conference on Human Migration which discussed: measures to address internal migration; the challenge of assimilating refugees and asylum seekers into Western Europe; and, combating the spread of infectious diseases within refugee camps.

In the run-up to the conference, I had been fortunate to get my hands on a copy of Paul Collier and Alexander Betts’ new book, ‘Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System.’ Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Oxford, is arguably the world’s leading authority on African development and Betts, also at Oxford, is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. The book was described by TED curator Chris Anderson as something, “every political leader, and every citizen should read.” I had been anticipating sharing key sections with Sokhvisal but the tenacious, just turned thirteen year old, convinced me that he would be absolutely fine reading the whole thing on his own. We would meet to discuss some of the key ideas, and it very quickly became apparent, much to my amazement, that he was taking it all in. The book prepared him well for his committee, and he went on to receive incredibly high praise from one of the most distinguished members of his committee.

The final keynote was given on Sunday evening by Peter Dalglish, senior advisor for UN-Habitat Afghanistan, founder of Street Kids International and co-founder of Schools Without Borders. He spoke passionately about the need for students to use their education to make the world a better place, rather than just to make money. He shared his concern that students from privileged schools are on conveyor belts to careers in law, banking, and consultancy and that they should instead pursue more laudable careers helping the world’s poor or working to protect the environment. He lambasted students for being driven to school in gas-guzzling SUVs and sports cars rather than walking, cycling or using public transport, while the future of our planet is in jeopardy. This was a bit lost on Makara who cycles to school and Sokhvisal who takes a school bus. While Peter’s talk may have been jarring for some of the privileged students at the conference, for Makara and Sokhvisal it complimented their daily pledge to ‘build a better Cambodia.’ One of the NGOs that Peter spoke about resonated strongly with the two JPA students because one of its focus areas is Phnom Penh. Skateistan works to ‘empower children and youth.’ At the end of Peter’s speech, Makara and Sokhvisal battled their way to the front of the room because they wanted to introduce themselves. Peter was surrounded by students trying to take selfies, but it was Makara and Sokhvisal that managed to get his attention. They introduced themselves as Cambodian students from a school outside Siem Reap and said that they were interested in the work of Skateistan. Peter said it was a pleasure to meet them and that he wanted to invite them to a big launch event that Skateistan would be holding at the end of February. We may have left Peter without a selfie, but we left with invitations to an event that was aiming to, ‘build a better Cambodia.’ Last night I received formal confirmation from the founder of Skateistan that it would be his “pleasure” to invite Makara and Sokhvisal to their upcoming launch event.

This would have been the finale of an incredible weekend if it had not been for what happened next. I had been concerned about sending a thirteen-year-old to an MUN conference at a top-tier international school where most of the other delegates would be juniors and seniors. I wanted to ask one of the most distinguished delegates in his committee how they thought Sokhvisal had done. I didn’t have to look very hard because one of them found me first. The delegate of Italy, an ivy league bound senior and veteran of 15 MUN conferences bounded up to me and said he had, “never seen a kid like Sokhvisal before.” He told me that this was his last MUN as a high school student and he was so glad to have been in a room with Sokhvisal. He said, “I just had to get his details because this kid is going to end up at the UN.” He offered plenty of encouragement to our school and said that we could email him at any time if we ever wanted any tips or advice on anything related to MUN.

A couple of hours and over 2000 words later, it still hasn’t sunk in. Three days of vigorous, high-level debate, four incredible keynote speeches, two outstanding JPA delegates, and an invitation to an event where we can contribute towards building a better Cambodia. I am going to start looking for our next top-tier MUN conference.


Monday, 15th January 2018

This year’s kindergarten classes headed off for our annual visit to the nearby Angkor Silk Farm which coincides with their science unit about life-cycles.

The Silk Farm is a fascinating place for inquiring young minds as the children see everything from the moths laying eggs to the larvae feasting on mulberry leaves and spinning their prized cocoons of silk then emerging as adult moths. Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Ragone, appreciated the opportunity for the students to see and touch the silkworms and cocoons. She said, “It was great to see the student’s excitement as they learned about this interesting animal and watched the process of creating garments.”

As the silk farm staff explained all about the life cycle of the silkworms, the students watched as the artisans pulled apart the cocoons and showed how they weave the silk to make beautiful garments. Kindergarten student, Sina, loved her trip. She said, “At the silk farm, there is a big machine, and they use the machine to make clothes, and they use the silk from the cocoons of the silkworms.”

We love having the silk farm so close to school, and we appreciate the staff taking their time to explain a great example of life-cycles.

Welcome 2018

Tuesday, 9th January 2018


Friday, 8th December 2017

Once again, we participated in the annual Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Both students and teachers participated, with 42 students and ten teachers running. The event had a carnival atmosphere and attracted runners from 71 countries from all over the world to the world famous temple complex with most of the proceeds going towards the Angkor Hospital for Children.

Students prepared for the event by joining the afternoon running club through the first semester. Their goal was to increase the distance they ran gradually so that they would be ready to complete the race.

Soth, Grade 12, who finished 64th overall out of more than 2,700 runners, set a new JPA record of 1 hour, 35 minutes and 59 seconds. He said, “I had never run 21 km in a race before and my time was a real surprise. I trained twice a week for months with the running club, and I also put in extra training sessions at home. These were my long runs and I did a full race distance the week before the event in a time of 1 hour 46 minutes.

“At the start line, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get going. At the first time check, I was just trying to keep my pace constant. At the next time checks, I tried to gradually increase my pace. Towards the end, I got a stitch and wanted to stop pushing myself, but I thought, ‘the faster I finish, then the sooner I can stop.’ So, I sprinted the last part and was spurred on by all of the cheering JPA supporters. When I crossed the line and saw my time I was stunned but, at the same time, so proud. At school this week so many people have come up and congratulated me on my time. I am hoping that whatever college I go to has a great running team as I want to get better and better.”

Many people worked hard to make the event a success; thanks to Mr. Kahan and the other teachers in the running club, Ms. Sodom for organizing the refreshments and the admin team for making sure it all went smoothly.

We will rest our legs for a while, and we look forward to next year's event. Soth, you have set the bar high.


Monday, 4th December 2017

In cooperation with Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), our high school students and staff donated blood this week in AHC’s Blood Drive organized at our school by careers counselor, Ms. Houston. AHC is a charitable trust providing excellent health care to the children of Cambodia, and we were pleased and proud to have a chance to contribute to their work.

The medics arrived in an ambulance with their equipment and set up a registration desk, and two beds for donors. Our students assisted by registering the donors and supervising the elementary students who came to watch the process.

The medics kindly explained what was happening and how they have to make sure all blood donations are clearly labeled, screened and properly stored to keep the process as safe as possible. Students learned how blood donations are so necessary for so many patients, not least of which are victims of traffic accidents.

Some donors were a little apprehensive about the needles, but all were happy to help raise awareness and, hopefully, the donations from our area.

Ms. Houston noted, “It’s great to help our community, and it’s beneficial for the younger students to watch and learn as many of our students would like to become health care professionals.”

AHC made it very easy for us to donate by coming to collect donations right here at school, but we are reminded that it’s always possible to volunteer to give blood at the hospital any time of year.

Thank you to AHC for the great work you do and thanks to all the donors.


Monday, 27th November 2017

This week, Grade 1 students visited high school’s state-of-the-art science laboratory to conduct scientific observations using compound light microscopes. Recently, they began to study the topic of Earth Science. Understanding the properties of rocks and minerals can be a little challenging for six-year-old students so, it helps to be able to touch, feel, and examine samples as well as reading about them and looking at pictures. Visiting the lab to hold, observe, and classify specimens of obsidian, quartz, jade, gravel, and halite under a microscope and with the naked eye provided the hands-on experience essential for a deeper understanding of the subject.

High school science teacher, Mr. Kahan, welcomed everyone with an announcement that upon entering the laboratory all the little scientists would be called, Doctor, as for this activity they would be known as super geologists prompting a cheer from the class. Inside, the students were wide-eyed as they had never seen such a place filled with microscopes, skeletons, periodic tables and so much fantastic equipment. Large samples of minerals were on display, and Grade 1 teacher, Ms. Tikhonova, and Mr. Kahan identified their properties, and ways to classify them. Working in teams, students examined and took notes about their observations of the rock and mineral samples. Moving to the microscopes, they observed the structure of salt crystals in detail and made inferences about how microscopes can help scientists to learn more about the world.

Nisa, Grade 1, said, “We learned that minerals could come from volcanos. Mr. Kahan showed us some concrete, and that is not a mineral. Minerals are natural and are not man-made. Minerals are not made of plants or animals. Minerals are non-living and natural. Sometimes they look like crystals under a microscope.

“We used adjectives to describe the properties of minerals identifying their color, shape, texture, and size. My favorite thing was using the microscope to see the salt crystals. There were all kinds of shapes: hexagons, triangles, and squares; it was amazing. I want to go back and use the microscope every day – I want to see what germs look like.”

As a finale to the lesson, students watched an experiment demonstrating how minerals could be hard or soft and are able to change form. Mr. Kahan smashed a large piece of calcium-carbonate he had found while fossicking locally. He crushed the broken pieces into a powder, poured it into a graduated cylinder and slowly added vinegar. The result was the creation of carbon dioxide which was captured in a balloon attached to the top. A transfixed class took turns holding the cylinder, watching as the balloon containing the newly created gas expanded.

The young scientists in Grade 1 were delighted by the experience of visiting one of the high school science labs and cannot wait to return to conduct more research. Thanks to Ms. Tikhanova and Mr. Kahan for providing a memorable learning opportunity and inspiring young minds.


Monday, 20th November 2017

It is that time of year when we acknowledge the outstanding performance of our honor roll students. The student council was in charge of events with members taking turns to emcee. They led the school pledge, introduced each guest and made sure everything ran smoothly. After wonderful student performances, the student council and teachers presented each class with one most-improved award, and B, A, and Straight A honor roll certificates. To end the assembly, teachers took part in a quick game with the students based on times when they had had to show courage as courage is the current character trait that students across the school are learning.

In classrooms, teachers gave a short presentation, updating parents about which topics are covered this year. Teachers made time to meet parents while the students showed and tried to explain their work to their parents. Teachers and parents discussed ways that parents could assist their child’s academic performance and study habits at home. Parents asked many questions and were eager for any tips that could improve their child’s progress.

In the early years we enjoyed some great performances, as children performed song and dance routines. Pre-Kindergarten classes joined together and, dressed as sharks, sang a song, Baby Shark, that had the audience jumping and laughing along to their energetic performance. Kindergarten dressed as happy suns and performed the song, I’m So Happy, which mirrored their parents’ mood as they stood, smartphones held aloft, with excitement to get a closer view.

In the Lower School assembly, the audience swayed to the singing and dancing of Grade 2 who performed a humorous song about dealing with emotions and overcoming problems, Sad, Bad, Terrible Day, accompanied by Grade 1 teacher, Ms. Tikhonova, on guitar. Students from Grade 5 sang, You Are My Sunshine, while enthusiastically playing their ukuleles, accompanied by music teacher, Ms. Chan.

High School listened to a wonderfully eloquent and heartfelt speech from Monita, Grade 11, who described her six-week work-experience internship with Camps International, sharing how the experience had helped her to grow as a person.

Monita said, “Camps International is a global organization dedicated to ethical and sustainable school expeditions. My time volunteering for them at Beng Mealea, outside Siem Reap, turned out to be one of the most memorable times in my life. I worked with a group of 29 Irish students, mainly as a translator. I am normally a shy person, and I do not like to talk much, so it took a lot of courage for me the first time I had to talk to the whole group. As I spent more time working with them, renovating the local village school, I found myself being able to communicate more fluently. I was also given the responsibility of supervising the group work-duties; I had to learn how to assign work in a fair manner, and this task presented me with my biggest challenge and learning opportunity. One day, I had assigned tasks for the morning and was surprised when my group completed them exceptionally early. As there was still quite a lot of time left, I assigned them more tasks to do. However, this caused agitation with the group’s leader, and he insisted that they head back to camp as they had completed their allotted duties. I was unsure how to handle his strong reaction but decided to request transport for them back to camp. Afterwards, I asked the camp director, Mr. Han, about the situation and why it had happened. He explained that unlike the Cambodian custom of people working steadily to complete as much work as possible in a given time, people in some countries can work as fast as possible to allow themselves more free time. This was something I had not understood, and it was a crucial lesson and taught me how quickly a misunderstanding could occur between people from different backgrounds. I learned how important it is to communicate carefully.

“Camps International changed me because I would have never imagined myself here, giving a speech, discussing an experience that has become significant in my life.”

Thanks to the student council for organizing four, very smoothly run assemblies.

Volunteering for World Vets Project

Monday, 13th November 2017
Clockwise from top-left: World Vets; Registration for Surgery with Sareth, Reun, Monita and Sopheak; The Recovery Ward; Operations in Progress

Last weekend, the World Vets organization held their Veterinary Field Project for small animals at Wat Bo Pagoda, Siem Reap. Each year, World Vets sends a skilled team of veterinarians and technicians to execute a community-wide spay/neuter campaign as well as health consultations for dogs and cats. The goal is to control the local animal population as well as treat and prevent zoonotic diseases (diseases that can pass from animals to humans).

World Vets offered JPA students the chance to participate, and twelve volunteers from Grade 10, 11 and 12 were selected. Overall, the entire project had 40 volunteers including seven veterinarians from the U.S. and Canada. Over the course of the three-day project, World Vets spayed/neutered hundreds of animals as well as administering the rabies vaccine to hundreds more. Although de-sexing animals was the primary aim of the project, another part of the campaign was to educate people about the benefits of rabies vaccinations, following on from September’s World Rabies Day.

Sopheak, Grade 10, said, “There were many tasks for us to do and all the JPA students dived into them and did our best. The jobs we were assigned included, registration, administrative paperwork, looking after the animals, identifying and organizing animal owners, and most importantly translation as the vets and other volunteers were unable to speak Khmer. I took charge of the registration and paperwork for vaccinations and consultations for the first day and surgery on the second day. Seeing and getting to experience the work the vets do, makes one appreciate the effort that was put in by every single person there. The work the vets did will help to control some of the issues with stray animals and rabies in Cambodia.”

Event organizer, Nicole Kramer, said, “A very big thank you to the twelve students from JPA who have gained nothing but praise for their work at registration as well as with translation and beyond. They were mind-blowing, super-efficient and organized. The school and the parents can be so proud, bringing up such wonderful young inspiring Khmers leading into Cambodia’s future.”

YorngChhieng, Grade 10, said, “It was my first time seeing surgery performed on dogs and cats, and it was confronting. We also had to cope with the owner’s emotions as they were worried about their pets being in surgery. We did the best we could, and I am so pleased that we were able to help the vets perform so many treatments over the weekend.”

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

Clockwise from top-left: Soka and Chanmolis Promoting Vaccinations; Vanny, Somalita and YorngChhieng talking with a vet; Monita and YorngChhieng Working with Owners; A Monk with Strays

Friday, 27th October 2017

It’s Book Week! At JPA, we love books, and we love book week. We had a fun packed week with lots of ways to celebrate the joy of books, and we ended it with an assembly celebrating outstanding readers.

Monday - Door Decorations: Students decorated their classroom door in a theme based on a book they have been reading. The more colorful and fun the better! The winning classes, selected by Ms. Norton and Mr. Wass, were Kindergarten C, Grade 1B, and Grade 5B. As a prize, they now get to choose ten new books to be added to the school library. Judge, Mr. Wass, said, “The level of work presented was outstanding. We had some tough decisions to make when choosing the winners. Students are so proud of their doors and have been asking, ‘Who won?’ all week.”

Tuesday- Rock Path: Students painted their own, individually designed rocks and then added a word of their choosing that described or inspired them. All of these colorful rocks were laid outside the library to make a bright pathway.

Wednesday- Bookmark Challenge: This was a competition to design the best bookmark. Art teacher, Ms. Kannan, selected Sreynich, Grade 5, as the winner of the competition and copies of her bookmark will be printed and given to lower school students.

Thursday- Author Investigation: Lower School classes selected an author and investigated all about them. Authors included old favorite Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree), and Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking). Students then created displays showing all of the information that they had learned about their author.

Friday- Book Week Assembly: Students and teachers came to school dressed as their favorite character. During the day, students from junior and high school visited lower school classes and read stories. In the afternoon, at the Book Week Assembly, students celebrated their love of reading and a lucky few received prizes for winning competitions.

Thanks to all teachers for their hard work and flamboyant costumes. Now let’s go read, read, read!

Door Decorations
Painting the Rock Path. Bookmark Challenge Winner, Sreynich, Grade 5
Library Read Alouds
Author Investigation. Guessing the Teachers Favorite Book
Book Week Assembly


Monday, 23rd October 2017

At JPA, we are fortunate to have highly skilled and motivated teachers from all corners of the world, including right here in Cambodia. We sat and talked with math teacher, Mr. Sokcha, who teaches pre-calculus, analytical geometry, and AP Calculus, and consistently helps his students to achieve outstanding results.

Tell me about your background growing up in Cambodia.
“I was born in Cambodia while my family was fleeing the war and we still aren't sure about the date of my birth. My story is similar to most Cambodians who lived during the 70’s and 80’s. During those troubled times, my family became refugees so, during my younger years, I was living in Kampot, and then we fled to Thailand when I was seven. After things had settled down in Cambodia, we were finally able to make the treacherous journey home and settle in Siem Reap in 1992.

“I was at school in Siem Reap from Grade 6 until the end of high school when I graduated. Back then we had to teach ourselves or go to private tutoring outside of school to learn properly, and money was always a huge problem. However, I was fortunate that most of my teachers were so gracious and kind, never charging me a single riel to sit in on their tutoring – that was amazing. I worked really hard in mathematics and science and was able to excel. A group of my friends formed a study group so we could teach ourselves and we spent all our free time studying together, and this is where I learned the most.”

Your English is perfect, how did you learn to speak so well?
“I only started learning English in Grade 6 when I started school. However, I became more serious about studying English around Grade 9. Initially, I had nowhere to learn as I could not afford lessons. So, I would go anywhere I could to find someone who would teach me for free. I went to the pagodas, and I learned from the monks, and I also met another Cambodian English teacher who donated so much of his time to me. I was fortunate to end up with many fantastic role models.

“I just had to learn the hard way. We had no radio or TV at home so I would go to my friend’s places and listen to their radios. I would sit and listen to BBC broadcasts for hours – I did not understand anything for a long time but as I listened, the words, and gradually the sentences began to make sense. Hearing things over, and over, and over again, for months and years, helps you to understand.

“In 1998, I met an Australian family who was teaching English in Cambodia for free, and I became a sponge, absorbing their free English lessons, and they would also ask me if I would just like to hang out. They shared meals with me, and I learned how to speak English in a social setting. Soon, I found that I could sit down and talk with native English speakers with ease, in a relaxed manner.”

“It did not happen easily for me after I left school. I helped my Australian friend to build a business in Cambodia, from scratch. He could not find peanut butter here, so we decided to start a company to manufacture it (I had never even heard of peanut butter, let alone tasted it). I helped build it up for two years while I studied at night. It was lots of work, but that is how I was able to earn a scholarship to a university in Thailand to study math. (Incidentally, the company has grown a lot and was voted one of the top 10 brands in Cambodia by the Ministry of Commerce.)”

Why did you choose JPA?
“In 2012 I was working in an international school in Phnom Penh. I had a friend who was at the U.S. Embassy and worked for the Peace Corps helping young volunteers settle in with their host families. He said, ‘There is this great school in Siem Reap, you should look it up.’ However, I thought he was joking – a great school in Siem Reap, come on! Then at the end of 2013, our firstborn arrived, and we decided to move back to Siem Reap to be near my family, and I needed a place to work. I remembered something about this school that my friend had mentioned. I wanted to check it out, but I could not remember the name, it had something to do with ‘Jay.’ Then I found JPA online, it looked like a fantastic school, so I came to work here and am now in my fourth year.”

What do you like about being at JPA?
“I was surprised when I came. I was amazed by the level of support that teachers could get from the administration team. Especially the resources – whatever you request they already have it or will source it. Administration also provides so much professional development, both on and off campus, with seminars and conferences. These things are so helpful for the teacher. The environment itself – it is quiet, peaceful and that is beneficial for the students, helping them to focus on their studies. The student's thirst and hunger for knowledge – they want to learn, and that is just so amazing to see. These three aspects stand out for me.”

What do you hope to achieve at JPA?
“Ever since I was in third grade, I have always wanted to teach math, and I wanted to inspire more people to like math as I think it is fundamental to everything; science, engineering – the many fields where you can use math. The end goal for me would be that more students would like mathematics and they would then pursue it in the future. When they leave for college, they can do math or something related to math. Hopefully, more students will go off to schools in the U.S., Australia or wherever the education is outstanding. Then those students can come back and help to rebuild our country.”

Does being Cambodian help you with the students?
“I do not know how our non-Cambodian teachers relate to the students here, I can only comment on my experience. However, from the moment I first walked into that classroom on the first day in 2014, I think there was a natural bond that took place as soon as I introduced myself. ‘I am Cambodian and come from Siem Reap.’ I told the students my story, and they identified with me as one of them. So for me, the transition to a new school was comfortable in that sense. I know my students, and they know me, making communication and teaching much more comfortable. The connection with the students is just natural.”

Your students AP results are well inside the top 20%, globally – how do you do it?

“The students at JPA are incredibly motivated, and when you put them into an AP class, they know that it is an honor. It is their opportunity to excel so if they can do well now, they know they can do well in college. If you do AP Calculus, you either like mathematics or you want to study science, engineering or IT, and most of my students are into that.

“If you are passionate about the course that you teach students will see that, and that is how you draw them to you. If you are willing to put yourself in their shoes – recognize that sometimes they will stumble, you need the ability to give them the grace to forgive themselves and to forgive them when they stumble and to build them up. It is so beautiful that as human beings we can give them a 2nd or 3rd chance.

“In my first year, I taught about 14 students and almost all of them got a perfect 5 in the AP exams. I think that this shows that the teachers who taught them before me did an amazing job. As a calculus teacher, I am just adding to that prior learning. When you are teaching you should inspire students and help them realize it is not just about the numbers – I like to start by spending quality time on concepts from the real world, like understanding compound interest or examining company data to see if they are honest with people. Students may not remember the dividends or integrals five years from now, but they will retain those concepts and principals.

“Towards the end of each year I always remind students, much has been invested in you, and much is expected from you. You may score a 5 or 4, and I am so proud of you for that, but I hope you are willing to apply this learning, willing to say to other students, ‘Hey, you have a chance! You can do this too.’ It is not an easy class, and sometimes you have to burn the candle at both ends with late nights and hard work, but results will come.

“We set the students up for success. Before class, we inform students about what we need from them and what they need to do as an AP student. This is not just for my class but runs across the board for all of the AP classes. We meet with them 1-on-1 on a monthly basis as they have so much going on, many things going on in the village, many things going on in the classroom that are so subtle that you can miss it during a regular class. However, sitting down and talking with them about what is going on in their life is giving them the ability to channel their emotions, whether they are happy or sad, and I do this for my regular classes as well as my AP Calculus class.”

You left Cambodia to study overseas, and this is what your students are hoping to do. What do you tell them about it?
“One thing that the seniors keep asking me, particularly now, as it’s their time to apply and plan for the future, ‘How did it happen? How did you go to Thailand to study, what did you do?’

“I tell them my story. I did college prep and study for two years after high school in conjunction with working full-time. Through my hard work, I was awarded a scholarship by an NGO to go to university in Thailand. That is where I did my mathematics major, and then I came back to Cambodia in 2005. At JPA you are in a great place as you have such an advantage over students in local schools as you know how the western education system works. You know what you need to do in order to get there, for example, you understand your test scores, standardized test scores, GPA, have the communication and relationship skills that you need to develop to be successful. All of that will serve you in the future. I tell them if they do not get to go to the school of their choice, keep trying as that is what I did. Hard work will lead to more opportunities down the track. I remind them and give them a sense of hope that if you have the will, there is always a way for them to move forward with their education.”

Thank you to Mr. Sokcha for continuing to inspire your students every day.


Monday, 16th October 2017

Somphors, Grade 11, has written to tell us about her trek on a legendary hiking trail, to the summit of Dents du Midi (Teeth of Noon), a multi-summited mountain in the canton of Valais, Switzerland.

One weekend, a small group from my boarding school, Aiglon College, took on the “High Expedition,” a trek to one of the summits of Dents du Midi. We set off right after class on Saturday afternoon, taking packed lunches and small rucksacks with extra warm clothes, as it was freezing cold and raining.

From school, we drove down the mountain for about half an hour. At the bottom of the trail we prepared helmets, trekking poles, carabiners and rope for climbing over rocks and then we set off. We walked for 3-4 hours and it was up, and up, the entire time, stopping only twice for snacks. Being up so high and so freezing cold the rain had now become snow. Our gloves were wet and one of the girls was so cold that her fingers turned purple. Finally, we reached the hut where we were staying for the night. Everyone was very tired so we dried our clothes, had dinner and went to bed really early.

Waking at 6.25 a.m., we got up and readied ourselves for the push to the top. After breakfast, we set off and were so glad to discover that even though it was still extremely cold, it wasn't raining or snowing. We walked and walked for another five hours, straight up, until we were about 500 meters away from the summit. Here, we took a rest while our teachers went to check if it was safe to continue. Sadly, they decided that it was too icy and dangerous to go any further, so we decided to tour around the mountain instead. It took us another 3-4 hours of walking to get down again and we arrived at around five in the afternoon.

At school, the “High Expedition” trek is considered to be the hardest trek of all and is only tackled occasionally due to its’ difficulty. Although disappointed that we hadn’t reached the top, the entire experience was worth it. Views from up on the mountain were breathtaking and well worth the pain and suffering. Our bodies were sore and aching the next day, so going up and down stairs to classes was a bit challenging. But overall I LOVED IT!

Thank you Somphors for sending us your story and the amazing photos.


Monday, 9th October 2017

Throughout Quarter 1, students in Lower School have been producing some amazing work. Teachers love to display this great work outside their classrooms for all to see which makes the students glow with pride. Below are some of the boards on display throughout Quarter 1.


Pre-Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Long, said, “We used wooden letter templates as part of the Handwriting Without Tears program to help students create a display using their names and new vocabulary. Each week we celebrate the Letter of the Week and this display shows our L-lions and E-elephants.”

Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Eyers, said, “We display, Wow! Work, on our display boards and update them weekly to show how much progress the kindergartners are making. This week, they drew a scene relating to their own recent news.”

Grade 1A teacher, Ms. Mays, said, “I like to have a range of different projects up on the display board. Right now, we have displays showing our unit on rules in our community, leaders at home and in the community, Roald Dahl day, and our imaginary animals.”
Grade 1B teacher, Ms. Allen, said, “We read the poem, Twinkle Twinkle Firefly, by John Agard and Grace Nichols, and then students drew pictures of fireflies twinkling in the dark, night sky.”

Grade 2 teacher, Ms. Lillis, said, “After looking at the work of Pablo Picasso, students created self-portraits in an abstract style inspired by Picasso. Then we looked at the painting, Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh, noting how these two artists both paint pictures that are very different from real life. We learned how many artists are influenced by their feelings and paint interesting and unusual images. Students then made their own drawings in the style of van Gogh.”

Liza, Grade 3, said, “In art class, we have been learning about color by painting portraits of our friends. We looked at many paintings before we began and I liked the ones by van Gogh the best. We also created a picture using our hands that had to use both cool, and warm colors. We had to create the picture without putting two sections of the same color next to each other. I think they look amazing”

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3


Thursday, 5th October 2017
Ratana, Monita, and Chanmolis, Grade 11, at the pagoda, performing ‘Dak Bart’

Each year, Cambodians celebrate the important national festival of Pchum Ben. Our juniors and seniors share their descriptions of the event here:

Pchum Ben is one of the most significant cultural events as it is the time when family members join together to honor parents, grandparents, and deceased ancestors. It’s a fifteen-day festival during which we visit pagodas to offer food to monks to honor our ancestors who we implore to continue protecting the family.

On the fifteenth and final day, we make ‘Onsorm’ (a traditional Khmer rice cake) and cook a huge spread of many types of traditional food. This final day is special as food is not only given to the monks, but also to our parents, and relatives. Following the traditions of Pchum Ben, we cook food early in the morning and present it to our parents to show that we are thankful for the life, the love, and the comfort they have given us. During Pchum Ben, parents are traditionally referred to as ‘Preas Ros’ (living Gods).

Following this, we head to the pagoda, which is packed with people who bring all sorts of delicacies with them. Fragrant incense fills the air, and everyone chatters excitedly as they present their food to the monks. The word ‘Pchum’ means meeting. During Pchum Ben we celebrate the rejoining of everything: bodies and souls, family members, and community. Traditionally, this food is believed to reach our deceased family members through the monks. Finally, people perform the ritual of ‘Dak Bart’ in which they place white rice into round black or silver bowls, in the hope that their good deeds will help them in the afterlife.

It’s a pleasure to spend time with friends and family during this occasion and to honor our ancestors and keep our traditions alive.

Sonith, Grade 11, and family at the pagoda, performing ‘Dak Bart’


Monday, 25th September 2017

Once again, students enjoyed Roald Dahl day, an annual celebration of the famous author’s birthday. Children were welcomed to school by characters and decorations from books such as The Twits, George’s Marvelous Medicine, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many more.

The previous evening and in the early morning, events coordinators busily adorned the school with Roald Dahl decorations, quotes, photos, and activities. As children arrived, they were heckled by the mean spirited characters Mr. and Mrs. Twit as they tried to pass through the entrance to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The menu for the day had a decidedly Dahl feel with Squiggly, Wormy Spaghetti and Scary Hairy Cakes from The Twits, and Snozzcumber Sandwiches from The BFG accompanied by a Gobblefunk Salad – a filthsome swatchscollop!

Teachers from Grades 1 to 4 awarded JPA Wonka bars to their most conscientious students. Inside just two of these bars were golden tickets which meant the lucky recipients won a special prize. Ravy, Grade 4, and Sreytoich, Grade 2, were the lucky winners and were delighted to receive prizes of a BFG Dream Jar and a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Ravy said, “Roald Dahl is my favorite author. I really enjoy the way he makes up words. I tried so hard to be extra good all day so I would have a chance to win the golden ticket and I did!”

Thank you to the events team, teachers and especially the kitchen staff for joining in the spirit of the day by making such delicious treats.


Monday, 11th September 2017

Wherever possible, our teachers like to take their students out of the classroom. We looked at some of the activities Grade 1, Grade 4, and Grade 7 have been engaged in around the campus with their science teachers. From Elementary School through to High School, biology forms a part of our spiral science curriculum, enabling students to revisit topics throughout their school career at ever increasing levels of complexity.

Grade 1, has been studying the parts of plants and what they need to grow. To observe these concepts, they planted lettuce seeds in garden plots outside their classroom. After planting, students watered the seeds daily, and observed and documented the plants’ growth. We asked Grade 1 student, Dorisa, what happens when we plant seeds, “The seed will grow if you water it,” she replied, “it needs sunlight, air, and water. I cannot wait to taste it when it has grown!” she added.

Grade 4’s task was to study the different structures of plants through the production of detailed botanical drawings. Students examined different plant structures and their functions. They also compared and contrasted parts of different plants, noting similarities, differences and also variations within the same species.

Hong Ing, Grade 4, shared what she has learned, “For this activity, we drew and labeled scientific pictures of plants from around the school. We have studied the structure of plants and the function of their parts. Some roots, like tap roots, store food, hold the plants in the ground, and take in water and nutrients. Stems transfer water and nutrients around the plant and also hold the plant straight. Leaves have stomata, small holes in their epidermis which facilitate the transfer of gases. To help us remember all about the function of plant parts we used an acrostic mnemonic strategy, MRS GREN, which stands for: Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition.”

Grade 7’s project was to identify all the different species of trees on school grounds and to count the total number of trees. We spoke to some Grade 7 students, who told us, “To identify the different species of tree we compared the bark, the leaves, the stem, and roots. First we classified the leaves into either simple or compound classes. Simple leaves are attached to the stem of a tree. There are different types of compound leaves: pinnate, bipinnate and palmate. We can use these classifications to help us identify and differentiate them. We found 17 species amongst the 1028 trees at school, wow!”

Science teacher, Mr. Kahan, said, “Grade 7 are developing their taxonomy skills and are using their findings to develop dichotomous keys to help identify local tree species. This project shows that the degree of similarity between tree species correlates with evolutionary relatedness and that the trees themselves are interdependent upon a larger ecosystem.”

We are fortunate to have rich, tropical gardens with diverse flora and fauna allowing outside science lessons. Our whole campus can be used as a classroom.


Monday, 4th September 2017
Seiha (R) at Yale University Participants of the Science Camp at NUS Singapore: Kimsreng, Kimheat and Veasna

Over the summer we sent students far and wide to study in many places around the globe. For the 5th year we went to Florence, Italy and Adelaide, Australia, while other groups traveled to science camps at NUS Singapore, and Camps International treks in the jungles of Cambodia. One student headed to the US to attend the Yale Young Global Scholar Program, where he worked on a Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship program that ran for two weeks.

On their return to school, students shared their reflections of their diverse summer experiences in speeches and slideshows at our first assembly of the year.

JPA Students with their buddies from Henley High School at the beach, Adelaide, Australia

Pagnapech, Grade 9, began, “Over the summer, a group of 6 students and I experienced living with Australian families and being international students at Henley High School, Adelaide, South Australia. We made many meaningful and strong bonds of friendship. From the moment I arrived, I was excited to discover magnificent places and meet our host families. My host family introduced me to many of their friends and relatives during a huge dinner. Everyone made me feel at home.

“It was my first time overseas and I was amazed to see Adelaide’s infrastructure, merging nature with the city in so many green parks. We visited the Botanic Gardens and a wildlife park where I got to hold a koala and saw kangaroos. We were given a tour of Parliament House by the MP for Colton and former Henley High School student, Paul Caica. We visited the University of South Australia, and spent an eerie night at Adelaide Zoo walking in the dark to observe the nocturnal animals.

“Henley High School was great. We experienced some different subjects to the ones we are used to, such as Jewelry Design and Manufacturing, Home-Economics, and Drama. This trip made me learn so much about myself and trying new things revealed many hidden passions in me – I had never thought I would enjoy drama, and I absolutely loved the design element of Jewelry class.

“Five weeks flew by so fast, and I couldn’t believe it was time to come back. This trip has put so many things in perspective, to actually see what another part of the world is really like. My travel companions made the trip such fun and I was pleased to get to know so much about them.

“I also want to say a big thank you to JPA and everyone who helped to give us this amazing opportunity. I cannot wait to see if I will be selected to study overseas in the future.”

In and around Adelaide, South Australia
Exploring art, architecture and science in Florence and Sienna, Tuscany, Italy

Tararath, Grade 12, reflected on his time in Florence, “I would like to take this moment to say thank you to JPA for choosing me for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a trip this summer to Florence, Italy. Seven weeks went by in the blink of an eye. We learned something new every day, visiting spectacular churches, statues, and paintings. I noticed that Florentines are doing a lot of conservation work on their historical monuments and artwork. The benefits that Italians receive from their history have inspired me to learn more about the conservation of our own history, through the Angkor Wat temple complex. I think it is important that we know the history of our temples. Having a profound understanding of our greatest architecture fosters the care, and effort we should dedicate to our ancient monuments.

“We also visited astounding places outside Florence with my favorite being Chianti, which is surrounded by lush hills and some of the most mind-blowing wineries, goat farms, and mozzarella farms. These farms had a high level of quality control. Farmers incorporate modern technology and science into their processes, which allows them to track progress and gather results. Witnessing these innovations at work, I strongly believe that as future Cambodian leaders, we will be able to mirror this technological progress in our own country.

“This trip allowed me to bring memories back to Cambodia, but it also taught me to live in the moment and create memories with people around me. I understand now that I must enjoy every moment that I live because time flies, but memories stay. I’m pumped up from the summer, and I’m ready for another great year. Have a great year everyone.”

JPA would like to thank all the staff, friends, and organizations that helped to make this year’s study abroad trips a success for the students. Congratulations to the students for representing our school values abroad.

Milan Cathedral; Leaning Tower of Pisa; Lunch together in Florence


Monday, 28th August 2017

We had a great start to the 2017-18 academic year. Sixty-four new Pre-Kindergarteners joined our school for their exciting first steps in education. Students returning from their summer experiences at Camps International shared stories about their wilderness adventures with visiting British students. Those returning from overseas trips to Singapore, Australia and Italy regaled their friends with photos and stories. The storeroom was bustling with students checking out their text books and the campus was abuzz with teachers and students all busily learning their new schedules and meeting their new and old teachers.

The High School students were excited to learn about new courses on offer this year. Following on from the successful introduction of AP Computer Science A last year, we are expanding computer coding to more students through the Raspberry Pi platform. Also in High School we will open a Civics and Globalization course and in Junior High School, students will have the option to study Personal Development classes. Music choices have expanded this year to include ukulele classes as well as melodica, recorder and guitar.

The first day for Junior High students, High School students, and their parents started with an assembly hosted by calculus teacher, Mr. Sokcha, as parents and teachers renewed their commitment to JPA school values. Following the assembly, parents accompanied their children to their classrooms where teachers outlined the expectations of their courses.

Grades 10 and 11 received certificates for their achievements last school year

Lower School also held an assembly hosted by Ms. Norton, Head of Lower School, who focused on the character education that was so successful last year. She said, “We are building on the foundation set last year and have developed a character program framed around the four main tenets of the student pledge: beginning with discipline, and followed by courage, compassion, and integrity. Students will participate in a weekly character lesson focused on the trait of the quarter.”

Welcome back to all of the returning students, and staff. 2017-18 is promising to be another record academic year.