Sala Monkey School Newsletter 2017

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Kindergarten 2 Graduation

Congratulations to our K2 graduates! We're excited to see you in primary 1 next year. We know you'll do great! The graduation event was very last minute so we had a small crowd, but we did have a few parents in attendance who came to support their children.

Special thanks to Teacher Chean who's been with us since we built the school. The students are very lucky to have you teaching them.

Next year, Teacher Chean will be joined by Teacher Kimsy in our kindergarten program.

Special Visit From Mr. Jo

We also had a very special visit from our friend and education partner, Mr. Jo from Belgium.

As many of you know, we found ourselves without a school in 2015. The small home that I had rented in the first village and converted to a school house was no longer available to us and we had to find somewhere else to go in order to continue educating the children. It was during this time that I had put together a crowdfunding campaign to try and fund building a school - one that would be permanent. 

We had kicked off the campaign and friends generously started donating to help us raise the funding for the school. This was also the time that I met so many incredible friends through Humans of New York on Facebook. 

A short while into the campaign, Jo had come to visit us at the original school house at the behest of a mutual friend. During Jo's visit, he mentioned that he had previously visited Siem Reap at the Angkor Wat temple and during his visit he had met a little girl selling postcards to collect money for her schooling. It was at that time that he decided he would find a worthy project to support in order to help provide education to children in Cambodia. Just like the little girl that he had met at Angkor Wat.

Jo and I went to visit the land that I had hoped to purchase in order to build the school. After some careful thought and consideration during his visit, he then decided to help us purchase the land in order to build our dream school. So with the purchase of the land and the generous crowdfunding support of friends and family, we started building our dream school!

 

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Halloween Carnival and Project Presentation

We finally did it! We were able to scrape enough money together at the end of the school year to host our first Halloween Carnival and Term 4 PBL Project Presentation. We always run out of funding by the end of the school year which coincides with the Halloween holiday and we've had to cancel the event the past two years. A special thank you to everyone who gave at the last minute so we could actually host the event this year. The students and their families had an amazing time and we had well over 100 people in attendance. 

Special thanks to Teacher Kimsy who started out as a teaching assistant in primary this past year, she was instrumental in helping the students create the Halloween decorations for our theater backdrop. 

Next year, Teacher Kimsy will be moving to kindergarten where she will lead the creative portion of our kindergarten curriculum! 

P3/P4 PBL for Term 4 "The 7 Wonders of The World" 

Our P3 and P4 students worked so diligently on their final "Project Based Learning" assignment based on the Seven Wonders of The World. They worked on creating their project models which consisted of 90% recycled cardboard. The students worked throughout the three-month period, researching key facts about their location, creating video presentations, informational posters and finally an oral presentation (in English) which they presented to their family and friends. We had over 100 people in attendance and the students did a phenomenal job!  Next year's project will be just as exciting!

 

Sala Monkey Football Team

During the 2017 school year our primary students (boys and girls) began playing football for the first time as an organized team. We were limited to just two games and a handful of practices, but the students really enjoyed it! We competed against Kep International School - a private school near the center of town. The students are all very excited about playing a full schedule in 2018 and hopefully we will be adding some additional teams to play against. Nearly all of the students want to play so we will need to organize different divisions and of course raise money for equipment. 

 

Our Success Stories

For the past two years, we've had a few of our original students who are now in high school, come to intern as teacher's assistants during their long holiday break from government school. This year we had an incredible success story! Our original student, Mall did such an amazing job assisting in the P3/P4 classroom!  

When I first met Mall 5 years ago, she couldn't speak any English and she was extremely shy. She started out as one of my students when I was volunteer teaching in the government secondary school and attended school in our original location in the small house in the village. 

In addition to coming to learn English during the weekdays, Mall and a handful of other students spent quite a bit of time with me at Kep Beach every weekend selling iced coffee and souvenirs to benefit the school. It was through study and practical application that she really learned English quickly. 

She is now nearly fluent in speaking English and was invaluable helping to translate and to mentor the students this past year. Mall has one year left in high school and I'm already looking into options for her to continue her education in university once she's finished. 

Mall comes from a very poor family and one of the keys to her success thus far is her mother's commitment to her and her siblings education. It has not been easy for them, but she made a promise that she would not send her children to go and work in order to provide for the family. They have remained in school and we have supported them as much as possible because of it. Mall has a real opportunity to change the circumstances for herself and her family and I really believe she will do it! 

A Special Gift

We received a very special gift this year from our friends Cameron and Katrina Neill from Australia. The couple was married earlier this year and they generously asked their friends and family to donate money in lieu of wedding gifts  in support of our free education program. We used part of the money to cover the cost of building the concrete extension from the primary building, purchasing a roof for the restroom facility and the remainder to cover operating expenses. Thank you for your incredible generosity!

 

 

NEW for 2018! 

With the addition of our two new foreign teachers, we have decided to offer a Sala Monkey preschool class (3-4 yrs) beginning in January 2018. The new class will include many of the younger siblings of our current students and will include a Montessori based curriculum with a lot of play, fun and learning! 

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Welcoming Our New Volunteer Teachers!!!

When we begin the new school year on January 9th, we will welcome two new teachers. Our new teachers...Miss Katie and Miss Kaylen are both gap-year students from Scotland and they will be spending their time joining our teaching staff here at Sala Monkey from January - August! We're so excited to meet them and to have the extra help this year! 

They are both part of the Project Trust volunteer program.

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Some Challenges...

Social Enterprise

We had a pretty good year with a few exceptions. Our fundraising efforts during the 2017 school year were not as fruitful as years past. Additionally, we attempted to open a social enterprise restaurant this year, only to discover it was a bit more work to manage than anticipated. We have made a few attempts in the past at creating a social enterprise that would allow us to be less dependent on donors, yet our first priority must always be the quality of education that we are providing to our students. 

That said...We are still looking at creating an opportunity to generate at least 25% of our own sustainable funding. Ironically, we began selling coffee from our tuk tuk on the weekends at Kep Beach and although it didn't generate much income, it did turn out to be an amazing tool for the older students to improve their English skills and they had so much fun doing it! The original intent for the tuk tuk generously donated by hostelworld.com was to sell tacos and after many attempts, we found out that the whole process of selling food from our tuk tuk required a lot of time and attention. This next year with the addition of our new teachers, we are looking at giving it a go again! 

Scholarship Program

During the second half of the school year, we launched a scholarship program that we started in support of our kindergarten students. We were looking for the ability to sustain the education we provide and support each individual student. What started out as a positive project, inquired some glitches when many of our students who had been sponsored originally, suddenly lost their sponsorship after the launch of the program. The program can only work if everyone is sponsored in order to not have children or several children who are not provided with support. We ended up having to cover everyone collectively for the most part. A scholarship program is really ideal for a larger NGO or nonprofit that have dedicated staff to find new sponsors and the time to send out timely correspondence. Something we were not able to achieve very well without the manpower. We also had our one and only computer breakdown just as we were finishing the school year and yet another delay in retrieving sponsor lists and getting our correspondence out. In summary, we will need to see how we can improve the program when we return on January 9th and decide how to best move forward. 

General Fundraising

We are in desperate need of regular monthly sponsors to help us meet our budget for operating the school. We survived this past year on a couple of $1,000-$3,000 one off donations and a lot of smaller donations usually under $100. Needless to say, it's always abit stressful not knowing each month if we were going to have enough money to pay the teachers, the tuk tuk driver , the electric bill, etc., 

Holiday and End Of Year Campaigns

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Our Amazon (holiday) Wish List was a huge success! We want to say thank you to everyone who purchased an item or several items in order for Teacher Tracy to bring the school supplies back to Cambodia in January. All of the items collected were extremely well received by our students and teachers. 

To donate funding to help us reach our current goal - click here.

We would like to express our sincerest gratitude for all of your support and we wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018!