The SSF Story
The Spitler School Foundation story began in 2005 when a young tour guide, Chea Sarin, connected with world travelers, Danny and Pam Spitler. The Spitlers stayed in touch with Sarin and assisted him to drill small domestic water wells to provide clean water to some local villages.
Sarin approached the Spitlers about helping him establish a small school in a rural village near Siem Reap, where the smallest children had no access to school.
Over the course of several weeks, Sarin and the Spitlers exchanged information and the Spitlers became continuously more impressed with Sarin’s organizational skills and his passion for this school project. By Western standards, the funds that Sarin was requesting to build a classroom, purchase supplies, and hire two teachers were a small amount given the potential good that could be accomplished. After working out the budgets and the timetables, the Spitlers agreed to provide the funding for the project, located in the village of Ang Chagn.
After completing a modest structure and hiring two teachers, the school was ready to begin with an expected population of 50-60 children. However, 90 children showed up, and very soon there were almost 200 children wanting to attend the little school. Sarin and the Spitlers agreed to add buildings and teachers to accommodate all the children, and a dramatic story began.
Starting with only three grades, the school added a grade each year until it was serving children from kindergarten through sixth grade. New classrooms were added over the years and the population of the school increased each year until it reached its current student levels which exceed 700 children.
Over the years the original wooden buildings have been replaced with brick and mortar classrooms, along with latrine facilities, an administrative office, a library, and a computer laboratory.
In 2007, the Spitlers established the Spitler School Foundation (SSF) as a 501c3 charitable foundation dedicated to raising funds to support the Spitler School. Over the years, SSF has received generous support from a large number of donors from many countries all over the world.
In addition to funding classroom construction and the annual operating expenses, SSF has also provided assistance to the community with road and drainage improvements. SSF also provides financial assistance to Kurata School, which was a failing government school in the Ang Chagn area.
In 2010, Spitler School celebrated its first graduating class of 27 students. SSF raised funds to provide each graduate with a bicycle, a school uniform, and basic school supplies. These items were needed to enable each student to continue their education in middle school. Many of those students continued their education through middle school and high school. Four of those students enrolled in university courses with sponsors assisting them with college tuition expenses.
SSF continued this tradition of providing a bike, uniform and supplies to each graduating class. With the assistance of our donors, SSF has provided these items to approximately 600 graduates.
In 2012, Danny and Pam Spitler were honored to represent the staff of Spitler School in accepting the White House Champions of Change award presented at the White House in Washington D.C. This award is presented to groups and individuals who have made a significant impact for good in their communities and the world.
In 2013, Spitler School created a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cambodian Ministry of Education. This action brought Spitler School under the auspices of the Ministry thus establishing a strong working relationship with the Ministry and guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of the school.
In 2015, Spitler School celebrated its 10th anniversary with celebration activities at the school and in Siem Reap. The Honorable William Heidt, U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, attended the celebration, as well as a number of donors and the school’s teachers and staff.
From 2015 to 2019, two more classrooms were completed, additional roadwork was accomplished, and the school partnered with iFlix and Planet Water to build a large water tank and filtering system to provide clean water to the school and the village families.
To the delight of the Spitlers, another US NGO, Global ADE, acquired funding to build a middle school, and in 2017 the Stephen Mazujian Lower Secondary School was dedicated. Global ADE gave Spitler School and Kurata graduates a well-funded school where they could continue their education after primary school. Global ADE and SSF began working closely together to share best practices and explore ways to collaborate and assist each other.
In 2018, SSF and Global ADE partnered with Kids Play International (KPI) to bring its sports programs to Cambodia. KPI programs focus on teaching gender equality, respect for others, fair play, and healthy lifestyles through sports. SSF and Global ADE support KPI through the use of the schools’ campuses and encourages KPI’s recruitment of teachers as coaches.
Much has been accomplished over the years, but none of this would have been possible if Chea Sarin, as a young tour guide, had not shared his vision for the impoverished children in his country. With some help from the Spitler family, Sarin applied his talent, his organizational skills, and his amazing work ethic, to create something very special for hundreds of deserving children.
Chea Sarin and the Spitler family wish to thank the numerous individuals and organizations who have provided support for the Spitler School Foundation.