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School House Report – August 2009

The two months leading up to the end of the 2008-2009 school year have been very busy and exciting. Sarin had a successful tourist season leading a lot of tours, but as the tourist season wound down he was even busier supervising the projects at the Spitler School.

 

In our last newsletter we told you of the completion of the new 6th grade classroom named for our donor, Karsten Schroeder, who generously donated funds for the construction. We were very excited and grateful when one of our travel friends stepped forward to purchase the 20 new desks that we needed for the new classroom.

 

 

As soon as the construction was completed on the 6th grade classroom our construction crew turned their attention to the kindergarten building which was in need of reconstruction. This required removing most of the building down to the foundation and rebuilding it with heavier steel framework, brick and mortar walls, a tile floor, and metal roof. The kindergarten room is the largest classroom housing the most students, and it is used for larger community meetings. While it was our most expensive building project we believe that it will be the last major construction project that will be needed for the foreseeable future.

 

Before

After

 

Pam and I are pleased to name this building for my mother, Rae Spitler, and my sister, Kay Spitler. Both Mom and Kay have been wonderful supporters of the school from the beginning of the project. Both have been teachers, and Kay has taught kindergarten and first grade classes during most of her 38-year teaching career. We could think of no better way to honor them both than by dedicating this new building in their names.

 

 

We would like to send out a “thank you” to some new friends from Singapore who visited the school in July bringing several boxes of school supplies and other treats for the children. Thiagarajan and Shantini also took the time to send us a comprehensive report about their visit to the school and their observations. Here is a short quote from their report that we were so pleased to read.

 

“The children were delightful and were very disciplined.  We handed out sweets to them and none of them rushed forward and all were beautifully behaved. They were little angels. Teachers were well dressed and groomed.  We had the chance to speak to them and they seemed dedicated and sincere in carrying out their duties.”

 



 

On July 30 the 2008-2009 school year came to a successful close with a ceremony honoring our top three students from each of the highest grades. Following a tradition that we established last year we awarded a brand new bicycle to the top student in each of grades three, four and five.

 

Sarin arranged a very nice awards ceremony, inviting the students’ parents and the local village officials. The ceremony ended with a meal for the teachers and honored guests and a small party for the students. All three of the young ladies receiving bicycles had at least one parent who attended. The parents were honored for supporting their daughters’ achievements, along with each of their three teachers.

 


 


 

We wish to welcome the Hess family as new friends of the Spitler School. After visiting the school earlier this year they offered to get involved and decided to sponsor the incoming 6th grade class, which will be our first graduating class in July 2010. This allowed us to do something special for this class along with all of our teachers.

 

On August 1 Sarin arranged for a large bus to pick up our teachers and our new 6th grade students and take them for a field trip to Tonle Sap Lake, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Pam and I have visited the lake twice on our trips to Cambodia, and it is a very interesting place where hundreds of families live in floating homes. Although it is not far from Siem Reap none of our students have had the opportunity to visit. It was a great day for the teachers and the children. The cost for creating this opportunity for the children was $210 which included hiring the bus, hiring the boat at the lake, and providing a meal to the group.

 

We continue to look for inexpensive but meaningful ways that we can enhance the quality life for our students and teachers as well as providing a basic education. Enjoy a few photos of this special day.

 

 


 


 

For the next six weeks our teachers will take a break, our students will take their summer holiday, and hopefully Sarin will have some time to relax and enjoy some time with his family and especially his new little daughter. In mid-September we will launch our fifth year of the Spitler School, and we are looking forward to a great year as we complete our goal of having a full primary school with grades kindergarten through 6th grade.

 

On behalf of all the children of Spitler School, Pam and I send our heartfelt thanks to many friends, some of whom we have never met personally, who have stepped in to help us grow this project and to keep it healthy and viable. We would like to send a special “thank you” to the following people who have made contributions to the Spitler School Foundation since our last newsletter in May.

 

The Hess Family

Rick, Carol Ann, Becca and Anna

(sponsoring 6th grade)

Pam D. (desks for 6th grade)

Peter & Sally Preston (bicycle)

Kay Spitler

Bob & Betty Shellenbarger

Mike & Sharon Daggett

Paul & Barbara Barnes

Jim & Mary Wiggens

Audrey Tsuruda

Judy Horowitz

Sharon Lund

Lynn Marr

Dennis Campbell

 

On a final note, the Spitler School Foundation ended its fiscal year on June 30. We have filed our yearly 990EZ form with the IRS, and a copy is available to any of our donors upon request.

 

 

Daniel & Pam Spitler, Directors
Spitler School Foundation
P.O. Box 730
Peoria, AZ 85380
“Resource Providers for Cambodian School Children”
http://dannypam.smugmug.com/gallery/2466201_eEC9c


IRS EIN # 20-8085411

School House Report – March 2009

We apologize that it has been so long since we have updated our friends and support network about the happenings at the Spitler School. It has been a trying time for just about everyone having to find ways to cope with this economic tsunami, but especially for those of us in the housing industry. Which is why we are especially grateful to those of you who made generous contributions to the Spitler School Foundation.

 

From our 420 bright-eyed children, and their teachers and families, please accept our heartfelt thanks.

 

Of course we are still basking in the memories that we made in November when we were able to visit Cambodia and spend time at the school and with Sarin and Mary. We were excited about being able to take this trip with my father, Irvin, and my sister, Kay, along with good friends Cheryl Turner and Melissa Fox. The trip turned out to be quite exciting as our return travel plans went up in smoke when protesters shut down the Bangkok airport. Dad, Kay, Cheryl, and Melissa wound up stuck in Bangkok for an extra eight days before finally getting a long flight home. Pam and I were luckier in that we were stuck in Cambodia trying to get back to Bangkok, so it was easier for us to find an alternative route home through Vietnam and Hong Kong.

 

The only problem we had was that Sarin was having to scramble around helping us secure airline tickets and space on rapidly filling flights on the day that Mary was going into labor and trying to deliver their second child. We are grateful that Sarin was able to put us on our airplane and race to the hospital in time to greet his new baby daughter, named Vitee.

 

 

Obviously we were thrilled to arrive home and find an email from Sarin letting us know that Mary was doing fine and 7-year-old Vita had a healthy baby sister.

 

As Christmas was approaching, our friend, Virginie Paessler, who taught English at the school as a volunteer for a month in 2007, pledged some funds to purchase all of the children some fruit for their Christmas celebration.

 


 

The following month a dozen concrete benches were delivered to the school purchased by Irvin Spitler and Cheryl Turner.

 


 

Our family members made contributions to the foundation in lieu of Christmas gifts this year, so we appreciate those donations from Mom – Rae, Sister – Kay, and Kids – Lindsey and Kyle.

 

After the first of the year we celebrated with Sarin as he completed his university studies and will be graduating with his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He continues to amaze us that he has been able to administer the school and lead tour groups during the day while attending his university classes at night. In between all that he gets to be a Dad to Vita and Vitee. I am sure that he gives a lot of credit to Mary for helping him to achieve so much.

 

We were happy that our friends Elizabeth Merrifield and Jeanette Harrington were able to visit the school in February. We traveled with Elizabeth and Jeanette to Antarctica in 2007, and we were glad that, when they made plans to visit Cambodia, we were able to connect them with Sarin and they visited the school along with their travel companions Sharon Lund and Carol Osborn. The ladies brought school supplies and hundreds of toothbrushes to give to the children, and they also made donations, which were used to refurbish the tables in our kindergarten class.

 


 

Additional funds were donated to help with the ongoing fence project. The new fence will provide additional security for the children as well as keeping domestic animals from causing damage to the school buildings and landscaping.

 


 

We are also grateful to other visitors to the school, Rich & Judy Kalich and Bruce & Janelle Osborn. Both couples donated funds to the Spitler School Foundation designated for the drilling of two water wells. Sarin was able to coordinate the drilling of these wells in early March so that more children will now have access to clean water.

 

April is always an exciting month in Cambodia. It is when the country celebrates the Cambodian New Year, and it is the biggest holiday of the year. The school will be closed for this three-week holiday, and we are hoping that our students and teachers will have the opportunity to celebrate a safe and fun-filled new year with their families.

 

As we look toward the future we are preparing for another building project. New construction needs to happen before the rainy season begins in the summer months. When we add a sixth grade class next year we will need another classroom. In December we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase some additional land bordering the front of the school property. This additional plot of land will give us the room to add one more classroom without taking away from the playground area in the middle of the campus.

 

We are also very fortunate to have a wonderful supporter of the school, Mr. Karsten Schroeder, who is providing enough funding to the foundation to cover the cost of the construction of the new classroom. So, in the near future, we plan to celebrate the dedication of the “Karsten Schroeder 6th Grade Classroom.”

 

We also hope to be able to rebuild our kindergarten classroom. This is the oldest of our classrooms, built with inexpensive materials and a thatched style roof. While the foundation of the building is still good, the structure has not held up well to the three rainy seasons that it has endured, and we are hoping to be able to rebuild it with the heavier construction materials that were used for the three buildings that we erected in 2007. We would like to begin this project as soon as possible and have it completed before the worst of the rainy season arrives this summer. Naming rights are available to anyone who would like to participate in this rebuilding project.

 

Some day we would like to assist the village in repairing the road leading into the school, which becomes almost impassable during the rainy season, but we are hoping that the local government will provide more than half of the funding for this project if we can raise a matching amount. It appears that this project isn’t workable within this year’s government budget, but we will continue to work with the village leaders to pursue this project in the future.

 

Finally, we are extremely pleased to celebrate the continued support of Richard Chong and his organization called AKIDS from Singapore (www.akids.info). On their yearly visit in March the team from AKIDS delivered school supplies to each student at the school (notebooks, a pencil and pen, a sharpener, an eraser, a ruler, and some snacks). They brought two soccer balls and some general supplies for the school. They also did an advance survey to identify our students who are orphans or who live in single parent homes. Each of these students received a 5kg bag of rice. We are extremely grateful to Richard and all of his team members who made the visit to the school and to their donors, who continue to provide assistance to several schools in Cambodia.

 


 


 

We wish to acknowledge, with sincere appreciation, those who have provided donations to the Spitler School Foundation over the past four months, since our last newsletter. We can’t tell you how much your caring support means to all of us involved with this important endeavor.

 

 

Karsten Schroeder

Richard Chong and the AKIDS Team

Terry Lyman

Lynn & Faith Olson

Rae Spitler

Kay Spitler

Lindsey and Kyle Spitler

Irvin Spitler & Cheryl Turner

Barbara & Jerry Shapiro

Elizabeth Merrifield

Sharon Lund

Jeanette Harrington

Carol Osborn

Jim and Mary Wiggins

Elva and Terry Paul Schoenrock

Rich and Judy Kalich

Bruce and Janelle Osborne

Lisa Hoffmeyer

Joan Gilbert & Joel Armstrong

Windy Zachek

John & Ada Cillis

Jeanine Watson

Greg Johnson

Lou & Claudine Hopper

Ida Cutberthson

Susan Galliher

Dick & Maureen Wright

Lynn Mar

Bob & Jean Kilker

 

 

Danny & Pam Spitler, Directors
Spitler School Foundation
P.O. Box 730
Peoria, AZ  85380

“Providing Resources for Cambodian Children”
www.dannypam.smugmug.com 

School House Report – December 2008 Part 2

We are happy to share this report on Pam’s and my recent visit to Cambodia to visit the school in person. This was our third trip to Siem Reap, and we have been looking forward to this visit for many months. We are also really happy that my father, Irvin, and my sister, Kay, were able to join us on this trip along with Dad’s partner, Cheryl Turner, and one of Kay’s friends and a fellow teacher, Melissa Fox. We started the trip in Thailand where Pam managed to break a bone in her foot stepping over a railing after exiting a tour boat, but she survived the rest of the trip using a high-tech air cast, crutches, and wheelchairs.

 

After a week in Thailand we took a late flight to Siem Reap on November 20. We emerged from the airport to be greeted by Sarin and several of the teachers from the school. They had beautiful bouquets of flowers to present to each of us, and we were loaded into a large van and delivered to our rooms at the Somadevi Hotel. As soon as everyone had their rooms assigned Sarin whisked me off to a nearby restaurant where the teachers, village leaders and others were going over all the final arrangements for the ceremony scheduled at the school for the following morning.

 

We were up early on Friday, November 21 so that we could arrive at the school well before the ceremony, which was scheduled to start at 9:00. We arrived to find hundreds of our students and other villagers lining the little roadway leading into the school and welcoming our arrival.

 


 

We were surprised at how large the ceremony was going to be. Sarin had arranged for a beautifully decorated stage with room for all of us, along with many dignitaries, and several Buddhists monks. There was also a temporary tent set up with hundreds of chairs for seating for the school students and villagers who were invited to the ceremony.

 

We got underway with the arrival of His Excellency Okgna Sieng Num. Sieng is a member of the Cambodian parliament and is the highest-ranking political figure in the Siem Reap area, probably the equivalent of a US Senator here in the States. He was accompanied by the District Mayor.

 


 

Once we were all on stage Sieng and the Mayor received blessings from the monks and, after a welcoming speech by Sarin we were treated to a children’s dance performance, and a group of the Spitler School students sang the Cambodian National Anthem. My speech was followed by a speech from the District Mayor and then there was a speech by Sieng Num.

 


 


 

Sarin served as my interpreter, but for all the other speeches Sarin had pre-printed the speeches in both English and Khmer so that we could all follow what was being said.

After all the speeches there was more traditional Khmer music and then it was time for Sieng Num to present Cambodian Gold Medals to me and Pam and Dad for our contributions to Cambodian society. Kay, Cheryl, and Melissa were all presented with certificates of appreciation from the Cambodia Ministry of Education.

 


 


 

At the end of the ceremony Pam and I presented coffee table books on Arizona to Sieng Num and the District Mayor along with Arizona Highways calendars to all of other dignitaries who were attending the ceremonies. We all certainly felt very honored and appreciated by end of the ceremonies.

 

The following morning a story on the ceremony made the local newspaper, and over the next couple of days a video of the awards presentation ran on four different Cambodian television stations. Pam and I happened to be having dinner at Sarin’s house when he received a phone call, raced to the TV set, and turned it on just in time for us to watch ourselves on one of the national Cambodian stations.

 

Sarin did an amazing job of planning and coordinating this event, which we hope will lead to more visibility about the educational needs in Cambodia. It also provided our little impoverished village with a great sense of pride and dignity, as well as raising the profile of our school and our students.

 

We spent the next two days touring the amazing, ancient temples of the region, including the incomparable Angkor Wat, and we also visit the floating villages located on the biggest lake in Southeast Asia. However, on Monday morning we were back at the school for an all morning visit with just the teachers and students. Cheryl had donated funds to buy each of the students a pair of flip flops, the primary foot wear in Cambodia, and Kay, Melissa and their friends back in Phoenix had sent school supplies which they presented to each of the teachers.

 


 


 

On Monday evening we hosted an appreciation dinner at one of the local restaurants and invited all of the teachers and the village leaders along with their families. We also invited the principle of the middle school where our kids will begin attending after 6th grade, tour guides who have supported the school, and representatives from the Ministry of Education. We also invited our new friend John Yoder who is in Cambodia working for an organization called Reaching Kids. John is from Prescott doing missionary work along with his new wife, Sotey. In addition to joining us for dinner John and Sotey brought $100 worth of books for our library and school supplies which they presented to our teachers from the Reaching Kids, International organization. John and Sotey’s website is www.cambodiamissions.com.

 


 

It was a grand evening full of fun and food and Cambodian beer, and we were happy to share the evening with both new and old friends, all of whom share our hope for a better future for Cambodian children. Sarin’s wife Mary, pictured above in the pink top, joined us for dinner despite being past her “due date.” Two days later she gave birth to a healthy new daughter.

 

We will close this letter by expressing our sincere appreciation to all of those who are so supportive of this project. We also appreciate all your prayers and concerns for our safety during this trip.

 

Daniel & Pam Spitler
Spitler School Foundation
P.O. Box 730
Peoria, AZ 85380
“Resource Providers for Cambodian School Children”
http://dannypam.smugmug.com/gallery/2466201_eEC9c

IRS EIN # 20-8085411