Livonia Central School’s Coordinator of Learning, Dr. Jennifer McMahon, joined Livonia alum, Mr. John Ganshaw, for an amazing two-week experience in Cambodia. This was a culminating trip after working with teachers in the Prek Toal floating village in Cambodia for the last year.
The partnership began a little over a year ago. John, a graduate of Livonia Central School District, reached out to see if the school might partner with the non-profit organization he is part of in Cambodia, The Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation. This organization focuses on improving education and healthcare within the Prek Toal floating village, located on the Tonle Sap River in Battambang Province in Cambodia. It became clear within the first few conversations that the best place to start would be to focus on the teachers, so over the past year, Dr. McMahon worked with John Ganshaw and the members of the Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation to design a Teacher Institute, a virtual Teacher Leader Academy, an educational visit program for university students from the Education University of Hong Kong, a second virtual Teacher Leader Academy, and then an in-person Teacher Leader Academy this November with a student field trip experience.
Dr. McMahon traveled to Cambodia from November 5-November 18 to facilitate the Teacher Leader Academy, conduct follow-up coaching in the Prek Toal floating village, and to visit schools in Siem Reap and Battambang provinces. While meeting with Khmer members of the Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation Board, Dr. McMahon and the team drafted a proposal to be presented to the Ministry of Education and Youth Sports to create a pilot program for a GED equivalent in Cambodia. There is currently no pathway for anyone with interrupted education to earn a high school diploma once they reach adulthood. Since the floating village and many rural areas in Cambodia do not have high schools, many students have no opportunity to complete their education unless they have relatives living in a city or can afford to pay for room and board in a town or city with a high school. This means there are many adults, especially in rural areas and floating villages, who had no opportunity to continue their education beyond 9th grade. Dr. McMahon and the Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation are proposing a pilot program to create an alternative learning pathway for adults with interrupted education, using the trained teacher members of the Teacher Leader Academy to provide instruction. In order to enhance opportunities, Dr. McMahon is working with other administrators at Livonia Central School District to develop future teacher and student exchange experiences. Dr. McMahon will be returning to Cambodia in April 2020 to meet with Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation members and the Ministry of Education to continue the discussion regarding the proposal for alternative education pathways.