Sharing Foundation Fall 2008 Newsletter
Roteang Preschool Srey Leap, just 4, really looks forward to her daily preschool session. After breakfast, she runs down the path from the Orphanage to our preschool building with about ten other children eager for the first session of the day.
Head Teacher Kim Phuong says that Srey Leap is very smart, never naughty, and is particularly helpful to classmates. Srey Leap especially enjoys rhythm band, and our recently donated Cambodian wooden xylophone. When asked, she says her favorite thing about school is “cutting”, that is working with scissors and paper, a newly acquired skill for this 4 year old.
She arrived 3 years ago severely ill with pneumonia and HIV, was immediately hospitalized for over 10 days, and just barely survived. She is now very healthy, on the twice-daily meds she will require through her whole life to control her HIV. She will be one of the new residents of our girls’ dorm at Roteang, once it is completed in the fall. We are very happy to have this lovely child among us.
Our preschool, in front of our main orphanage, was built 4 years ago with funds donated by the Florida-Georgia Lutheran churches, as the result of another drive by Denise Gosch, an indomitable elementary school teacher at St Paul School in Lakeland Florida, who has organized a yearly drive for something for TSF for the last six years.
The building was equipped with furniture made at the Japanese land mine craft shop, thanks to funds given in memory of an adopted girl’s Grandmother. Every game, musical instrument, and project has been donated and hand carried, mostly from the USA. The original supplies were brought by Robin Jean, a long time Montessori teacher in the USA, and current Board member. Robin also did the original training of the preschool teachers. We now have three sessions of school, six days a week, and all children over three years go to one of the sessions.
First in each class comes “circle time,” where Kim Phuong, and her two assistants often demonstrate a new toy or skill. The children sing a song or two, and then they start their individual tasks. Each child gets out a small mat, and then a project such as a puzzle, dominoes [to match spots], or paper and rubber stamps to work on in their space.
Today making handprints in many colors on big sheets of paper with one of the teachers overseeing is a popular activity. But each child is free to pursue whatever activities he /she chooses; the only requirement is that each child cleans up and puts materials back in its place on bookshelf storage before starting something new. The children are amazingly good about working neatly and always picking up with out being reminded.
Children love painting at the easel, marching around the classroom playing our rhythm band instruments as a group, or singing along with CDs of children’s songs. We have an almost infinite number of games using Khmer and Roman alphabets and numbers, and books galore. Art materials are available, from sidewalk chalk to markers, to several kinds of paints. The school atmosphere is really bubbling with happy kids, and, when they approach 1st grade, they are already way ahead of most Cambodian counterparts.