Monirath was born and raised in Cambodia by a single mother who, despite being at the top of her class, was forced to withdraw from school due to financial pressures on her family. Moni’s mother loved learning and overcame numerous obstacles to ensure that Moni received a quality education so that his opportunities in life would not be limited. At the age of 16, Moni moved to the U.S. to live with his father in California. While it was difficult to leave Cambodia, relocating to U.S. provided Moni with the means to expand his academic potential.
First in his family to finish high school, Moni completed his B.A. at Washington University in St. Louis. This achievement is the result of a powerful community of teachers both in Cambodia and the U.S. who believed in him which motivated Moni to do the same for kids who share his background.
In 2012, he joined Teach For America and taught for two years as a high school biology and environmental science teacher in Camden, New Jersey. During this time, Moni earned an M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania. This solidified his commitment to use his leadership skills and education background to significantly impact the lives of his students and work towards sustainable, system-level change. He aspires to reduce the inequity that he faced, and that kids still face around the world.
Teaching successfully in a troubled community increased Moni’s resolve to start a program back home that would move the needle for kids in disadvantaged communities and give young aspiring leaders a clear role in shaping the future of their country. Leveraging a new approach, Moni intends to build a local force of leadership capacity that will work with the government, communities and the private sector to make long-term sustainable change.
Given his experiences growing up in Cambodia and attending six public schools, serving with Teach For America in a challenging context, and his academic background in education, Moni finds himself in a unique position to start Teach For Cambodia and dedicate his life to the mission of transforming public education in his country. In 2015, Teach For Cambodia became a registered local nonprofit in Cambodia.
Teach For Cambodia’s belief is that to create social change in Cambodia, we must build on the strengths of Cambodian people and to rebuild trust and solidarity. Moni invites all who are passionate about public education to be a part of Teach For Cambodia’s efforts.