Soukdalone ‘Lon’ Phommathep was born and raised in Vientiane Capital, Laos. She grew up in a family that prioritised education, however, her family was not wealthy and sometimes the options for education were limited. A talented student with a bright future ahead of her, Lon was successful in applying for an Australia Awards Scholarship and in 2016 travelled to Melbourne, Australia to complete a Bachelor of Education (Primary) at Monash University.
This experience was life changing as Lon explains. “An education degree from Australia has helped to shape who I am today. I returned home at the beginning of 2017 with a fresh and new perspective on various things such as the way of thinking, culture, language skills, education approaches and a willingness to make a positive impact on society.”
Lon used this new perspective and her new skills to start the Lab Langban school in Vientiane. It’s inspired by the ‘Reggio Emilia’ tradition of play based learning for pre-school and primary age children and as the principal of the school, it allows Lon to share her passion and creativity with the children and staff.
Seeing the children’s smiling faces showing and sharing their excitement in learning and accomplishing projects warmed her heart. Lon says, “it is such a rewarding career that you know you are making a difference in every step you take”. She feels amazing that she and her team are giving learning experiences to students that will last for the rest of their life. Lon enjoys leading by example and inspiring her team to take on leadership roles.
For Lon, National Teachers’ Day is a day to recognise the teachers who inspire, enlighten, and motivate others. At the same time, Lon wants to ensure that teachers receive the support they need to do their job well and that is way she has worked in education policy reform and has helped to train teachers to implement the new national primary curriculum.
Finally, Lon has useful advice for Lao students who want to pursue a career as a teacher. “Did you have a teacher who made a difference? Do you remember how heart-warming it was? Please keep that moment in mind. Becoming a teacher who is willing to make a positive impact to people’s life is such a rewarding career. Education is such an important part in everyone’s lives and without the help of teachers, most would not be where they are today in their careers and accomplishments.”