Mory Ouk

Mory Ouk

Mory Ouk pioneered education for Khmer speaking Cambodian immigrants in Long Beach and California. Before he was forced to flee his native Cambodia, he was a highly regarded school principal at Chenla Junior High School. Although Mory escaped the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, all of his transcripts and credentials were lost. To be able to hire Cambodian educators who had lost their credentials, Long Beach USD had the foresight to create Instructional Associate positions.

In 1982, Mory Ouk and Lay Kry were the first to hold those positions under Betty Seal, Director of the South East Asian Learners Project, LBUSD. Mory worked as an Instructional Associate, Khmer language translator, cultural broker, and expert advisor on Cambodian educational issues. He was joined by other Cambodian Instructional Associates, including Outey Khuon, who worked tirelessly with Mory to create Khmer language materials and provide teacher trainings throughout LA and Orange Counties. One of his most significant achievements was authoring the seminal Handbook for Khmer Speaking Students (1989) published by the California State Department of Education. Also in 1989, LBUSD was awarded a Title VII Federal Grant to initiate the first Cambodian bilingual program in the State coordinated by Paul Boyd- Batstone, Julianne Kendall, and Sharon Lazo Nakamoto. At that time, there were no certified Khmer speaking teachers in the country, let alone in California. Never less, with the expert guidance on Mory Ouk and a team of Cambodian Instructional Associates, the first transitional Khmer/ English bilingual program at Whittier, Willard, Lee, and Harte Elementary Schools was initiated in the State of California. This creative project was developed with credentialed teachers using Khmer speaking teacher aides. In 1991, the program was distinguished with the California Association of Bilingual Education’s (CABE) highest award. Mory was the backbone of the program and the leader of a wonderful team of Cambodian Instructional Associates including Lay Kry, Outey Khuon, Sedar Ly, Brian Vikram and Yon Pich. They provided cultural insight, direction, and materials to make it a success. He and Outey Khuon also trained Khmer speaking aides and classroom teachers.

Mory continued to work for LBUSD and consulted on Khmer language and Cambodian cultural issues related to education throughout California. Miraculously, in 1999, his transcripts were recovered, which allowed him to immediately enroll at CSU Dominguez Hills to obtain a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Education. As Mory worked at an accelerated pace, he earned both credential and MA degree in 2000 and was hired as a teacher in LBUSD. In addition to teaching at Whittier Elementary School, he was appointed as a Lecturer at CSULB in the Asian Bilingual Culture and Language Development (BCLAD) credential program for Khmer speaking teachers. Paul Boyd-Batstone was privileged to be one of his professors and one of his colleagues.

Mory had a personal dream to earn his Ph.D. and become a University Professor; but tragically his life was cut short by a malignant brain tumor. No one has contributed more to the educational advancement of Cambodian students than Mory Ouk. Mory passed away in 2004 at the age of 57, but his legacy lives on. This scholarship honors the memory of Mory and supports the continued advancement of the Cambodian educational community.

Mory Ouk is our honored teacher. He teaches us the meaning of education across culture, language, and national boundaries. We learn from him that these are not barriers; but rather other paths to understanding, other ways of knowing, and other places to be.
Mory teaches us that learning takes place everywhere. Learning takes place in war torn countries and in urban school districts, in refugee camps and in high tech classrooms, in homes and in gardens, in English and in Khmer.
Mory teaches us that commitment to education is a noble, life encompassing endeavor. We learn from him that to teach is a demanding, yet rewarding, vocation. We learn that the whole community benefits from a good teacher.
Mory teaches us that education is more powerful than ignorance, that the human cost of ignorance far exceeds the cost of education. We learn that when people are denied the right to be educated, they become disabled and destructive. We also learn that when, as a people, we apply the tools of knowledge and understanding, we achieve peace and harmony.
Mory teaches us the joy of learning. He shows us the brightness of insight, the lightness of laughter, and the affirmation of encouragement. We see his face and we understand.
Life sets down daunting obstacles and we watch in awe as Mory teaches us how to meet life’s greatest challenges.
Akuon, Mory. We thank you for being our dear friend and honored teacher.

Written by Paul Boyd-Batstone, Ph.D. and Outey Khuon, M.A. Ed.

The College of Education (CED) expresses gratitude to all scholarship donors who continue to enhance the quality of education students experience at CSULB.


The Mory Ouk Endowed Educational Award was established through a gift from Dr. Paul Boyd-Batstone and is awarded to College of Education students with outstanding academic credential that seek to advance the education of Khmer-speaking students. Applicants are asked to describe how they are currently working to advance education in the Cambodian community or their plans to do so as a result of their studies at CSULB. Work to advance education in the Cambodian community may include, but is not limited to the following: service learning projects, community development, research in education and/or health of Khmer speaking students and their families, curriculum development, in-school & after-school projects, and school/community partnerships. Priority consideration will be given to students enrolled in EDEL 434: Cambodian Culture, Education, and Diaspora (a CSULB Faculty-Led Study Aboard Course).