STARs in the News: Ketsana Phommalee

Ohio STAR Discovery Educator  Ketsana Phommalee  recently received her masters degree in Education Media Design and Technology through Full Sail University. She was named the recipient of the program’s Advanced Achievement Award for her academic excellence.

Ketsana’s story is pretty exceptional. Here’s what she shared about her journey:

My name is Ketsana Phommalee. I was born in a small village in Laos. I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, even when the school I attended was very poor. My “school” was actually just four poles holding up a weak roof. The students did not have chairs, desks, or books. We used slates and chalks that the teachers provided us for the day. I had to walk through a creepy, scary cemetery to get to school. I remember loving all my teachers. I would stay after school to clean for them. Since they lived right near the school, I would stop by and help pull weeds from their gardens, just so I could spend more time with them.

When I was eight years old, my family had to flee Laos because of political persecution. We had to live in the Thailand Refugee Camp for over two years.

I was eleven years old when I first learned to speak, write, and read my ABC’s. I have been a teacher for the past 16 years and I still can’t believe that I get paid for working with my students, helping them to love reading, writing, use technology and learning everyday. I can’t believe that I am living in America, the land of my dreams, but I am doing what I have always wanted to do-working with students and helping them find success in school and life!


I bet you’ve had adventures along your path. We want to know about them and share them. Have you been recognized in your local newspaper? Have you been published? Were you featured in an article or nominated for an award?  We know STAR Discovery Educators are doing amazing things, but we don’t always hear about it. So take a moment to toot your own horn. Tell us about it. We want to brag about you too!


  1. Nicole Tierney

    Congratulations Katie! You are my oldest and best friend and when we were in college undergrad you were always an inspiration for me– the AMAZING things you have overcome to get where you are is the best example you could set for anyone! I’m grateful for your friendship and accomplishments!!! Love u! Nic

    • Ketsana

      Thanks, Nic! You’re an inspiration to me everyday!

  2. Cynthia Madanski

    Ketsana, you are an inspiration. I loved teaching with you and sharing experiences with you in EMDT at Full Sail. So happy to see you recognized here for your accomplishments!

    • Ketsana

      Cindi, how we LOVE Full Sail! I’m honored to teach with you and to have gone through EMDT with you. You’re my hero.

  3. Marcus Howling

    So amazing Ketsana, you were a great partner and person, you really deserve this award.

    • Ketsana

      Thanks, Marcus. It was good working with you on the 48 hour film challenge! Good luck in the future.

  4. Rena J Hanaway

    Congrats, Ketsana!

  5. Kim Nagel

    Ketsana, you are an amazing woman. I am so honored to be your friend. Not only have you survived many obstacles in life but you have learned from them and excelled. You have a very lovely family and have done a wonderful job raising your children. I’m looking forward to traveling to Thailand with you next year. Congratulations on graduating in 11 months with a Masters Degree and at the top of your class. Wow!

  6. kirk wegener

    You’re such an amazing woman, such an inspiration to people everywhere. I would’ve never Bern able to get my GED without you congratulations.

    • Ketsana

      I’m glad I could be of help in getting your GED certificate. You’re worth it!

  7. Mr. Bear

    This story is so inspirational and I know the Ms. Phommalee is an exceptional, educated and all-around amazing person and mother!

    • Ketsana

      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it.

  8. Ketsana

    I’m glad I could be of help in getting your GED certificate. You’re worth it!

  9. Ketsana

    Thank you, Kim! Your kind words really touch my heart. You’re a great friend.

  10. PegBundyII

    Way to go!!! It was great to be in the DEN’s Rising Star program with you! Your story is inspirational!! Maybe we will both make it to DENSI 2013 and meet up in person!

  11. Max Brooks

    I met Ketsana in Ohio this past Fall. I could immediately tell that she was a passionate educator. Learning about the obstacles she has overcome to be where she is today is truly inspiring! So glad she is part of the DEN!

    • Ketsana

      Max, thank you so much for your kind words. I enjoyed meeting you, too! I hope to connect with you soon!
      I’m thrilled to be a part of the DEN family!

  12. Ketsana

    Definitely! It would be simply amazing! I already applied. We’re on our way.

  13. don

    you are wonderful thank you for the time we spent. a great teacher

Continuing the Discussion

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