Dianne B. Zemichael
Banjul American Embassy School
U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Schools
Banjul, the Gambia

Dianne Zemichael’s small school enrollment creates both challenges and advantages. With 55 pre-kindergarten through grade 8 students, Banjul American Embassy School must combine grade levels in classes. “This creates a challenge but it is also an asset for those students excelling,” says Zemichael. The mixed-grade classes also allow “students at any grade level to reach higher,” she adds. “Teachers consider the individual and help each one continue to progress.” As principal of Banjul American Embassy School for the past three years, Zemichael has nurtured a positive school climate by listening well and being approachable to students, staff members, and parents. She also has promoted high standards for student achievement and helped the school gain reaccreditation by guiding it in a self-study that included a curriculum review. She led a renovation of the school’s library after observing that the site had an outdated card catalog and old books. Zemichael has been a principal for 12 years, previously serving at an international school in Ethiopia. Her career accomplishments include working with professional staff across Africa to compile lesson plans for a book published for use by international schools. It suggests how to integrate the host country into a school’s curriculum and expose international students to local culture. She received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin at Stout and an M.Ed. from the College of New Jersey.