Christopher S. Khaemba, 47, is currently Principal of Alliance Boys’ High School on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2006, Alliance was the highest performing school in Kenya on the KCSE secondary school examinations. A former military officer and physics teacher by training, Chris has served as a school leader for the past 12 years.
Chris began his career as a Mathematics and Physics teacher at Alliance High School in 1984 after leaving his position as an officer in the Kenya Air Force. Over the next fourteen years, Chris served in positions of increasing importance, including Housemaster, Careers Master, Senior Master, and Deputy Principal. In these positions, he guided curriculum implementation, coordinated university placements, and led a variety of co-curricular activities.
In 1995, Chris was called by the Kenyan government to lead Friends School Kamusinga, a once highly-regarded school that had slipped to 138th position on the Kenyan league tables. In just three years at Kamusinga, Chris implemented reforms that enabled substantial gains in academic and co-curricular performance, and when Chris left in 1998 the school was ranked among the top ten schools in Kenya. His successor at Kamusinga, Simon Nabukwesi, notes that when Chris arrived, the school had heavy debts, dilapidated facilities, and poor performance in both academic and co-curricular activities. Chris’ impact has been sustained, and in 2006 Kamusinga remained ranked 8th among all schools in the country. For his work at Kamusinga, Chris received the Distinguished Service Medal from the President of Kenya.
Having proven his leadership ability at Kamusinga, Chris was asked by the government to take over the Principalship at Alliance High School in 1998. In his 9+ years as Principal at Alliance, Chris has steered the school back to 1st position in the national academic rankings and has expanded enrollment by 25%. He raised $500,000 USD from private donors to construct and renovate Alliance facilities, and he has dramatically increased scholarship allotments for Alliance students from poor families.
As one Alliance governor wrote, Chris brings “indefatigable energy and commitment” to his role. Despite his myriad commitments as Principal he finds time to teach a math class each semester, and each Saturday he holds a “Principal’s Talk” with the full student body. He has traveled extensively in vacation periods to raise the profile of the school, establishing exchange programs with schools in the UK and USA and building deep relationships with colleges and universities overseas. For several years running, Alliance has successfully placed 20-30 boys from a wide variety of backgrounds into Ivy League universities in the United States. And four times, Chris has received a written commendation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One such commendation reads: “Each year we ask students to share with us the name of a teacher who has been especially influential in the student’s development. We congratulate you on being named again this year by John Gachora Mburu. More importantly we thank you for the time, patience, expertise, love, discipline, and all the other qualities which have had such an important impact on your students. You do the work from which we all benefit.”