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Rosette Donado-Correa Student at Sar-Cheshmeh International School October 26, 2016
I remember him with a full beard. David, as we called him, was always smiling. It was difficult calling your principal by their first name, but David was okay with that, and you can see how he loved his students. That's as much as I can remember about him, being seven years old. One of the most memorable, though, was that he scheduled our First Communion when a priest visited the mine site, and my sister and I, I was seven and she was nine, received our First Communion together. That was very special! You will be missed, David!
Lee Tarrant Student at Sar Cheshmeh 77-78 August 9, 2015

I dont have many memories from that time other than the school was a fantastic place to be and was really supportive of children. Occasionally over the years I have tried to find people who were there and never found any. If anyone reads this post and wants to get in touch then email me on I was also in the convoy of buses that travelled to Bandra Abbas but we travelled on to Bahrain and then on to the uk.
Betty Blair Colleague of Dave's in Iran in 1977-1978 April 9, 2013
Quite by accident I just Googled Dave Zakem's name and was shocked to learn that he passed away a few months ago. I met Dave at a Principal / Superintendents meeting in Thessaloniki Greece. I was teaching Middle School in Athens those years. He had just gone to Sar Cheshmeh, Iran, the year before to set up a school there for international community which was helping the Shah of Iran to establish one of the largest copper mining operations in the world.

Sar Cheshmeh was located in southern Iran about 10,000 feet up in the desert mountains, about 17 hours by bus south of Tehran and about three hours distance from Kerman and an hour from Rafsanjan. Classes at Sar Cheshmeh International School which operated out of International School system in Princeton, New Jersey, were small - approximately 10 in a class and Dave really placed a lot of emphasis on helping children develop to their fullest potential. Bureaucracy was minimal. His budget was significant - money from the Iranian government. The school went from Kindergarten up to grade 6, if I am remembering correctly. There were about 100 students and 20 faculty. He hired me as Director of the Media Center Director. So I left the big metropolis of Athens where I had been living for six years and went up to this very remote location in Iran. It felt like moving to the end of the earth. 

To tell you the truth, it was one of the greatest experiences in teaching that I ever had. Dave was a good leader. Sympathetic but firm. He liked to give teachers a lot of responsibility. Teachers were close knit. Kids were permitted to call us by our first names. We loved it. We were removed from everything it seemed. There was no television. No telephones. Only one supermarket, one central administration building for the mine. No entertainent. One piano in the whole town at the school. (Wasn't easy to get someone to tune the piano!!! We used to play our 8 track cassettes of 1970s music over and over. We teachers lived in small trailers that had two small bedrooms, a bathroom and open room that served as kitchen/ living room. 

Roads were dirt. The copper mine was just developing. Straight rows of houses were built up on streets named after Iranian flowers - like the Farsi names for Tulip, Violet, Daffodil, etc  

Dave really thrived in that situation. He was cool about creating new systems and dealing with cross cultural and cross language situation. He was approachable. He could deal with uncertainty. 

PErsonally, he helped me enormously - when my brother died in a plane crash and I had to get back to the States for the funeral. It was a rather complex situation because just to call the states, I had to go three hours down the mountain and call Tehran and friends there could call the states. Dave also helped me buy a motorcycle - Everybody had Yamaha 175 dirt bikes and that's how we got around in the community and how we rode off in small groups to neighboring villages.  

Dave left after his second year as principal there. So he would have served as principal at Sar Cheshmeh the school years of 1976 and 1977. He would have left around June 1978.

I stayed on the following year. We had a British "headmaster" the. Troubles developed in Tehran regarding the Shah and spread throughout the country. At Christmas 1978 most of the teachers had taken the whole year to go back to the states etc. The school never opened again after Christmas vacation. I stayed on and was evacuated with four bus loads of mine workers to the international airport in Bandar abbas. We flew to Dubai and made connecting flights for the world. We left Iran January 14, 1979, two days before the Shah left the country. Khomeini came to Iran three weeks later. And life has never been the same!

The mine has since re-opened and seems to be fully operational as one of the largest copper mines in the world now. It's possible to view photos by search on the Internet.  
Drew Herzig Mr. September 9, 2012
David was also my cousin. My mother was Lillian (maiden name Zakem), sister of Victor Zakem, David's father. David and I lost track of each other many years ago, and I am shocked and saddened, after running a Google search to try to find a way of getting in touch with him, to learn that he just died. A great loss to everyone. And one less person I could call family.
Tom Yonkovit FRIEND August 27, 2012
David and I grew up together on the same block in Grand Rapids Michigan and graduated Grand Rapids Catholic Central Together. David drove us to High School and made sure we paid the 50 cent fee every week. although we lost contact as we went through life we shared many fond memories in our formative years. Zak and Shared a were greatlot of growing up time together and the memories are fond and great. God has received you in his arms my old pal. MAY you finally rest in PEACE with HIM YONK
Total Memories: 7
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