Our three-campus system allows for dedicated administrative staff for different grade levels and needs.

Elimane Mbengue
Head of School

Elimane MBengue has been with Académie Lafayette as Head of School since 2012. Before joining Académie Lafayette, he served as a school administrator in a French immersion school accredited by the French government and a charter school in Portland, Oregon. He is an international educator with teaching experience in Africa, Europe and North America.

Mbengue was born and raised in Sénégal, West Africa. He graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Dakar as an Inspector of Education – school district administrator in the francophone system. He has a master’s degree and a DEA (advanced study degree) in English and American studies from Cheikh Anta Diop University. He also completed the Executive Development Program from the National Institute for School Leadership.

Mbengue received the award Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight in the Order of Academic Palms) from the Republic of France.

Dr. Maritza Paul
Armour Campus Principal

Dr. Paul was born in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, and grew up on the island of St. Kitts & Nevis, the birthplace of her mother. She earned a PhD in French Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has a master’s degree in both French and Education. She has been a French teacher in St. Kitts, New York and Kansas City, Kansas at levels ranging from middle school to university. She spent one year as an English Lecturer at l’Université de Bordeaux in France. Prior to joining Académie Lafayette in 2019, Dr. Paul served as principal in the Kansas City, Kansas School district. She is the mother of one son and she passionately enjoys gardening and reading. She is proud and honored to be a member of the Académie Lafayette family and looks forward to fulfill our mission for students “to become globally minded, locally active, critical thinkers”.

Heather Royce
Cherry Campus Principal

Prior to joining Académie Lafayette as the Cherry campus principal in 2011, Heather Royce earned a bachelor’s degree in French education, a master’s degree in school counseling, and did her doctoral coursework in education administration at The University of Kansas. She has prior experience as a French teacher, a special education teacher, an elementary and high school counselor, as well as an administrator. Heather jokes that she’s done every job possible in a school, except drive a bus! Heather is married with a son, as well as a large dog and a small cat. She enjoys running, doing yoga, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Leslie Houfaidi
Oak Campus Principal

Leslie Houfaidi fell in love with French as a young American living in Belgium. She was a dietitian for 15 years before finding she was meant to be a teacher. Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics & elementary education, a master’s degree in teaching and an EdSc (Education Specialist) in Administration Leadership in 2015. A true original, she has been at Académie Lafayette since its inception in 1999. After years of teaching 2nd grade and organizing and chaperoning many 6th grade trips to France, Leslie is now principal at the Oak campus. She works together with teachers as they share a common vision for student success. One of her favorite things to do is spend time with her 2 (and one on the way) grandchildren. Her hobbies include yoga (she is now a certified instructor), reading, canoeing, cooking, hiking, and cycling…and KU basketball.

Jean-Claude Diatta
Oak Campus Vice-Principal

Born, raised, and educated in Senegal, Jean-Claude Diatta earned a bachelor’s degree in English education and African literature, as well as a master’s in education at Cheikh Anta University. He worked as an administrative assistant and educator on human rights for Amnesty International in his native country, and he taught English (ESL) in middle school and high school. Upon joining Académie Lafayette in 2000, Jean-Claude taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade before becoming vice principal at the Cherry campus. While teaching at AL, Jean-Claude also earned his master’s in school leadership from the University of Central Missouri (2012). He was a dedicated Boy Scout leader for 22 years, and he enjoys nature, traveling, and photography.

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