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.”
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.
Oak Campus 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.
Oak Campus Vice Principal
Dorothée Werner is a native of Paris, France, where she grew up and received a Bachelor’s degree from the Sorbonne University in English and International Business and a Master’s in International Studies. She earned a Master’s degree in school leadership from Baker University in May 2020 and is a certified K-12 building administrator.
Dorothée moved to Kansas City and taught French at Notre Dame de Sion for six years. She spent 15 years in the corporate sector in marketing, public relations and advertising, becoming vice-president and working with Fortune 500 companies. She worked from home when her children were in elementary school and opened The French School, teaching French to preschoolers and adults. She became involved in volunteer work both as PTA president in her children’s public schools, and as a refugee coordinator for local resettlement agencies. She joined Academie Lafayette in 2011 and taught 3rd, and then 5th grade for 10 years. She became an American citizen in July 2018. She is an active volunteer in Kansas City, serving as president of the Alliance Francaise de Kansas City, board member of KC MOlière: 400 in 2022, and involved in local efforts to support criminal justice reform.