Emily SmithSchool Director
Emily joined L’Ecole Française du Maine in 2018 to assist the Office Manager part-time and immediately demonstrated a capacity for running an efficient school office. She took on the role of Office Manager soon afterward, and starting in 2020; she will be increasing her responsibilities as Childcare Director and Office Manager. In this role, Emily takes charge of the day-to-day operations, and she is the lead person for all protocols, school records, and school licensing compliance. Her college internships in office management roles at various healthcare and childcare facilities in NYC helped her find employment as Office Manager at local tutoring center Affect Academics, where she continues to gain integral communication and business management skills. Emily is the point person for daily communication; she answers the phone and emails- relaying information between the teachers and families and making connections. She assists with scheduling conflicts, organizing special events & admission inquiries, and she fulfills the vital role of providing a band-aid and a smile when a child gets a boo-boo! It takes an exceptional person to run a school office, and Emily is just that kind of person. The School is excited to see Emily’s role in the school continue to grow: in addition to running the school office, Emily continues to teach Yoga at the school, her passion, and perhaps her secret to running the office so smoothly!
Laura PiehlDirector of DELF/DALF Program
Laura joined the faculty of L’Ecole Française du Maine in 2008 and has been a valued member of the School ever since, teaching in several classrooms and ultimately leading the school’s DELF Program that helps our graduates maintain their proficiency in French beyond EFDM. Laura was born in Aubagne, in the south of France. She grew up in Castellet, a small village in the Var County. After earning her Baccalauréat Degree (French High School Equivalent), she went on to complete an Associate’s Degree in business. Her cultural awareness and understanding were reinforced by her travels around the world, to the US, Canada, Australia, New Caledonia, and France. Laura got her first taste of teaching when she tutored middle school students in their homes and realized right away this was to be her vocation. She enrolled in a teacher preparatory program and concentrated her studies on speech therapy where she worked individually with several children of various ages. Laura finished her Bachelor’s of Science degree in education at L’Université d’Aix en Provence. She continued on for one year to the IUFM (teacher training school) in Avignon. Anxious to put her newly acquired skills to work in the classroom, she began working as a long-term replacement teacher for private schools in the area. She taught many grade levels in several schools throughout the Bouches du Rhône area through this position and was assigned full responsibility of a class almost immediately. Laura worked diligently to follow the French national curriculum closely and respect each child’s learning needs. Finding her pleasure in teaching, Laura decided to combine her two favorite things, teaching and cultural exchange, which, to the good fortune of EFDM, ultimately brought Laura to the teaching team at L’Ecole Française du Maine.
What’s next? The question then becomes: “Where do they go from here and how can they maintain their French beyond their time at L’Ecole?”
DELF: That is where our DELF program comes in, providing our students, with their advanced abilities in French, to continue speaking and writing French, to continue to progress, at their level, something not available elsewhere in the area. Our DELF certified staff guide the students through the achievement of diplomas issued by The French Ministry of Education. EFDM has also become an official testing Center for DELF, alleviating the previous need to travel to Boston to take the DELF exams. Our program is the only accredited DELF program north of Boston!
For more information on our DELF Program, please contact Laura Piehl at DELF@frenchschool.me
Elizabeth LeBihanFounder and Director of Admissions
Elizabeth grew up in Maine and earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington, with a concentration in Visual and Performing Arts. In college, Beth studied modern dance and choreography and was a member of the modern dance company, The UMF Dancers, for four years. She also attended University College Galway, Ireland as an exchange student, where she reconnected with her family there and met her husband, Willy, a graduate student at the time. She began her career teaching grades 5,6, and 7 in Maine public schools, where she volunteered to teach French after school, as there was no foreign language opportunity offered for the students. After five years, Beth and her husband, Willy, decided to start a family of their own. She left the self-contained classroom to teach privately in order to meet both her professional goals and childcare needs. In their bilingual household, the ability for their own children to speak both French and English came naturally, and this sparked the beginning of a French-immersion program for Maine children. Inspired by the world-renowned Early Childhood program of Les ecoles maternelles in France, the wheels were set in motion for an adventure that would go on to become L’Ecole Française du Maine. With two small children and one on the way, Beth taught by day and studied evenings and weekends to earn her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education/Child Development through the University of Phoenix. This experience increased her love of early education and fueled her desire to offer Maine children a valuable foundation for learning, beginning at an early age. She has worked in education for 25 years filling many different positions. During her first year as a classroom teacher, Elizabeth received a national teaching award, being named as “One of the Nation’s 100 Best First-Year Teachers.” She was Maine’s only recipient. In 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Palmes Académiques, a Knighthood Order of Chivalry of France presented to academics and educators. The order was originally created by Napoleon. Beth is fluent in French and has raised her children to be bilingual. When not at school, she enjoys reading (with a cat on her lap and dog at her feet), gardening, knitting, boating, taking walks in the woods and on the beach and spending time with her family.