About Us

Founded in 1986 as a non-profit language school and center for international exchange, Penobscot School is a unique community international school. Over the years, over six thousand locals and over 500 foreigners have advanced their foreign language skills at Penobscot School and have learned more about the world in the process.

Leslie Fillnow
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Leslie Fillnow’s career has taken her all over the world, including Latin America, Europe, Asia, and India. After graduating from Elmira College with a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics she  worked as a research and development engineer and received five patents in the area of lighting phosphor chemistry. She rose to be a marketing manager, a manufacturing superintendent and a plant manager with the Sylvania Company, including the Osram Sylvania Plant in Waldoboro.  Leslie then earned a Master in Business Administration from SUNY in Binghamton  NY and for the reminder of her career worked in business management holding leadership positions in many areas of lighting, including LED and specialty lighting for medical, aviation and entertainment applications. Leslie’s outstanding service to the Midcoast community includes being president of the Penobscot School, where she also studies and teaches Italian, a board member of Meals on Wheels and a member of the Camden Garden Club, Camden Rotary and the Camden Conference Development Committee.  Leslie and her husband, Bob, have been long time attendees of the Camden Conference and enjoy traveling internationally and visiting their children in the US.  Their goal is to see all of Maine with their chocolate lab.

Executive Director
Joan LeMole
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Joan grew up in Orono, Maine and earned her B.A. in Modern Languages (Spanish and German) after studying at Brandeis University and the University of Maine. She then earned her M.A. in French at Miami of Ohio. During this time, she taught French to undergraduate students and focused her own studies on literary theory. After earning a second masters in Counselor Education, Joan spent nineteen years as a mental health clinician.

During high school Joan was an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student to Patagonia, Argentina. During her undergraduate and graduate work, she lived in Dijon, France.  She has traveled extensively in parts of Europe and the Middle East. Joan has organized and led several student exchange programs.

Joan lives in Rockland, Maine with her husband and two sons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, swimming, puzzles of all sorts, travel, learning to play the violin, and attending her children’s activities. Joan currently serves as Penobscot School’s Executive Director, is a graduate of the Midcoast Leadership Academy and participates in Rotary. She is thrilled to return to her interest in languages, literature and culture.

Amanda AustinAmanda Austin
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Amanda Roberson Austin is an Architect and co-owner (with her husband, Bryan Austin) of 2A Architects in Rockport. Born in Michigan, she received her Bachelor’s degree at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI. Following her degree and the start of her professional career in Michigan, she continued her professional experience in the Seattle region and also received her Master of Architecture degree with a focus in Historic Preservation at University of Washington. She and Bryan enjoyed eight years of life in the beautiful Seattle region prior to finally pursuing their long-held dream of a life in Maine in 2009. Outside of her professional pursuits, Amanda’s main passions in life are cultural and creative – the enjoyment of music, art, crafting, food, and travel. With cultural understanding and enjoyment as its focus, she is proud to serve on the Penobscot Language School board. Amanda and Bryan live in Rockport, enjoying all the Midcoast has to offer with their Golden Retriever, Watson.

Penny Dunning
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Penny has a long history of international and intercultural exchange. This began in high school when her family hosted a young lady from Tehran, Iran, at a time when little was known geographically or culturally of that country. Years later, Penny and her teenage daughter hosted a young woman from northern Lebanon and later a boy from Brazil.

Penny adopted her daughter from Ecuador and, in an effort to assure that her daughter would know the language and culture of her origins, later moved to Ecuador for 18 months. After returning, Penny and her daughter moved to Rockport, Maine, and began hosting Penobscot School summer English Immersion students. They have since hosted over 20 adult students from Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Japan, Mongolia, Mali, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

As an offshoot of her own appreciation for international connections, Penny initiated and implemented a ten-day service trip for twenty Camden Hills High School students. Together the group formed lasting international relationships while developing Ecuador’s first high school in the rainforest. She has since reconnected with several of the Ecuadorean English Immersion students who so eagerly welcomed her and who generously shared their hospitality.

Penny has traveled to Europe, Central America, South America and Thailand for both business and pleasure. She has been an active member of Rotary Youth Exchange Committee by counseling incoming and outgoing students and by interacting with local host families. Penny has maintained continued support of the education and entrepreneurial development in Ecuador.

Penny has such gratitude for the opportunities to connect with the world through the many offerings of Penobscot School. She has served on the school’s board for several years.

Robert Falciani
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Bob is a mechanical engineer with degrees in engineering and business administration from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Northeastern University. He has been the project manager for several facilities located worldwide. Bob currently serves as Assistant Professor at the Wentworth Institute of Technology where he instructs students in the fields of business, building mechanical and electrical systems and statistics.

Bob was born in Boston and raised in Quincy. He has two adult children living with their families in Massachusetts and Los Angeles. He lives with his wife, Diana, in Northport. Aside from work, Bob studies Italian and finds that learning the language of other countries helps him to better understand various cultures and peoples.

Scott Rackliff

Scott Rackliff
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Scott is a software developer and technology expert who currently serves as co-founder and chief technology officer at Owls Head Solutions in South Thomaston, Maine. He earned degrees in psychology and sociology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

A frequent traveler to Japan, Scott is a student of Japanese at Penobscot School. He and his wife, Kate, have spent extended time in Japan and have consequently developed a deep appreciation for Japanese culture and cuisine. Scott volunteers for Rock Coast Rollers Roller Derby and enjoys gardening. Although not a native of Maine, Scott’s family association with Maine goes back over 200 years.

David Robichaud
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David was born and raised in Michigan and summered in Maine from age four until locating here in 1984. He opened 51 Bayview Street in Camden, a shop with fine gifts, home furnishings, nautical accessories and florals. Event and wedding planning, interior design, and combining new and antique furnishings eventually became areas of interest as David began orchestrating lavish events for both private and corporate entities. This love of design led him to travel in France, Italy, England, Holland and Belgium.

In turn, travels increased David’s appetite for language learning and food. He therefore launched Summersport Mercantile, an antiques and design consulting business. Here David established and created wedding formats, menus and services for Point Lookout Resort before moving on to managing, and ultimately owning, Cappys Chowder House. His efforts to rebrand and expand the restaurant, and to refine the menu with a focus on local, farmed-raised products, contributed to Cappy’s becoming a respected establishment in Camden, Maine.

David resides in Appleton where he is surrounded by gardens, woods and meadows. He enjoys antiques, animals and friends.

Frank Toole
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Frank is a retired attorney having practiced estate and trust, real estate and business law in Pennsylvania for 40 years. Since moving to Camden from Pennsylvania 15 years ago, he has been active in his new community, serving a number of non-profit and municipal service groups. Frank has been studying Italian at the School for the past 5 years. He enjoys the challenge of learning a new language and the friendship of his classmates. He and his wife, Nancy, have traveled extensively. While preparing for their travels, they enjoy learning the history, literature and culture of the places they visit. They continue to communicate with friends whom they`ve met in Germany, Ireland and Spain. Frank and Nancy relocated to Maine to be near their daughter and grandchildren who live in Bangor.

Christiana Adams

Christiana Adams has years of experience directing and conducting instruction in business communications and executive skills. She has facilitated workshops on effective meetings, presentations, interviewing and human resource management. She has recruited, lead and managed a team of English language instructors for Airbus in both Nantes and St. Nazaire, France. Ms. Adams is fully certified to teach English as a Foreign Language.

    Clovis Anjard

    Clovis Anjard is a native of Normandy, France but grew up on the French island of Reunion, near Madagascar. He loves sharing his experience of French multiculturalism through personal anecdotes as well as regional customs and recipes. In addition to instructing at Penobscot Language School in the past, Clovis has taught French in middle school, high school, and at the University of Georgia. Clovis lives in Owl’s Head with his wife and daughter and enjoys hiking, camping, and other outdoors activities.

      João Bentes

      João Bentes is originally from Setúbal, Portugal. He studied architecture in Lisbon and later earned a masters in architecture. João has since worked and lived in Italy, The Netherlands and Germany. He served as a bike messenger, radio broadcaster for Radio Tijolo de Prata and editor and reporter for the Pedal. He speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and a bit of French and is currently pursuing his interest in boats through the Apprenticeshop in Rockland.

        Silvia Carrier

        Born and raised in Germany, Silvia received her college degree in architecture in Dortmund, Germany and practiced architecture both in Germany and the United States before pursuing and receiving a teaching certification in German and Art. Silvia has taught various levels of German to students and adults. She travels to Germany and Italy regularly to visit family.

          Sachiko Clough

          Sachiko Clough is originally from Osaka. B.A. German, Kyoto University of Foreign Language Studies. She is a certified Japanese language teacher and also holds licenses in Ikebana and Japanese tea ceremony.

            Leslie Fillnow

            Leslie’s love for Italian language and culture started in the kitchen where her Italian grandmother rolled meatballs and made soppressatta (dried sausage). Grapes were harvested in the family wine cellar while a separate cellar housed hanging cheeses and was used to cure meats. Leslie now makes annual trips to Italy where she visits her sister and attends Italian immersion courses. She continues her studies throughout the year at Penobscot School and recently hosted an English Immersion student from Italy with whom she converses weekly.

              Lee Humphreys

              Lee Humphreys received her training as a teacher of English as a Second Language at the Boston Language Institute. She holds university degrees in Music and in Environmental Policy. During the winter she teaches English at CELEP, Center for Language and Ecotours of Patzcuaro, in Mexico. Lee has worked as an environmental educator In Maine, taught flute and chamber music at Bates and Colby Colleges and has been a member of orchestras in the United States,Venezuela and Hong Kong. Hiking, playing music, reading and meeting people from other countries are all things Lee enjoys. Lee looks forward to summers in Maine and finds it “…incredibly gratifying to see the improvement and the confidence students gain in (Penobscot School’s) English immersion.”

                Kathy Klug

                Kathy is an educator with over sixteen years teaching experience at the elementary and middle school levels. She holds a Bachelors in Education /Biology and earned her English as a Second Language (ESL) certification at Rider University from the Graduate Level ESL program. Kathy currently teaches ESL in Princeton, NJ and serves as an independent ESL contractor.

                Kathy believes in providing an individual program that best helps her students build confidence and achieve success.  When not teaching, she enjoys cooking, traveling and keeping fit at the gym.

                  Nadia Margolis

                  Nadia Margolis was born in France, raised in the US and educated in the US and in France during her college (B. A. at U of NH, U of Dijon) and graduate school (Ph.D. at Stanford, U. of Paris) years. She has often traveled to France for research and to give lectures and papers on medieval French literature and also on Joan of Arc through the ages in history, literature and film. She has taught all levels and centuries of French language, literature and cultural history, and recently retired from Mount Holyoke College.

                    Elizabeth Mendoza

                    A native of Mexico City, Elizabeth Mendoza lived in several parts of her country prior to moving to the United States. While in Mexico, she earned her degree in Business Administration and went on to teach Spanish in grades K-4, English to preschoolers and Spanish, History and Math to high school students. Elizabeth believes in learning by doing and is pleased to bring her creative energy to her work with children.

                      Alain Ollier

                      Alain Ollier has recently relocated from Paris to Midcoast Maine. His interests include organic gardening and hockey. Alain has traveled extensively and is excited to share the language and culture of his homeland.

                        Owen Page

                        Owen is originally from Normandy, France and moved to the Washington D.C. area at the age of twelve where he attended a French school. He then attended McGill University in Montreal where he served as a teaching assistant and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Owen is currently at the Apprenticeshop in Rockland and looks forward to teaching the language of his native country.

                          Adrián Arias Palomo

                          Adrián was born and grew up in Cuenca, Spain. He studied Law and Business in Madrid and then worked there as an auditor and budget manager before moving to the US. He lived in Boston for three years, where he taught Spanish to adults and teenagers. He now lives in Veazie, Maine with his wife and their three sons, where he enjoys the outdoors and painting.

                            Fulvia Samelli

                            Fulvia Sarnelli

                            A native of Naples, Italy, Fulvia Sarnelli recently served as a teaching assistant at Bowdoin College. Along with her native tongue of Italian, Fulvia is fluent in English and Chinese. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and is resourceful, fun and engaging!

                              Joellen Silver

                              Joellenne was born and raised in the Caribbean on the island of Puerto Rico. Later, she moved to Spain where she earned a master’s degree in Film Direction. She currently resides in Maine, which has proven to be a quiet but compelling place to write and develop personal projects. She has taught film and photo workshops in Barcelona and worked at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport.

                                William Smith

                                Billy Smith travels to República Dominicana each year to visit with his many cousins. The maternal side of his family goes back to Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca. Ever improving in his speaking and deep knowledge of the nuances of the Spanish language, Billy considers being bilingual a practice, not an accomplishment. He holds the Diploma en Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) from the Ministry of Education of Spain. Billy's interest in the language also extends to his love of the arts. With a focus on pronunciation, Billy's instruction assist students in moving past the barriers to clear and accurate Spanish speaking.

                                  Margot Stiassni-Sieracki

                                  Margot Stiassni-Sieracki holds degrees in French from Williams College and Stanford University. Her 20+ years of teaching of French to adults and children include using music, dramatic role play and immersion techniques. Margot strives to help her students actively experience French and Francophone cultures. She brings fresh ideas back from her recent summer travels in France and Quebec. (Not teaching Fall, 2017)

                                    Toshie Tesler

                                    Toshie Tesler, a native of Kobe, Japan, lives with her artist husband in Rockland, Maine. Toshie is a graduate of both Boston University and Bentley College and is a certified public accountant. She is well schooled in Japanese art and culture with certificates in Tea Ceremony and Ikebana. Her two children are also in the area, both currently serving in the United States Coast Guard. (Not teaching Fall, 2017)

                                      Nanfei Wang

                                      Born in the Tonghua City, Jilin Province, People's Republic of China, Nanfei is a trained artist with a fine arts degree from Northeast Normal University, Changchun, Jilin, and a MFA in painting, drawing and sculpture from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Nanfei has taught at Penosbcot Language School for several years and was recently an instructor at the school's Culture Camp for Kids.