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’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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.