Amy grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and San Juan, Puerto Rico and has lived in MidCoast Maine off and on since 1984, finally settling in Thomaston in 2002. She has also lived in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic, and has travelled throughout Europe, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz and has a BA in Community Studies. She has worked at Camden Hills Regional High School as a Spanish Teacher since 2007. Prior to teaching at CHRHS, Amy was a social worker, working with immigrant families and gang affiliated youth in Santa Barbara, and homeless youth in Rockland. She is continuing to study Italian, and has also studied Portuguese. She is passionate about language learning, teaching and introducing the world to her students.
Amy has a daughter, Isabel, who is a 2019 graduate of Oceanside High School. During the 2015-2016 school year Amy took a leave of absence from her job to live in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico with Isabel, who is half Mexican. Amy wanted to give Isabel the opportunity to learn about Mexican culture and to get to know her heritage and her Mexican side of the family. While her daughter attended the local high school as a ninth grader, Amy taught at a language school, Cornerstone Idiomas, giving Spanish lessons to foreigners living in Barra. Additionally, she gave English lessons to locals, and ran a group for teenagers called, “Todos somos americanos” (We Are All Americans).
Amy has been connected to the Penobscot School since 1992 when she first took an Italian class. She has been the coordinator of two weekend Spanish Immersions at the school, and has volunteered with many other Spanish Immersions as well, including “Español en el bosque” at Tanglewood. She is excited to be a new board member and to contribute to a school that has been such an integral part of our community for so many years.
Dámaris Mayans grew up in Alicante, a touristic Mediterranean city, and the southernmost Catalan-Spanish bilingual area in the eastern coast of Spain. Growing up bilingual and in contact with many other European and northern African languages and cultures instilled in her a profound interest to study languages. She started studying German at an early age and later became interest in learning English. English, being a lingua franca for international communication, sparked her interest and she decided to move to Ireland where she lived for a year in order to improve her communication skills in English. Once she returned to Spain, she pursued a B.A in English Philology at the University of Alicante, Spain, spending her last year as an exchange student at Wilfried Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. In 2009, Dámaris was accepted at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, in the Master´s Degree program where she taught Spanish for 2 years and earned her M.A. in Spanish Linguistics along with a Certificate in Translation Studies. In 2011, she moved to Gainesville, Florida, where she completed her Ph. D in Spanish Linguistics and taught Spanish language and content courses as well as Linguistics courses for 7 years. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Colby College where she has taught Spanish language courses, a pronunciation lab, Spanish for medical purposes and Spanish for heritage speakers. Her research interests are heritage speakers of Spanish, bilingual acquisition, language contact and language processing. Her personal interests are travelling, cycling, water sports and anything outdoors far away from her computer.
Laura grew up in Southern Maine and attended Gorham schools. After high school, she completed her undergraduate degree at Fordham University in NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. During this time, she studied abroad for a year in Mendoza, Argentina, where she learned Spanish and discovered her love of learning about new languages and cultures. In Argentina, she directly enrolled in and took classes at an Argentine university and lived with a host family, which allowed her to completely immerse herself in the local community. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she attended the University of Maine School of Law and received her J.D., graduating summa cum laude. During law school, Laura focused a great deal of her attention on immigration law, where she worked with several non-profits. Currently, Laura is a partner at Camden Law LLP located in Camden, ME. She has a diverse law practice and takes on cases in the areas of criminal law, general civil litigation, immigration law, appellate law, and family law. In her free time, Laura enjoys running, yoga, reading, and traveling.
Penny has a long history of international and intercultural exchange. As a senior in high school her family hosted an exchange student, a young lady from Tehran, Iran, when little was known geographically or culturally of that country. Years later, Penny and her teenage daughter hosted exchange students from northern Lebanon and Brazil. She continues to be in contact with these
Penny adopted her daughter from Ecuador and, to assure that her daughter would know the language and culture of her origins, they later moved to live in Ecuador for 18 months. Upon returning and moving to Rockport, Maine, Penny and her daughter began hosting Penobscot School English Immersion students. They have since hosted over 20 adult students from Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Japan, Mongolia, Mali, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Mexico.
In her own appreciation for international connections, Penny initiated and implemented a ten-day service trip for twenty Camden Hills High School students. The group formed lasting international relationships and contributed efforts in building Ecuador’s first high school in the rainforest. She reconnected with several of the Ecuadorean English Immersion students who welcomed and generously shared their hospitality with the student group.
Penny has traveled to England, Scotland, Europe, Mexico, Ecuador and Thailand for both business and pleasure. An active member of her local Rotary Youth Exchange Committee, she has counseled incoming and outgoing students, and local host families. Penny continues to support education and entrepreneurial development in Ecuador through the Yachana Foundation.
Penny is grateful for the opportunities to connect with people and cultures of the world through the many offerings of Penobscot School. She has served on the school’s board for several years.