About Us

Founded in 1986 as a non-profit language school and center for international exchange, Penobscot Language 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 Language School and have learned more about the world in the process.

Laura Shaw

Laura Shaw

Board President

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.

    Amanda Roberson Austin

    Amanda Roberson Austin

    Amanda 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.

      Matt Burke

      Matt Burke

      Matt Burke is a marketing consultant for technology and biotech companies. Prior to that he ran marketing and PR programs primarily at tech startups and in venture capital. Matt has also helped raise awareness and funds for non-profits in pediatric cancer research and urban youth services through volunteer marketing roles. He travels to other countries as much as he can, exploring the roads less traveled and learning about different cultures.

        Penny Dunning

        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
        "family" members

        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.

        Amy Ferlauto

        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.

          Leslie Filnow

          Promoting positive Community and a healthy way of living.

          Leslie retired from a long career as an engineer and a Manager for a lighting company.  She has always had a passion for helping people to improve their lives and has a deep sense of responsibility towards all living beings and the environment.   She is passionate about food and has taught several cooking classes.  Her love for hot yoga has led her to become a trained yoga instructor.  She has a strong belief that if you can form a good relationship with your anxiety and problems in your life, you can lead a very happy and healthy life.  She is a member of the Camden Rotary, a board member and member of the development committee of the Camden Conference and serves on the Education Committee of the Farnsworth.

            Chris MacLean

            Chris grew up in central Maine. His passion for languages and international cultural exchange was awakened in high school when he joined the American Field Service (AFS) club and participated in a summer abroad program in Spain. Since then, Chris has lived and traveled extensively in Spain, France, and England. Chris speaks French and Spanish.

            For the last 23 years, Chris has been an attorney in midcoast Maine and has been deeply involved in the community. He served as chair of the Camden Planning Board for many years, he was a long-time member of the West Bay Rotary Club, he has coached the CHRHS mock trial team, and he was recently elected to serve on the Camden Charter Commission.

            In his free time, Chris can be found playing softball, training for his next triathlon, hiking, and traveling. He plans to travel to Tanzania in October to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He has begun studying Swahili in advance of the trip.

              Jan Morrill

              Jan grew up near Bangor and moved back to Maine in 2013. While away, she studied Spanish and Latin American studies at Grinnell College, including a semester in Ecuador, worked in a number of bilingual settings in Minneapolis and lived in El Salvador for about five years. She spent her time in El Salvador learning about community organizing, water rights and democratic self-governance from organized communities in rural areas. She is currently the Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Maine Mobile Health Program (MMHP), a statewide mobile health center serving migrant and seasonal workers. She is excited to be able to speak Spanish regularly in her work and is attempting to learn Haitian Creole at a functional level.

                Pat O’Brien

                After a 35 year career in the Printing and Packaging industry, which afforded him the opportunity to travel globally as a business development manager, Pat joined his wife Nancy’s business in 2009 as Director of Marketing. FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars, allows Pat and Nancy the opportunity to embrace the people and cultures of Northern and Southern hemisphere producers of extra virgin olive oils as well as producers of balsamic vinegars located in Modena, Italy.  Pat has been a student of Italian at PLS for the past 8 years affording him the opportunity to communicate with his Italian suppliers in person, via email and in frequent live conversation. Pat is Chair of the Marketing Committee for the school.

                  Dana Strout

                  Dana Strout has been a long time student and board member at the Penobscot School, as well as serving as its President for several years.  He is on his third tour of being a board member and is committed to helping the school.  He speaks French, Italian and Spanish, all of which he learned at the school over the past twenty years.  He practices law locally when not involved with school activities.

                    Clovis Anjard

                    Clovis Anjard is from Normandy, France and moved to the French island of Reunion when he was 10 years old. He earned a B.A. in English and a Master's degree in intercultural studies with a focus on English and American studies, then participated in a teach abroad program that led him to Penobscot Language School 10 years ago.  Clovis was an instructor at the University of Georgia for two years, and has since moved back to the midcoast. Outside of the classroom and work, he enjoys hiking, camping, and cooking foods from all horizons.

                      Nayara Carrilho

                      Nayara is a journalist, actress, TV & Cinema producer, mother, and is passionate about teaching the Portuguese language. Born in the state of Rio de Janeiro where she studied journalism and performing arts, she also worked as a reporter for some newscasts in Rio. She worked as a Marketing Analyst at a German company, where she had the opportunity to live in Hong Kong for 4 months, and travel to Thailand, Italy, Colombia and other countries with the purpose of assisting her co-workers in communicating English to Portuguese and vice versa. Nayara lives with her family in California, in the United States for 6 years. She is excited to join the team at Penobscot Language School to teach Portuguese language and Brazilian culture!

                        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.  In addition to her work at Penobscot Language School, Sachiko currently teachers in RSU 2.

                          Stephanie De La Hoz

                          Stephanie De La Hoz was born in the Philippines and fluently speaks English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog. Stephanie earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Florida International University in Miami, Florida and has taught foreign languages (Spanish/Italian) at private and public high schools. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia for 2.5 years where she trained foreign language teachers and she’s currently in the process of opening her own nonprofit to continue supporting schools there. She now lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband and 5-month old daughter.

                            Anna Mordik

                            Anna was born and raised in Russia where she studied the English and Korean languages at the Kazan Federal University. Anna has traveled to almost all of Europe, Eastern Asia and Ukraine. During college she spent a semester in Korea studying a diverse culture and language. Anna been in the United States since early 2019 where she fell in love and got married. She has been immersed into American culture and is looking forward to learn more about it. She a happy outgoing person who loves to help others and teach.

                              Eleonora Mella

                              Eleonora Mella taught all levels of Italian at Penobscot Language School in 2012-13 and has recently taught at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. She studied foreign languages at the University of Padova and can speak English, German and basic Spanish and Norwegian.

                                Evelina Santaguida

                                Evelina Santaguida has her own Italian Language School in Orvieto (in the beautiful region of Umbria) where she has developed an innovative and creative method to teach Italian to foreign students of all levels. Students are guided along a path that leads them to learn Italian by using teaching aids such as video clips, oral understanding, role play, games related to some specific themes in Italian culture: cuisine, cinema, music, art. The atmosphere is always warm and relaxed as student enjoyment is her priority in the learning process. So not only will students acquire solid grammar and language concepts with her method but they will also develop a strong link between theory and practice to learn the language in the best possible way.

                                  Silvia Senosk

                                  Silvia Senosk is a French and Spanish instructor and interpreter. A venturesome spirit, originally from Mexico City, she has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, the US, and numerous other countries, honing her linguistic skills and eventually settling in Burgundy (France) in 2017 for work and studies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Translation & Interpreting at Universidad Tecnologica Americana in Mexico City and a DELF (Diplôme d'études en langue française) certificate. When she is not working with students at Penobscot Language School she enjoys dancing salsa, doing yoga, watching horror movies, going to museums and attending concerts and events. She has been living in Maine since 2019.

                                    Nadia Smith

                                    Despite being a Maine native, Nadia Smith has been speaking French with near fluency from a young age.  Her two younger brothers and father are from Caen, France, and having to communicate only in French with her monolingual brothers has shaped her precise pronunciation. She has furthered her fluency in French by spending summers in Caen with her family for several years, working as an au pair for children in Tours, France, and regularly visiting family in Normandie for holidays.  She previously taught English as an ESL teacher in Tours, France, where she was able to develop her teaching skills. Nadia also speaks fluent German and studied at Goethe Intitut auf München in Munich, Germany.

                                      William Smith

                                      Billy Smith's family goes back to the Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca.  He travels to República Dominicana each year to visit with relatives.  Billy considers being bilingual a practice that is continually evolving. He holds the Diploma en Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) from the Ministry of Education of Spain. In his teaching, Billy assists students to become clear and accurate speakers.

                                        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.

                                          Jared McCannell – Executive Director

                                          Jared McCannell, CVA is a career nonprofit professional who brings expertise in both Volunteer Management and Fundraising to the board of Penobscot Language School. He studied language and culture in college and completed a BA degree in Spanish at San Diego State University. Jared first developed an interest in intercultural exchange participating in a host family program at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine where he attended high school and met lifelong friends from all over the world and across the US. Jared has traveled, worked and studied extensively in Spain and aspires to complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage someday.