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.

        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.

                  Enrico Bellini

                  Enrico was born and raised in the north of Italy, near Garda Lake, and has spent time living and working in different countries. He loves to learn and try new things and is extremely keen on experiencing different ways of life and thinking. As an Italian teacher, he has received solid training and has significant professional experience teaching at all levels. He tailors his classes to the students’ needs, goals, and learning styles and at the same time creates a relaxed and enjoyable environment to allow each student to learn more effectively.

                    Sara Boi

                    My name is Sara and I am from Rome, Italy. For the last 4 years I have been teaching Italian language to students in a top 3 Pontifical University in Rome, Italy. I was born in Rome, Italy and graduated with honors from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, with a degree in Asian Studies and Cultures. I hold a Master in Teaching Italian Language: Didactic Methods and Techniques. I also have Ditals II, Teaching Italian as a Foreign language Certification. After a teacher training at Dilit International House, in 2015, in Rome, I started to adopt a fully communicative approach to the teaching of Italian, and the approach is being up-dated all the time. During my class language is never presented out of context; and grammar, phonology, lexis and all other features of actual language use in everyday situations are analyzed. I’m an enthusiastic Italian teacher dedicated to creating an enjoyable, inviting and dynamic learning atmosphere. Implements traditional and innovative methods to motivate students to learn the Italian language and understand Italian culture. I love travelling and my love for other countries lead me to Japan where I lived for almost one-year teaching Italian to Japanese adults by videoconference. The experience was fascinated and it widened my own horizon allowing me to improve the relationship between people of diverse cultures, languages and backgrounds. I spent almost one year in the United States, mastering the knowledge of English language studying at the University of Arkansas. It was a great experience that gave me the chance to work for Study Tours Company, as Educational Tour Leader in Dublin. I’m a food and art lover.

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

                          Lena Faber

                          Lena Faber was born in Russia and teaches Russian. She formerly was an associate professor at University of South Africa in the World Languages Department. She is also a former journalist for one of the leading Russian media sources “Moskovsky Komsomoletz” and an inflight magazine “Aeroflot,” and was a satellite TV short movie producer on driving techniques in extreme conditions. She was awarded for her weekly newspaper column “200000 km around Moscow,” which was published later by the major publishing house AST as a book with circulation of 15000 and sold out. She loves travelling, and calls herself an “adventure traveler of the world.”

                            Alain Ollier

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

                              Evalina Santaguida

                              Evalina 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.

                                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.