Our Faculty

Penellope Cote, MSEd, MA, BA
Executive Director/Owner
Penellope Cote, MSEd, MA, BA
Subjects: Apprenticeship, English, Mathematics, Omnibus, Religious Studies, Science, Social Studies, Study Skills, US History

I have owned the school since April 2013. I schooled my own children beginning in 1991: Sarah has a PhD, my son Seth has a full-time career in the United States Army, and my daughter Rachel, has an MA in Counter Terrorism.

I love children and love enabling them to gain the confidence to learn.


  • Achievement and motivation
  • Working with students with anxiety
  • Mentoring

  • Associates Law Enforcement, University of Maine, 1978
  • BA Humanities, Southern New Hampshire University, 2005
  • MA International History, Staffordshire University, England, 2011
  • MS  Psychology, Walden University, 2016


  • American Psychological Association, Associate Member

Daniel Cote, MBA, MA, BSEd, CPCU
Daniel Cote, MBA, MA, BSEd, CPCU
Subjects: Apprenticeship, Career Study, Foreign Language, Study Skills, Work Study

I love learning! Each day is a new opportunity to grow a little more, gain insights into a new topic or simply observe and soak it all in! The more I learn, the more I get excited about new possibilities! To truly enjoy life is to be ravenous about learning more!


Teaching business people the principles of

  • Risk management
  • Leadership development, and
  • Workplace safety


  • BA in Industrial Education & Technology, University of Southern Maine, 1980
  • MS in Occupational Safety & Health, Illinois State University, 1983
  • MBA in Business Administration, Southern New Hampshire University, 2007
  • CPCU Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, 2009


  • Industry leader in Loss Prevention
  • Nationally recognized authority in the safety and health arena


  • Served as Sr. Vice President, Safety Consulting for 17 years at MEMIC Insurance Company in Portland, Maine
  • Served as adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine
  • Served as industry liaison to the University’s Industrial Technology Department


  • UL CRP Property Certified Risk Professional 2015
  • Insurance Performance Association, Six Sigma & Operational Excellence, 2004
  • University of Chicago Graduate School of Business on Corporate Strategy, 2003
  • Wharton Executive Development Program, 2000
  • OSHA 10 & 30 hour Construction Instructor

Rachel Booth, MA, BA
Rachel Booth, MA, BA
Subjects: Foreign Language, Social Studies, US History

I absolutely love history and international politics! I also enjoy anything outdoors like hiking, fishing, horseback riding or winter sports. I have three cats and most likely the students will end up meeting them during our classes because my cats love to walk on the computer. I truly enjoy teaching and look forward to seeing the students excel in their education. 


  • International politics/law
  • Counter-terrorism
  • History

  • BA in Studies of War and Peace. Norwich University, 2010-2014
  • MA in Diplomacy and International Terrorism, 2015-2017
  • Presently working on PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Colby Cormier
Computer Instructor
Colby Cormier
Subjects: Computer Coding, Science

Colby Cormier is a game developer from New Gloucester, Maine. He was self-taught from around 2016 until 2021, when he began studying for a degree in Game Design and Development at Rochester Institute of Technology. Other than games, he enjoys animation, drawing, and adding cats to projects where ever possible.

Game Development with Game Maker Studio: "This course will introduce concepts and practices involved with video game development, such as game programming, game art, and game design theory through the free program Game Maker Studio 2. Students will learn to apply concepts from class to their own work, and produce playable game projects.This course will also cover a general overview of the history of game development, and its evolution."

2D Animation: "This course will offer an introduction and overview of the process of producing 2D animations by hand, and introducing techniques of the 12 Principles of Animation, such as squash and stretch, staging, and exaggeration, which will be applied to various practical animations throughout the course. Students will also cover the history of animation, and its techniques, and review them by studying animations from throughout the decades."

Skip Crosby, MA, BSEd, BA
Skip Crosby, MA, BSEd, BA
Subjects: Foreign Language

I have been teaching Spanish in public high schools for 27 years. I gained proficiency in the Spanish language during a two year stay in Colombia after college and has a certificate of Spanish study from the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia in 2014. I live in Poland, Maine with my wife of 25 years, Beth, my 17-year old son, Gabe, and Lexi, our 9.25 pound Mini Dachshund.

Gabe is heading off to Thomas College in the fall where he will study Elementary Education. My family and I are huge fans of baseball and spend as much time watching and talking about baseball as possible. 


  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Latin American Culture
  • Safe Passage – Guatemala City, Guatemala

  • MA, Spanish, Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont, 1998
  • BSEd,Secondary Education, University of Maine at Farmington, Farmington, Maine, 1990
  • BA, Political Science (minor in Economics) Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts, 1984
  • Certificate of Completion - Spanish Course, La Javeriana, Bogotá Colombia, 1987

Since 2012, I have taken 3 groups of students to Guatemala City to work with the children of the families of the dump and to support the work of Safe Passage. I am thrilled to be planning for the fourth groups that will travel again in 2020. Find more information about Safe Passage here: https://www.safepassage.org/

  • ACTFL - American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language
  • FLAME - Foreign Language Association of Maine
  • MSTOYA - Maine State Teacher of the Year Association

  • 2015 Northeast Conference Foreign Language Teacher of the Year - FINALIST
  • 2015 Maine Foreign Language Teacher of the Year
  • 2014 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year
  • 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year - FINALIST

    National Board Certified 

Ashley McBrierty
Music, ASL, Acting
Ashley McBrierty
Ashley McBreairty is a junior at the University of Southern Maine. She is majoring in Theatre Arts and focuses in American Sign Language studies. She has been on stage for fifteen years, as well as specialized in other theatrical areas such as tech and directing. Along with theater, she has a love for ASL and this is her fifth year studying the language. Ashley also enjoys music and art and can often be found either working on her music or painting in her free time. 

Melissa Nowak
Melissa Nowak
Subjects: Photography

I am a professional photographer, currently specializing in newborn photography, as well as high school senior photography. I have a photography studio in Windham, Maine, where I teach high school students and aspiring photographers the intricate workings of lighting, composition, design elements, and the art of creating a dynamic image. I studied photography at McIntosh college in Dover, NH. After graduating in 2006, I immersed myself in the field; working as a freelance photographer, photo editor & graphic designer. I also worked in a fine art gallery as a photography curator, where I had the opportunity to work with art of photography masters. This further sharpened my eye for excellent photography, and inspired me to pursue portraiture and abstraction in addition to my commercial work. I currently spend most of my photographing hours in local hospitals, creating a photojournalistic story of baby's first day. Photojournalism became my new passion when I was given the opportunity to photograph a specific people group in Ethiopia in 2016. I returned in 2017 to further this work, to bring awareness to certain issues, and also to follow up with the wonderful people I had first photographed in 2016. I plan to continue this work in 2019.


  • Fine Arts

  • AAA in Photography and Digital Imaging, McIntosh College, 2006
  • AAS in Personal Fitness Training, University of Southern Maine, 1996

My photography course is fun and in a relaxed atmosphere. We cover a lot of material, but also get to play with light, and experiment quite a bit. I allow students to direct the focus of the course, depending on their specific interest (portraiture, fine art, documentary, sport photography, etc) I encourage students by critiquing their work, and I welcome students to critique each other’s work in a way that foster’s growth and improvement. I also promote the importance of studying the masters and other prominent photographers of today.

Jamie Smith, MA, BS
Jamie Smith, MA, BS
Subjects: Fine Arts

Jamie is a classically trained portrait artist, born and raised in New England. She is married and has two boys who are 11 and 14.

  • B.S. in Commercial Art and Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising, Pensacola Christian College, 1999
  • M.A. in Commercial Art, Pensacola Christian College, 2002

  • Southern Maine Robotics board of directors

Bernie Tajonera
Bernie Tajonera
Subjects: Fine Arts, Health, US History

Hello I’m Bernie! I’m passionate about creating, and performing music and in theater. When I’m not teaching you will find me on stage in a community theater production or playing bass in a local band. I enjoy reading mystery novels especially Agatha Christie. I embrace the challenge of thinking out side the box and finding new and exciting ways to create a strong foundation for learning !

Medical Assistant Certificate, Seacoast Career School 2008

Julie Tajonera, BA
Supervisory Teacher
Julie Tajonera, BA
Subjects: English, Social Studies, Study Skills, US History

I have worked in education for almost 20 years, first working at Royal Academy from 1995-1997, then homeschooling my two daughters for 13 years. I began working again at Royal Academy in 2014. I have enjoyed teaching a variety of writing, literature, and history courses and serving as a supervisory teacher, providing curriculum counseling, individualized achievement testing, and college and career counseling.


  • Orton-Gillingham Method for language instruction

  • BA in Religious Education from New England Bible College, 1995

Sarah Tajonera
Art and Dance Instructor
Sarah Tajonera
Subjects: Fine Arts


Sarah Tajonera has joined our RAE faculty as a dance and art instructor.  She is the daughter of Bern and Julie Tajonera and is currently attending Dean College in Boston, MA.  Sarah has been dancing for years and is an incredible artist.



Dance at Dean College, Boston

Ann Welch, MA, BS
Teacher - Preparing for Adulthood
Ann Welch, MA, BS

I have a Masters of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from New England College and a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Anna Maria College.  I have two certifications, one in Elementary Education and the other in General Special Education.  My experience has included a wide variety of teaching and educational leadership roles including Teacher; Adjunct Instructor for a graduate education online program; Homeschool Consultant; Homeschool Teacher for 2 of my 6 sons; Curriculum and Instruction specialist at an approved, private special education middle and high school; Title I Teacher; and Teaching Principal.

Royal Academy Education