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 Ed. 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

Stephen Arnold, MS, BS, BA
Stephen Arnold, MS, BS, BA
Subjects: Science

I am a professional scientist with over 35 years of environmental consulting experience. Following my son's graduation from Royal Academy in 2014, I accepted an invitation to become a biology and environmental science instructor. I am truly energized by this opportunity to bring my real-life experience in the sciences to the students to show them there are real world applications of what they are learning. Keeping my students engaged and excited about the topics being taught is its own reward. I especially enjoy our laboratory classes when we can gather in person to explore world of biology!

  • M.S., Biology-Aquatic Ecology, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, 1981
  • B.S., Natural Resources-Fishery Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979
  • B.A., Biology, Cum Laude, Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, 1979

  • American Fisheries Society: National, Atlantic International, Southern New England, New York Chapters, and Bioengineering Section 

Science Albert Hazzard Award: 1982 recipient Presented by the Michigan Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, for excellence in fishery and aquatic science graduate research 

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

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 

Haley Drolet, MA, BA
Haley Drolet, MA, BA
Subjects: English, Foreign Language, Omnibus

Raised in New England (Portland, Maine) I now live and work in Old England (Oxford, UK). I have a passion for justifying the relevance of history. If we want to make the world a better place we’ve got to know where we’re coming from. When I’m not reading Sappho, drinking tea, or writing, I’m going on long walks with my dalmatian, Annie, and photographer husband, Jonathan.


  • Classical Reception
  • Gender Studies
  • Latin language & literature
  • Ancient Greek language & literature

MA in Classics, King’s College London, 2016 BA in Classical Studies, Gordon College, 2015

Jane Keffer
Jane Keffer

I have worked with Royal Academy since it opened in 1994 as a Supervisory Teacher. I have worked in the field of education since the 1970s – first in early childhood education as the director of a large preschool, and then in a K-12 private school.   In the 1980s, I was a leader in the Michigan homeschool movement. Mentored by homeschooling pioneers Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, I began homeschooling her own children in 1982. Shortly after, I founded the Homeschool Support Network and began publishing the newspaper, Home Educator’s Family Times – first in hard copy and now with a national and international online circulation.  I teach workshops on homeschooling topics and, over the years, have organized major home education conferences in Michigan and New England. I am an active member of my church and especially enjoy teaching, and working with the homeless, underprivileged, and single parent families.


  • Early Childhood Education
  • K-12 curriculum development
  • Biblical Studies
  • Prophetic Studies

  • Three years college, University of Michigan system, MI
  • Ministerial Certificates: Global Awakening, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • ICIT School, ID

  • Conference planner/director of homeschooling/educational conferences in the Northeast, USA from 1985 – 2007.

Shirley Minster, MSEd, BS
Shirley Minster, MSEd, BS
Subjects: English

My philosophy of education is pretty basic. Encourage the student to discuss personal interests and goals and then honor the student by working with those interests and towards those goals. It's also important for me to spend time with the parents discussing not only possible concerns, but what they see as strength areas in their child. When we work as a team, the student grows and is honored for his/her individuality.


  • Counseling and Stages of Development (Child — Adult)
  • Creative Writing
  • Author Studies
  • American Government: Establishment, Constitution (State & Federal), Bill of Rights

  • MS Ed. in Education/Counselor Education, University of Southern Maine, 1984
  • BS in Elementary Education; Minors: English, Music Education, University of Southern Maine, 1979

  • State of Florida Dept. of Education: Guidance and Counseling (Pre-K – Gr 12) and Elementary Education (K-6)
  • State of Maine Dept. of Education: Guidance Counselor Professions (K-12) and Elementary Education Professional (K-8)
  • State of Maine Board of Counseling Professionals Registered Counselor
  • International speaker on educational topics and stages of development
  • Expert witness on issues related to family, education programs, and school choice
  • Counselor to parents, children, teens, and families
  • Consultant to business, missionary and military families in the United States and foreign countries

  • American Counseling Association
  • Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling

  • Minster, S. (1994-present) Education Columnist: The Home Educator's Family Times. Maine: Gray and http://hefamtimes.com/.
  • Minster, S. (1996-2012) Education and Family Columnist: Good News Connection. Maine: Portland.

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