WALDO — A new driving academy is poised to offer individualized instruction at one all-inclusive price.

Coastal Area Driving Academy offers classroom instruction at the Waldo County Technical Center and is one of only two driving schools in the county.

Owner and instructor Raena Trojano-Penney said she got into the industry in a nontraditional way. Penney had gone back to school for nursing when COVID-19 hit. She was not a fan of online classes and decided to take the summer off.

Her son took driving lessons in March  2020, and at that time, his school was looking for a driving instructor. After some convincing from her son, she decided to take the leap, and has not looked back.

“I really love getting to know the students and the satisfaction you get from seeing their driving improve,” she said. “It is important to bring their skills up.”

While she loves her job and finds it extremely rewarding, Penney said it is not for the faint of heart. “I try not to have any surprises, by covering the material before they encounter a situation.”

“You also have to be patient and understanding,” she said, “because everyone learns at a different rate.” Her goal is to make each student a safe, defensive driver.

As for her students, she said, “They really love me. It’s really true.” Penney said oftentimes she and her students become friends after the class is done. “We love doing what we are doing,” she said.

Besides herself, Coastal Area Driving Academy has two other instructors, which allows the school to take up to 30 students at a time. Penney said the small class size helps students finish the classroom coursework in a timely manner.

“Some schools have a two- to three-month wait time after the classroom part is done to do their driving,” she said. “After the first week of classroom instruction, we drive.”

Penney noted that WCTC’s central location makes the classroom portion convenient for most students. In addition, having classes there exposes students to the programs the Tech Center has to offer.

She said her academy also works hard to accommodate each student’s schedule, often scheduling lessons during a student’s study hall, on weekends, or after classes. “We also offer transportation from a district school to the Tech Center,” she said.

The entire five- to six-week course, including materials, classroom and driving time, is $585, with no hidden fees, she said.

Currently she is enrolling students for her first session of the school year, starting Sept. 14, with new sessions following once a month. Penney said she has students signing up from Searsport, Mount View, Maine Ocean School and Ecology Learning Center so far. For more information, visit coastalareadriving.com/.