2016-03-03 / News

Paranormal class OK’d for neighboring Adult Ed

By Molly Lovell-Keely Managing Editor

Kennebunk resident Ray Fowler said he was surprised to get a call from Adult Education of the Kennebunks and Arundel, informing him that the course he was scheduled to teach, “Children and the Afterlife,” was going to be canceled. Not long after, however, RSU 21 officials changed their minds and will allow the class to be held. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Kennebunk resident Ray Fowler said he was surprised to get a call from Adult Education of the Kennebunks and Arundel, informing him that the course he was scheduled to teach, “Children and the Afterlife,” was going to be canceled. Not long after, however, RSU 21 officials changed their minds and will allow the class to be held. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) KENNEBUNK – The teacher of an adult education course on children and the afterlife is questioning why the class was canceled, before it was again allowed to be held.

Ray Fowler is scheduled to teach “Children and the Afterlife,” which appears in the most recent course booklet for Adult Education of the Kennebunks and Arundel for five Tuesdays starting March 22. The listing does not appear on the program’s website.

Fowler got a call from a program official last week informing him that courses of a “spiritual” nature would no longer be allowed and he wouldn’t be able to present the class.

“This is a course that’s about the scientific investigation of a phenomenon. It’s not spiritual,” said Fowler, 82, who has taught adult education classes throughout the Northeast since the 1980s, and has authored 11 books on strange phenomenon.

In fact, Fowler said, there are university programs that study children who remember past lives, including the University of Virginia’s Perceptual Studies program.

About a week after the phone call, Fowler learned the district changed its mind and invited him to teach the class, but at Kennebunk High School, not at Fowler’s Maguire Road home, where he has taught courses for the program since 2002.

Dr. Phil Potenziano, the Regional School Unit 21 assistant superintendent who has been employed by the district since July, said he and new adult education director Lisa Coruthers decided to review procedures and protocol for all courses.

“We also did research on other adult ed courses and called Ray back to tell him we’d be happy to offer the course, but in one of our schools,” Potenziano said, adding that courses offered through someone’s home are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Fowler will be allowed to teach this most recent class in his home, but said he won’t sign a contract for future classes that would require he teach on district property. Fowler said Potenziano offered to transport equipment used for the course from his home to the school, but Fowler said it would be a lot of work and fears it would make set-up difficult.

Potenziano said he personally didn’t receive complaints about the course, or disagree with it, but was asked by one caller why the district would “pay for that course,” adding that the district doesn’t pay for adult education courses.

Instructors are paid as an RSU 21 vendor and he or she has to submit an invoice upon completion of the course(s) they teach.

“A majority of our instructors are paid hourly and the rate ranges from $17 per hour to $25 per hour depending on the experience and course topic,” Potenziano said. “So the more technical the course the higher the rate of pay.”

Some courses are paid for by the individual, he said, based on the type of course. Fowler’s course is listed in the catalogue for $65.

Potenziano said other adult education programs offer other paranormal courses, including Biddeford, which offers a course on paranormal investigation that has offered a field trip into the Pepperell Mills.

Potenziano said officials wanted to make sure the course wouldn’t be made available to people younger than 18, or was not “indoctrinating anybody or proselytizing.”

“Which it wasn’t,” he added.

Fowler, who moved to Kennebunk in 2001, has spent decades researching UFO sightings and abductions, and his reports have been included in congressional hearings, military publications and professional journals throughout the U.S. and the world. For several years he ran a support group, also out of his Kennebunk home, for those who have had near-death experiences, through the International Association for Near Death Studies. Before spending decades of his life-research phenomenon, including Maine’s Allagash abductions, he did a tour with the United States Air Force Security Service, spent 25 years with GTE Government Systems as a task manager and was a senior planner for the Minuteman Missile Program.

He’s taught adult education courses, even through Adult Education of the Kennebunks and Arundel, on UFOs, and his book, “The Andreasson Affair,” was a New York Times best seller.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, and raised in the area, Fowler said many of his family members have experienced strange phenomenon, which is detailed in his book, “UFO Testament, Anatomy of an Abductee,” published in 2002, and chronicles what Fowler can remember of his own experiences with alien beings.

When Fowler learned that his most recent course was canceled, he notified the nine students who had already signed up for it, many of whom were outraged at what one person referred to as “political correctness run amok.”

“I thought the point of education was to lead one out of darkness, into the light of knowledge,” wrote one student, who also wondered if the district was being pressured by “ultra-conservative religious groups.”

Fowler said his classes often provide comfort to those who have experienced strange things.

“Just a couple days ago I got a call from a woman who thought she may have been abducted,” Fowler said. “I don’t get as many of those calls as I used to, but they usually start off with, ‘Don’t think I’m crazy, but . . .’ I’ll listen for a half hour or so – hardly say anything – and then they’ll tell me how much I’ve helped them. They just want someone to talk to who won’t ridicule them.”

Fowler’s class will touch on near-death experiences in children and children who remember past lives, among other topics. He’ll lecture on particular case studies and touch on the subject in mainstream media, including the LMN network’s “Ghost Inside My Child” TV series.

Fowler’s memories from what he believes are abductions are few, which he thinks are by design, but does remember a being he calls “The lady in the light,” telling him that he’d do something good for mankind one day.

“I don’t know,” Fowler said to the notion that he had succeeded in that prophecy.

“My wife and I do a lot of things for older people in the community. We do concerts for the elderly and a nursing home ministry. Having 11 books published – I guess that helps,” he said, adding that he still lays awake at night wondering the purpose for the phenomenon he’s experienced throughout his life.

“I’m very happy interfacing with people, comparing stories and writing.”

Fowler said those who say they don’t believe in the strange phenomena – phenomena that has followed Fowler throughout his life – often fear it because of the proof that backs it up.

“It’s an awful thing to go through when you’ve had these strong belief systems challenged,” he said.

“I do believe something is watching over us . . . and talking about it can be a catharsis.”

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