Center Director / Co-Owner
Tom Shenk has just retired from 22 years as an elementary school educator. He enjoyed teaching 6th and 3rd grades for 14 years before becoming an elementary Physical Education instructor. Soon after switching to PE, he learned of the strong influence cardiovascular exercise has on brain function. This sparked a fascination with what current brain research is telling us about how the human brain develops and learns. He designed and conducted a pilot program from 2009-2011 where he implemented Brain-Friendly activities and techniques in a 2nd and 4th grade classroom of low achieving students. As a result of these efforts, he was honored as Teacher of the Year for his school, then his school district, and finally for Region II of the entire state of Virginia. He continues his efforts to make homes and education more Brain-Friendly by sharing his knowledge with parents, educators, educational leaders, and political leaders at the local, state, and national levels.
For Tom, opening the first Brain Balance Center in Hampton Roads is the perfect next step in his life. It combines his years of experience working with children who have social, academic, and emotional struggles and his Physical Education knowledge of the positive impact of movement on brain development.
Tom is tremendously excited to help bring positive changes in the lives of children and their families all across Tidewater!
Paola P. Shenk
Executive Director / Co-Owner
Paola Shenk is originally from Ecuador and the mother of two girls (Sammy & Thessa). She holds two degrees, one in Architecture and one in Early Childhood Education. At the beginning of her career she worked in Architecture and enjoyed the creative process, graphic design and use of colors and materials. She later found that teaching children was more in line with her passion and pursued a degree in Early Childhood Education. Paola worked as a pre-school and elementary school teacher in Ecuador. She also started a Children’s Entertainment Business that allowed her to combine her two interests of creative design and working with children.
While attending a Face Painting and Body Painting Convention in the US for her business, Paola met Tom Shenk. They married a year later, and she moved to the US. In 2004, Paola became part owner of A-1 Party Artists, Inc., a children’s entertainment company in Hampton Roads, VA. She managed up to eight artists, and handled all aspects of the business including marketing, hiring, training, purchasing, and internal accounting.
Paola also continued teaching as a Spanish tutor, substitute teacher, and an International Face and Body Art Instructor for Kids at FABAIC (Face and Body Art Convention).
In 2012, Paola attended a presentation by Dr. Robert Melillo about the Brain Balance Program. She left the presentation in tears understanding for the first time that all her cognitive, emotional, and personal struggles throughout her life had a coherent explanation and that finally there was hope. Regardless of her successes her struggles have been significant. She was working twice as hard for what came easy to others. She knew, after Dr Melillo’s speech, that there was a reason why she thinks, acts and feels the way she did for years. She is following a special BB program and she is experiencing amazing and subtle changes daily. She is a true believer and an advocate of this life-changing program. Paola decided to turn over the management of A-1 to a capable manager and pursue opening a Brain Balance Center in Virginia Beach.
Paola’s passion, business and teaching experience, creativity, motivation, and love for children as well as experiencing the benefits of the Brain Balance program herself, makes her one biggest assets to the future success of Brain Balance Center in Virginia Beach.
Katy grew up in a small town outside of Lynchburg, Virginia, and originally moved to Hampton Roads to attend college at Old Dominion University. She found Brain Balance Virginia Beach shortly after their opening, while working towards a career in Occupational Therapy. After seeing the way Brain Balance improved kids’ lives, she could not see herself doing anything else. As a student coach, she was able to relate to the children because of her own struggles with focus and social anxiety during childhood. Her skills and talents quickly elevated her to lead Coach, then to a director role for Brain Balance Virginia Beach.
Intellectually, she is fascinated with the understanding of brain development and function at the heart of The Brain Balance Program. This passion has led to further education in the fields of neurology and business, and she has received her certification in Childhood Neurobehavioral Disorders from The Institute of Applied Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation. She currently resides in Virginia Beach and loves to escape the city with her dog to go hiking, kayaking, and exploring.
Marissa, a North Carolina native, has lived in Virginia Beach since 2002. As a child, she had a passion for helping others, especially her two younger siblings, and this began to shape her choices. She attended Old Dominion University with the idea of becoming an elementary teacher, but with time, her interests shifted, and she found she preferred working with children on a more individual basis. She received her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology.
Shortly after graduation she was hired at Brain Balance as a coach. She loved her time working with the kids and seeing how the program changes and benefited their lives. Throughout her own life, Marissa struggled with ADD and anxiety, difficulties that help her relate to the kids at Brian Balance and make it even more satisfying when their lives improve. She was quickly promoted to lead coach, and later became Program Director. When she is not working at Brain Balance, Marissa enjoys coffee, spending time with her dog, and relaxing with friends.