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.
Ron Peter Maiorana is the Center Director at Brain Balance in Virginia Beach, VA. Ron is a graduate of Fordham University in New York with a BA Degree in Business Communications. He has over 25 years in the public and private sectors specializing in all facets of Marketing Communications including advertising, branding, sales, public relations, customer satisfaction, retention, and crisis communications. Ron has won multiple awards from the Association of Graphic Communications (AGC) for large-scale advertising campaigns, web site development, annual reports, and marketing collateral campaign materials. He also holds awards from PRSA-NY (Golden Apple Award), National Association of Public Hospitals (Safety Net Healthy Communities Award) and the RX award for television advertising excellence. Ron is a life-long musician and loves spending time with his wife and daughter when not at Brain Balance – helping kids reach their goals.
Vivian Hall is the Relations Director at Brain Balance in Virginia Beach, VA. Vivian is a graduate of Penn State University in State College PA, with degrees in Speech Communications. She has over twenty years of public and private post-secondary education as a Director. Vivian was captivated by the notion of growing immaturities in Brain Development. Her philosophy is, if you don’t like your circumstances, change them. Vivian loves the performing arts and her favorite pass time is spending time with her family. She lives in Chesapeake with her husband and children.
Savannah Johnson is a Virginia Beach native and a graduate of Kellam High School. Growing up, she always had a desire to help others, especially children, and this began to shape her choices. She attended James Madison University with the idea of becoming an occupational therapist, 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 Health Science and a concentration in Health Studies.
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 changed and benefited their lives. Throughout her own life, Savannah has struggled with anxiety, a difficulty that helps her relate to the kids at Brian Balance even more. This aspect makes it even more satisfying for her to see the changes when her kid’s lives improve. She was quickly promoted to head coach and later would become the Program Director. When she is not working at Brain Balance, Savannah enjoys being a new mom and spending time with her daughter, family, and friends.