Ms. Denise Shimel is so busy in life doing things for other people, it’s probably hard to find free time for herself. Ms. Shimel is involved in many things inside and outside of school. She teaches two classes, sings with 3 choirs, is involved with her church, and helps with a club in the high school.
Ms. Shimel first started teaching in Bellwood in the fall of 2008 for the graduating calss of 2009. Ms. Shimel teaches biology and microbiology in the high school. Her favorite thing about teaching is when there is that “teachable moment” in class. Ms. Shimel also enjoys the overall schedule of the academic calendar. This is because it is the schedule of her life. There are finite periods of time for certain things and school has a particular progression. She has enjoyed this schedule since she was first in elementary school over 35 years ago to today.
“Like when someone learns something new or the concept really sinks in and you can see the ‘light bulb go off’,'” she said.
Outside of teaching, Ms. Shimel likes to go to Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lanse where she was the president of the church council until the February when she just became the council secretary for this year’s elected term. She often serves as an acolyte, lector, and communion assistant during worship as well as teach Sunday School every 3 weeks and sing in the church choir when they have special services.
“I love to sing! Aside from church, I sing in 3 community choirs!” Ms. Shimel said.
She sings with Valley Voices in Philipsburg for their Heritage Days Summer Concert which takes place in July. She also sings with Alleghany Choral in Tyrone for both Christmas and spring concerts. Finally, she sings with the Bellwood Community Choir for both seasons.
Ms. Shimel also plays walleyball, which is like volleyball played on the walls of a racquetball court, and she spends a lot of time with her family when she’s not in the Bellwood area. She often travels to see her mother who lives in the West Branch areas.
Ms. Shimel was the salutatorian of the West Branch Class of 1996. This achievement really helped her earn a large scholarship to attend Lycoming College in Williamsport where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 2000. After graduating college, she moved to southern Maryland and taught at Great Mills High School for four years.. When she left there, she worked at CNB Bank and was able to be a substitute teacher for 3 years.
Another thing Ms. Shimel is involved with, is the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS). She is the club adviser and Ms. Flarend is the Regional Director for PJAS. PJAS is a statewide organization of junior and senior high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research and investigations.
This is a club at Bellwood for science-minded students who are interested in carrying out some experiment or research in a specific science category and drawing a conclusion based on the data they found. This is largely independent work on their behalf. The organization is a rubric scored event so each student can achieve a first award. They have a rubric to meet the criteria to “place” at the competition. Students present their research and conclusion to a panel of up to 3 judges in a room with other students who are presenting in the same category of the 12 available. The students have 10 minutes to present their project and if they exceed the time limit, they can’t earn a 1st award.
Students who earn a 1st award at Regionals are invited to compete at the State Competition. The PJAS State Competition is held at Penn State, University Park Campus over a Sunday- Tuesday in May and there are usually 3,000 PJAS students from various regions of Pennsylvania.