The Secret Life of Shellie Viertz


At a championship swim meet, Shellie Viertz is in charge of coaching several swimmers.

Every day you see and meet new people. You watch people walk by you in the halls, glance at them while driving in your car, or hear about them through stories told by friends or showed in the news. You see their faces and what they wear, but what you are not aware of is their personality, interests, or stories. Shellie Viertz, a pool director at James Buchanan High School, is someone that many people around the school know; however, Viertz is more than just a pool director and lives a unique double life.


When Viertz was 10 years old, her grandma taught her how to sew. Viertz immediately fell in love with the hobby and started to fabricate her own clothes. She also sewed all of her dresses for her school dances and other events.


“When I was a junior and I had a boyfriend who was a senior, I made his tuxedo,” said Viertz. “Then after I made his tuxedo, I made my own dress which matched him. I had never bought a dress.”


Before leaving for the prom, Viertz and her prom date show off the dress and tuxedo Viertz had sewn herself.

After Viertz graduated from college, she worked for the Hagerstown YMCA being an instructor and coach of the swim team. Five years later, Viertz worked for the federal government for 13 years within the Department of Energy. Once Viertz married and had a child, she ended up in Mercersburg and took care of her son full-time.


During this time, Viertz began to bring sewing back into her life by selling teddy bears. Viertz made 50-80 teddy bears while she was taking care of her son. These were all made out of regular, fur fabric. After becoming skilled in making teddy bears, Viertz decided to take it to the next level.


Viertz purchased a half yard of a wool called mohair. Mohair is wool made from the hair of Angora goats. A half yard of mohair costs $250, which is enough to make only one teddy bear.


“I gave my first [mohair teddy bear] to my sister-in-law,” Viertz said, “but then someone saw it and requested for me to make them one. So I bought more mohair and made another one for them.”


Viertz has been the pool director, which manages pool rentals and other jobs needed done around the pool, at James Buchanan for six years and is planning on continuing her job for a while. She also stays after school every day in order to coach the swim team. Although Viertz doesn’t sew nearly as much as she used to, Viertz helps people with alterations or any other little jobs she is asked to do.