After School Explorers

After School Explorers (ASE) is the Junior School’s unique after-school program. Students receive an all-inclusive experience that can be customized to fit their individual needs and interests, without ever having to leave the Junior School campus! Options include enrichment classes, music lessons, study center, unstructured play, organized games and more! Rates are offered for a full year, one to five days a week per term, or daily drop-in. Families enrolled in ASE and daily drop-in attendees can take advantage of the Fox Chapel shuttle that transports students to the Senior School campus at the end of each day for a small fee.

General Info

Melanie Smith
Director of Explorers Programs

412-473-4194 or 412-254-4772

  • ASE is available from 3:10-6 p.m. every day the Junior School is in session.
  • Schedules can be customized daily for each child.
  • Fox Chapel Shuttle available daily for an additional fee.
  • Programming also offered for in-service days and school breaks.

2017-2018 Dates and Rates

Full Year: Aug. 29–June 4 (PK/K start date Aug. 30)
Term I (12 weeks): Aug. 29–Nov. 16 (PK/K start date Aug. 31)
Term II (12 weeks): Nov. 20–Feb. 22
Term III (12 weeks): Feb. 26–June 6

Full Year (36 weeks): $3,350
5 days/week (per term): $1,175
4 days/week (per term): $1,025
3 days/week (per term): $825
2 days/week (per term): $585
1 day/week (per term): $325
Daily Drop-In Rate: $35/day
Fox Chapel Shuttle: $7.50 for enrolled Explorers, $10 for daily drop-ins, $5/child for two or more siblings enrolled in ASE

Full-year and trimester rates include the choice of one enrichment class each day and one 30-minute music lesson each week (based upon availability), as well as snack, recess, games, sports and activities at Home Base, and access to the quiet, supervised Study Center (grades 1-5).

Late pick-up policy: After 6 p.m., a late pick-up fee of $10/child will be added for the first 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the late fee increases to $10/child per minute. Families who are late more than 3 times in one term will be charged $10/minute/child on subsequent late pick ups. Charges will be added to the end of trimester bill.

Program Features

Home Base
Home Base includes the gymnasium, field and playground. Students begin each afternoon at Home Base for recess and a snack before beginning their individual schedules. Explorers can stay at Home Base or return there after their enrichment classes, music lessons or Study Center time. In addition to unstructured play time, the Home Base teacher leads a variety of daily games and intramural sports.

Enrichment Classes
A wide variety of enrichment classes are available Monday through Thursday, from sports to art to cooking to science. Explorers have access to one enrichment class each day that they are registered in After School Explorers, excluding Fridays. See the Enrichment Classes tab for class information.

Music Lessons
Two skilled music teachers lead enrolled Explorers in one 30-minute music lesson each week. Instruments include piano, violin and guitar. Based upon availability. Note: Students enrolled in music lessons are enrolled for the year and are expected to practice at home each day. The year will culminate with a recital at the end of the school year.

Study Center
The Study Center is run by a teacher who communicates frequently with the school’s learning specialist and classroom teachers. Families may request that a report be sent home after each visit to the Study Center. Study Center is not available on Fridays.

Fox Chapel Shuttle
The Fox Chapel Shuttle departs each day from the Junior School at 5:15 p.m. and transports students to the Senior School Curry Gym Patio. All students enrolled in After School Explorers have access to the shuttle, based on availability and subject to an additional fee.

Enrichment Classes

fall Enrichment Classes

September 5- November 16, 2017


Art Explorers

Grades PK- K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades 1- 5: 4:15- 5:15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes September 4; October 9

Ms. Bellini, former Junior School art teacher, returns for an afternoon of creativity and exploration. Clay? Painting? Collage? Yes! Let your child explore with all of his/her favorite art materials without making a mess in your home. It's the best of both worlds! Artists will have a blast while they put their own personal touches and flair on their projects.


Grades PK: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades K-1: 4:30-5:
15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes September 4; October 9

Drumbeats is an African drumming, dancing and art class. Over the course of the term, children will learn how different drums are made, the cultural role they play, what they are used for and most importantly how to play them! The drumming will be incorporated into an interactive African or Caribbean folktale. Children will create unique art pieces and learn traditional dances that will bring the act of drumming to life in a dramatic context. See you in the drum circle!

Woods Play

Grades K- 3: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes September 4; October 9

Into the woods we play, dig, explore, build, create! Join Junior School PE teacher Ms. Karen DiFiore as she leads her charges into Frick Park for some good, old fashioned free play while spending time in nature. Each week, the Woods Play crew will explore a different area of the park to set up camp and then choose how to spend their time there. Disclosure: they will return to school dirtier, muddier and possibly wetter than when they left; old clothes and shoes are suggested!

Yearbook Committee

Grades 4-5: 3:45-5 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes September 4; October 9

This is a class you don't want to miss! Students in fourth and fifth grade will work alongside Junior School computer science teacher Ms. Karen Sandora to create the Junior School yearbook for the 2017-2018 school year. Participants will take photos during school events and learn how to lay them out using provided yearbook software. What a great way for our Junior School leaders to create a lasting memory! Note: This is a yearlong class, and enrolled students should plan to attend all sessions. Class is limited to 12 so enroll now!



Grade PK: 3:45-4:05 p.m.
Grades K-1: 4:05-4:30 p.m.
Grades 2- 5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term

Coach Steve Berger, North Hills High School assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach, will teach our future NBA and WNBA players how to properly dribble a basketball and work on other ball handling skills. Players will also work on stamina and endurance through running drills and shooting practice. For older students, the session ends with an opportunity to apply introduced skills in a friendly game.

Comics Club with Miss Sally

Grades 1- 5: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term

Comics: read them, discuss them, make them! The SSA Comics Club is for new and seasoned readers and makers of comics, manga and graphic novels. This will be our very secret laboratory/treehouse for reading and making comics to our hearts' content!


Ballet – Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Broadway Jazz – Grades 1-5: 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms

After School Explorers welcomes Bodiography to our program for a third year! Ms. Kaylin Treese will help to establish solid dance foundations with our younger friends in ballet, and build on those steps in Broadway Jazz with our older students. We recommend that families purchase ballet shoes for PK and K students. Note: This is a yearlong class which will culminate in a dance recital in May.

First Tee Golf

Ages 7 & up: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Class size is limited to 9 players
Fall Term

The First Tee uses golf to teach youth life lessons and leadership skills. Sessions include a fun, group setting for youth ages 7 and up regardless of background or previous experience. Teaming up with experts in positive youth development, The First Tee helps youth become good golfers and even better people. The First Tee emphasizes Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. Through golf and our core values, your kids will learn life skills like: making proper introductions, managing emotions, resolving conflicts, setting up step-by-step goals, planning for the future, appreciating diversity. Youth progress through different levels by demonstrating The First Tee Nine Core Values, life and golf skills as well as passing an assessment. All participants, regardless of age, start at the PLAYer level.

Grow Your Tree Yoga

Grades PK: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades K- 2: 4:15- 4:45 p.m.

Grades 2- 5: 4:45-5:15 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms

Just like a tree or plant, we all grow! After the school day is done, students can join Krystle Fitzpatrick to learn and practice, in unique and fun ways, yoga movements that energize and postures and techniques that calm. Participants will engage in fun themes and activities as well as design, create and keep a journal to be able to share what they learn with family at home. In addition, at the beginning of the program, students will plant a seed, watch it grow throughout our weeks together and take it home at the end as a reminder of how we continue to grow and learn every day and can do yoga anywhere along the way!


Creating & Caring for Magical Creatures

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Fall Term

Spend Wednesday afternoons with Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum, a current SSA parent, imagining, creating and caring for unique magical creatures. This is a hands-on and process-oriented arts and crafts class designed to foster imagination, creativity and play. Children will spend time working in different media including clay, paper and fiber to create magical creatures like dragons, fairies, unicorns and elves and the worlds they inhabit. We will work collaboratively to create imaginative stories that add greater context and interest to our creatures and their environs.


Grades 2- 5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term

Work with enthusiastic crochet and crafter, Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum, to learn the art of crochet. We will work together to learn the basic crochet stitches (chain, single, double and triple) and use those stitches to make a series of projects focused on creating some awesome accessories. Projects may include washcloths, flowers, curly cues, granny squares, scarfs, finger puppets, bookmarks or hats.


Grades PK: 3:45-4:05 p.m.
Grades K-1: 4:05-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms

With 13 years of experience, Coach Mark Haffner combines exercises, positive encouragement and skilled training to help students advance to the next level as tennis pros. With an emphasis on agility and fun, Coach Mark pairs students of similar ability and age level. Tennis rackets are provided, but students are encouraged to bring their own. Note: Returning first grade students may enroll in the 45-minute class.

The Wheel Mill

Ages 8 & up: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Class size is limited to 9
Fall Term

The Wheel Mill is an East End treasure and ASE is excited to partner with them this fall! Riders will receive a 30-minute instructional lesson during the first weeks of class to introduce them to the features of the space. After this time, they are free to explore and ride in the Fundamental Skills Area. Students in this class should be able to ride a bike independently. Bikes will be provided but all class participants must bring a helmet each week and have a signed waiver on file to attend the class.


PK/K Builders

Grades PK- K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes on Sept. 14, 21

Who can resist a pile of blocks? Builders class gives PK and K Explorers the opportunity to jump right in and transform that pile into whatever they can imagine – buildings, trees, even dragons! Each week the class will use different types of building materials such as wooden blocks, LEGOs and waffle blocks.


Grades K-1: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades 1- 5: 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes on Sept. 14, 21

Joining us since 2008, Mr. John Young, a chess expert and instructor at a number of local schools, teaches everything from the basics of the game to winning strategies. Mr. Young's calm and supportive teaching style provides a comfortable environment for beginner and advanced players to develop their game. Note: Returning first grade students may sign up for the hour-long class. New students should sign up for the 30-minute class to learn the basics.

Math Games and Puzzles

Grades 4-5: 3:45- 4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes on Sept. 14, 21

Join fifth grade teacher Ms. Christina Reed for fun math activities rooted in logic and problem solving! Students will actively participate in creative and fact-based activities and games. They will work together to solve challenging puzzles that connect to a number of various math topics, ranging from fractions and decimals to geometry and real-world word problems.

Soccer Shots

Grade PK: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades K- 3: 4:15-5 p.m.
Fall, Spring Terms
No classes on Sept. 14, 21

Soccer Shots is a program designed to introduce your child to soccer! Energetic and enthusiastic instructors love working with children. They not only teach soccer skills, but also work on improving balance, coordination and agility with the kids. Soccer Shots also uses the sessions to teach children important concepts such as teamwork, sharing and respect.

In-Service Days/Break Camps

For the 2017-2018 school year, ASE will offer in-service day and school break programming on all days the Junior School is not in session (excluding the holidays listed below). These exciting day- and week-long camps are much more than six hours of day care. Each affordable program is centered on a theme; over the course of the year, students will travel through time, bake, learn new sports skills, explore our communities and parks, get tech-y and go on a field trip to a secret location!

Rates & Details

In-Service Day Programs

Open to SSA Junior School students only.
Full-day programs: $70
Lunch provided

School Break Camps

Open to students from any school.
Weekly rate: $375
Daily rate: $80
Families must provide lunches and snacks daily.

All Programs

  • Programs run from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Junior School unless otherwise noted.
  • FREE before care begins at 8 a.m.
  • After care is available until 6 p.m. at an additional cost of $20 per child (free on in-service days for attendees who are enrolled in ASE the day the program occurs).
  • A shuttle between the Junior and Senior School campuses is available for a fee of $5/child. Bus departs the Senior School at 8:30 a.m. and returns at 3:30 p.m.
  • All activities included in program cost.
  • Late registrations are subject to a $20 fee. Some programs may not accept late registrations.

No programming is available on the following holidays:

  • Sept. 4 – Labor Day
  • Sept. 21 – Rosh Hashanah
  • Nov. 22, 23, 24 – Thanksgiving
  • Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Feb. 19 – Presidents' Day
  • May 29 – Memorial Day

Break Camps

More information coming soon!

Winter Break, December 26- 29, 2017
Winter Break, January 2- 5, 2018
Spring Break, March 19- 23, 2018
Spring Break, March 26- 29, 2018

In-Service Day Programs

More information coming soon!

Sept. 14 - Hopes & Dreams Conferences
The Frick Art & Historical Center

Oct. 9 - Columbus Day
Sports Day

Nov. 17 - Evaluation Day
Fall Cooking Festival

Nov. 27 - Faculty In-service

Dec. 8 - Parent Conferences

Feb. 23 - Optional Parent Conferences

April 2 - In-Service Day

May 21 - Evaluation Day

June 1 - Parent Conferences


Can my child take enrichment classes and music lessons?

Absolutely! That is the benefit of an all-inclusive program. The full year and trimester rates include the choice of one enrichment class each day and one 30-minute music lesson each week (based upon availability) as well as snack, recess, games, sports and activities at Home Base, and access to a quiet, supervised Study Center and the Fox Chapel Shuttle.

How do I register?

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Some enrichment classes fill up quickly! At the beginning of each term, you will receive an email to let you know that registration is open. Full year Explorers will have the opportunity to choose new enrichment classes each term. Visit the Register Now! tab above to find the link to our online registration site when registration is open.

Do I need to send payment with my registration?

No. You have the option of being billed by the school at the end of each trimester (the charge will appear on your statement from SSA) or paying by credit card through our registration site.

Are enrichment classes or music lessons ever canceled?

Very infrequently! Because we have a stable set of teachers in the program, we are able to deal with the ebb and flow of registrations. Though SSA reserves the right to cancel a class for insufficient enrollment, we will have additional daily activities in which all enrolled children can participate. Home Base and the Study Center will never be canceled if the Junior School is open.

If I'm running late, can my child stay after school?

If you encounter an unexpected delay, the After School Explorers program is available for a $35 daily drop-in rate per child. Students will have access to Home Base, the Study Center and the Fox Chapel Shuttle (based on availability and an additional fee) until 6 p.m. Changes to your child's transportation must be emailed to your child's teacher and

How do I pick my child up from After School Explorers?

For the safety of your child, all doors to the Junior School are locked. You can reach us by texting 412-254-4772 when you arrive, and we will open the doors nearest to the gym for you to enter the building. An ASE staff member will radio for your child to meet you near the gym doors. If you need to arrange for your child to be ready to be picked up when you arrive, we ask that you call 5-10 minutes in advance of your arrival to allow sufficient time for your child to wrap up an activity and to retrieve his or her belongings.

How many enrichment classes can my child take each day?

Your child will have access to one enrichment class for every day that he or she is enrolled in After School Explorers. This rate includes recess and snack, access to the Study Center, music lessons and Fox Chapel Shuttle (based on availability and an additional fee).

Who are the instructors for the program? Are students properly supervised?

A consistent group of qualified and experienced staff supervise students during music lessons, time in the Study Center and during unstructured play times. Please take a look at the "Staff" tab to learn more about who will be the consistent faces for you and your child throughout the school year.

Enrichment classes are taught by SSA teachers and reputable members of the Pittsburgh community. Most enrichment classes are capped at 16 students.

Who can I contact with questions?

We welcome any and all questions regarding registration, billing and suggestions about future enrichment classes. Please contact Melanie Smith at or 412-473-4194.

What is the Tax ID number for tax purposes?

Shady Side Academy's Tax ID number is 25-0965561.


Melanie Smith, Director of After School Explorers

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith joined the Shady Side Academy community in 2007. Prior to becoming director of the After School Explorers programs in 2013, she taught pre-kindergarten for six years and was director of the East End Explorers summer camp at the Junior School.

In addition to her roles at the Junior School, Mrs. Smith was also involved in the Residential Life program at the Senior School. She lived on campus for four years and was the head dorm parent in Morewood House (girls' dormitory) for three years.

Prior to Shady Side, Mrs. Smith was living in Quito, Ecuador, teaching kindergarten in an international school setting at Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she obtained her bachelor's degree in applied developmental psychology and her early childhood teaching certification, as well as a master's degree in early childhood education.

Register Now!

After School Explorers Registration

After School Explorers registration for Fall 2017 is now open! Winter Term registration will open in mid-October.

Note: After School Explorers is only available to currently enrolled SSA Junior School families.

Register Now!

In-Service Day & Break Camps Registration

Registration for in-service day programs and school break camps is open! Families may register for all programs offered during the 2017-18 school year.

Note: Break camps are open to students in grades PK-5 from any school. In-service day programs are only available to currently enrolled SSA Junior School families.

Register Now!

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