Country Day School Head
Welcome to SSA Country Day School!
When arriving at our school, visitors are greeted by a banner that reads "Childhood is a journey, not a race.” This simple phrase encapsulates the educational philosophy of Country Day School. It is an acknowledgement of the importance of childhood in one’s educational journey as the foundation upon which future educational experiences are built.
We recognize the power that authentic learning experiences and play have in encouraging children’s natural affinity for learning. By creating opportunities to be curious, creative and innovative, we help students develop the skills they need to be lifelong learners. The roles of teacher and learner become less defined as faculty and students collaborate to understand concepts more deeply and discover new avenues to investigate. We carefully consider the academic, developmental and social-emotional needs of our students when making educational decisions.
Cultivating close personal relationships is a central tenant of the Country Day community. A safe, nurturing environment allows children to take risks, display vulnerability and be resilient when faced with challenges. Our devotion to developing social-emotional competencies, providing opportunities for spiritual growth and creating emotionally safe environments let our students know that we are partners in their journey.
Country Day School is nestled among 17 acres of beautiful landscape. However, the wooded forest, grassy hillside and bustling creek are not just scenic views for students to enjoy when looking out a window – they are an extension of our classrooms. Each day provides a new opportunity to learn amongst the tranquil canopy of our treehouse classroom, to interact with nature while hiking through the forest, and to work collaboratively with peers while exploring the outdoor environment.
As you walk down the halls of Country Day, you’ll often hear students singing as you examine the diverse display of artwork. Visual arts, music, drama and movement are integrated into each student’s learning experience to provide a depth and joy for learning that could not be achieved in their absence. All of these experiences create an engaging and enriched environment that is optimal for student learning.
It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I invite you to visit our school and experience all that is Country Day!
Dr. Jennifer Asmonga
Head of Lower Schools
Dr. Jennifer Asmonga became head of the lower schools at Shady Side Academy in 2021, overseeing both Country Day School and the Junior School.
Dr. Asmonga has served as the head of Country Day School since 2018 and prior to that she spent a decade at the Junior School, first as a kindergarten and fifth grade teacher and then as a full-time learning specialist. She also served as director of Camp Ren, SSA's middle school summer day camp, from 2009 to 2011. Prior to SSA, Dr. Asmonga was a special education teacher for grades 5-7 at Propel Montour Charter School and a fifth grade teacher at the Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School.
She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in social and comparative analysis in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Johns Hopkins University.