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


  • 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.

2018-2019 Dates and Rates

Full Year: Aug. 28–June 3 (PK/K start date Aug. 29)
Term I (12 weeks): Aug. 28–Nov. 15 (PK/K start date Aug. 29)
Term II (12 weeks): Nov. 19–Feb. 21
Term III (12 weeks): Feb. 25–June 3

Full Year (36 weeks): $3,425
5 days/week (per term): $1,205
4 days/week (per term): $1,050
3 days/week (per term): $845
2 days/week (per term): $600
1 day/week (per term): $335
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 term 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 play time, 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 three times in one term will be charged $10/minute/child on subsequent late pick ups. Charges will be added to the end of term bill.

Program Features

Play Time!
Play time includes the gymnasium, field and playground. Students begin each afternoon with recess and a snack before beginning their individual schedules. Explorers can enjoy play time for the entire afternoon or return there after their enrichment classes, music lessons or Study Center time. In addition to unstructured play time, a staff member may lead 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
Three skilled music teachers lead enrolled Explorers in one 30-minute music lesson per 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

August 28- November 15, 2018



Grades 1-3: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

Challenge your child's building creativity! This class is the perfect match for future builders and budding architects. Students will be introduced to famous buildings and architects through hands-on projects and three-dimensional representation. Projects will include drawing, modeling and building with interesting materials. They will get familiar with architectural vocabulary, as well as create and design projects of their own!


Grades PK-K: 3:45- 4:15
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

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 Magna-Tiles. Teachers will provide models and assist students.

Little Medical School

Ages 4- 8, 3:45- 4:45FULL
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

Little Medical School® brings medicine, science and the importance of health to children in an entertaining, exciting and fun way. Children learn while having fun as they dress up like doctors, use medical instruments and understand how the body works. Our mission is to teach children about the exciting field of medicine. This is done through hands-on demonstrations, crafts and games. Children are actively engaged as they explore the field of medicine. At the end of each course, your little doctor will receive a diploma in an exciting graduation ceremony. Note: Little Medical School is a six-week class.

Woods Play

Grades K-5, 3:45-5:15 p.m.FULL
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

Into the woods we go... to play, dig, explore, build and create art! Join Junior School PE teacher 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 Wood Play crew will explore a different area of the park to set up camp and then choose how to spend their time there. Disclosure: students will return to school dirtier, muddier and possibly wetter than when they left; old clothes and shoes are suggested!


Grades 2-4: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

Do you have a child that loves to dig in the dirt and grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables? Then they will enjoy this class hosted by Gianna Fazioli, director of SSA Farms. Students will spend time working in the raised garden beds, PK gardens and Foster Garden – all located on the Junior School campus. They will have an opportunity to harvest, learn more about the plants that are growing there and prepare the beds for the winter at the end of the term. Can you dig it?

Yearbook Committee

Grades 4-5: 3:45-5 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes Sept. 3, 10; Oct. 8

This is a class you don't want to miss! Students in fourth and fifth grade will work alongside Junior School computer science teacher Karen Sandora to create the Junior School yearbook for the 2018-2019 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 their skills in a friendly game.

Classic Games

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

How would you like to end your day playing games and having fun? This class will stimulate the mind, get your body moving, improve fine motor skills, and help you develop strategies. We will learn and play classic games such as: Candy Land, Snakes and Ladders, Sorry, and Twister. In addition to playing games, students will have the opportunity to work together to create their very own game by the end of the term!

Comics Club with Mr. Caleb

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

Comics: read them, discuss them, make them! The Comics Club is for new and seasoned readers and makers of comics, manga and graphic novels. This will be our very secret laboratory clubhouse 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 fourth 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.FULL
Fall Term

The First Tee uses golf to teach kids life lessons and leadership skills. Teaming up with experts in positive youth development, The First Tee helps kids 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 these core values, kids will learn life skills such as making proper introductions, managing emotions, resolving conflicts, setting up step-by-step goals, planning for the future and appreciating diversity.

Nerf Football

Grade PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades 1-5: 4:15- 5:00 p.m.

Fall Term

Our Junior School students love to play football during recess, and this class is the perfect way to introduce and enhance their skills. Boys and girls can the learn the fundamentals and improve upon passing, kicking, running and all-around team play. Here we go, SSA, here we go!

Stop Motion Animation

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

How many pictures does it take to make a dinosaur move from one end of a table to another? This class will explore the basics of creating a stop motion animation. Students will build skills in: creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and organization. Everyone will work together to develop storyboards and capture their work through a stop motion application.


Nature Art

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 2-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 19; Oct. 31

Spend Wednesday afternoons with SSA parent Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum creating and imagining! Each class will use a wide range of natural art materials to transform a classroom into something so much more. We will take time to create characters, sets and props and use them to tell stories and enhance imagination skills. Students will have opportunities to sew, papier mâché, collage, paint, draw and write. This is an open-ended art workshop focused on process, creativity and fun.

Hip Hop

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 2-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 19; Oct. 31

Come join Bell Arts Academy on the stage for some high-energy dancing! Once the music starts, the beats will compel dancers to move in time to the rhythm and learn new moves too. Performers will increase stamina, flexibility and balance while also developing more strength and coordination throughout the term. Expect to hear a wide-variety of musical genres from the past and today, and to have some rockin' good fun!

Martial Arts

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.FULL
Fall Term
No classes Sept. 19; Oct. 31

Young martial artists will have the chance to learn from Sensei Greg Sinn, an instructor at Shaolin Studios in Regent Square. The class will include age-appropriate self-defense techniques, evasive movements for escaping from grabs and holds (jiu jitsu) and forms patterned after animals. Predicated on three guiding principles of self-control, respect and discipline, classes include a combination of warm-ups and stretches, kicks/punches/blocks, techniques and strength exercises. The benefits of martial arts are increased confidence, improved focus, strength and discipline.


Grade PK: 3:45-4:05 p.m.
Grades K-1: 4:05-4:30 p.m.FULL
Grades 1-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.FULL
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes Sept. 19; Oct. 31

With 14 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.



Grades K-1: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades 1-5: 4:15-5:15 p.m.FULL
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No class Sept. 13

Joining us since 2008, John Young, a chess expert and instructor at a number of local schools, teaches everything from the basics of the game to winning strategies. His 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.

Dollars & Sense

Grades K-2: 3:45- 4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
No class Sept. 13

SPARK Business Academy leads this innovative class on financial literacy foundations. It also serves as a practical math environment where students learn and reinforce computational skills, while developing a mindset for healthy financial habits. From playing money math games to learning about budgeting through hands-on activities, students will have fun while they enhance their “real-life” math skills! Financial literacy is an essential 21st century skill that will benefit all students, no matter where life takes them

Bulls & Bears

Grades 3-5: 3:45- 4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
No class Sept. 13

Come and learn how investors make (and lose) money in the stock market and how you can start investing successfully at a young age! In this hands-on class, students use a cool stock-trading simulation tool with real-time market data to build a $10,000 stock portfolio, “learning by doing.” Topics include: stocks and bonds, understanding stock price graphs, stock indices around the world, risk, return and diversification, case study on IPOs: SNAP, Facebook, Twitter, “buy low, sell high”, mutual funds and “cool finance math” (e.g., rate of return). A solid foundation for successful future investors!


Grade PK: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades K-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.FULL
Fall Term
No class Sept. 13

The Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club (PGC) returns to bring their preschool and elementary school program to SSA! The program is based on gross motor skills; however, these classes are taught with safety, technique and progression in mind, as set forth by USA Gymnastics (USAG). Classes are structured with close attention and are not "open-gym" style. Kids will perform drills aimed at developing gymnastics skills, coordination, social skills (taking turns, listening, working independently) and flexibility. Coaches will engage the children by making sure the material is fresh, fun and creative.

Soccer Shots

Grade PK: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades K-3: 4:15-5 p.m.
Fall Term
No class Sept. 13

Soccer Shots is a program designed to introduce your child to soccer! Coach Matt is an enthusiastic and energetic instructor who loves working with children. He teaches students basics of the game like dribbling, passing and shooting, but also focuses on concepts such as teamwork, sharing and respect.

In-Service Days/Break Camps

For the 2018-2019 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 techy 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. to 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. 3 – Labor Day
  • Sept. 10 – Rosh Hashanah
  • Sept. 19 – Yom Kippur
  • Nov. 21, 22, 23 – Thanksgiving Break
  • Dec. 24-Jan. 4 – Winter Break
  • Jan. 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Feb. 18 – Presidents' Day
  • April 19 – Good Friday
  • May 27 – Memorial Day

In-Service Day Programs

Sept. 13 - Hopes & Dreams Conferences

Oct. 8 - Columbus Day

Nov. 16 - Evaluation Day

Nov. 26 - Faculty In-Service Day

Dec. 7 - Parent Conferences

Feb. 22 - Optional Parent Conferences

April 1 - Faculty In-Service Day

May 20 - Evaluation Day

May 31 - Parent Conferences

Break Camps

Spring Break Camp, March 18-22
Spring Break Camp, March 25-29


Can my child take enrichment classes and music lessons?

Absolutely! That is the benefit of an all-inclusive program. The full year and term 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 play time, 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 term (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. Play time 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 play time, 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. 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 2018 will open on June 20 at noon at the link below.

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 spring break camp will open on June 20 at noon at the link below. Families may register for all programs offered during the 2018-2019 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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