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 4

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
Three 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

Spring Enrichment Classes

February 26 - May 31, 2018


Around the World in 270 Minutes

Grades PK- 1: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

The world is a big, beautiful, wonderful place! Let's spend our afternoons talking about some of the countries around the world. We'll learn about animals and sample some snacks from these exotic locations too! Music, dancing and map skills will be shared as well. Each explorer will make a passport and a vest to show their families how far they've traveled!

The Climbing Wall

Ages 6 & up: 3:45-5:15 p.m. FULL
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

For those who attended our winter session, keep building upon those newly acquired climbing skills by bouldering and top roping at the Climbing Wall! New attendees, come join us to see what your friends have been talking about! Students will explore the 14,000 square feet of climbing space while building confidence and strength each week. Shoes will be provided for students, and uniforms are fine for climbing. Each student must have a waiver on file in order to attend the class. Class size is limited to 9 participants.


Grades 2-4: 3:45-5 p.m. FULL
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

Jeff McCarroll, Junior School science teacher, will lead a beginning robotics class for students in grades 2-4. Participants will use Lego's NXT hardware and software to learn icon-driven programming. Students will begin with pre-constructed robots so that programming will be the emphasis of the early classes. Programming will cover everything from movement to infra-red sensors. Already have some experience with NXT? This class will give you the opportunity to practice and improve upon your skills. Students are highly encouraged to enroll in this class is they are interested in joining the robotics team in the fall.


Grades 3-5, Boys Only!: 3:45-5 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

Gentlemen, lace up those sneakers and let the running begin! Boys in grades 3-5 will gradually increase their running stamina over the course of the trimester. Students will run on a variety of surfaces, including the trails at Frick Park. Running games will be played to keep the atmosphere fun while strengthening the boys both inside and out. The class will culminate in a 1 mile run in the Kids Marathon on Saturday, May 5.

SSA Jr. Chef

Grades 2-5: 3:45-5 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

Parents, how about a little help in the kitchen? Let former home economics teacher, Sheila Juliane, teach your child the skills to be turned into a junior chef. Students will be preparing and tasting simple breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes as part of a cooperative-learning group. A cookbook will be made so recipes can be prepared at home as well. Bon appetit!

Story and a Snack

Grades PK-1: 3:45-5 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

So many great children's books are associated with food! Why not combine the two into a fun, educational and delicious class for our younger students! Each week, students will put together a yummy treat to enjoy while listening to a story. If You Give a Moose a Muffin? How about we give the muffin to our ASE friends instead?!

Yearbook Committee

Grades 4-5: 3:45-5 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes March 19, 26; April 2; May 21, 28; June 4

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!


Comics Club with Miss Sally

Grades 1-5: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 20, 27

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
No classes March 20, 27

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.

Dek Hockey

Grades PK-K: 3:45- 4:15 p.m. FULL
Grades 1- 5: 4:15- 5:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 20, 27

This is the perfect way to introduce and enhance your skills as a hockey player without the hassle of the skates and ice. Boys and girls can learn the fundamentals and improve on stick handling, passing, shooting, and all around team play. Sticks will be provided. Families who already have a stick can feel free to send one but please make sure there is NO tape on the blade.

Grow Your Tree Yoga

Grade 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 Term
No classes March 20, 27

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.


Creative Crafting and Storytelling

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Spring Term
No class March 21, 28

Spend Wednesday afternoons with SSA parent, Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum, creating and imagining! Each class will begin with a story and then we will use a wide range of art materials to recreate aspects of the story using a variety of materials. We will take time to create characters, sets and props and use them to re-tell stories. Students will have opportunities to sew, paper mache, collage, paint, draw and write. This is an open-ended art workshop focused on process, creativity and fun.

Artful Accessories - Spring Edition!

Grades 2-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No class March 21, 28

Wednesday afternoons have never been so fashionable. Work alongside SSA parent, Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum as students make fabulous spring accessories to wear and share. We will use a variety of techniques and materials to create jewelry, head bands, hair ties and clothing items. Students will learn specific techniques for sewing, bead weaving, crochet, embroidery and fiber arts and how to innovate with diverse art materials to create awesome artful accessories!

Hip Hop

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 2-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No class March 21, 28

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!


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 March 21, 28

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.


American Sign Language

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29

Learn a new language without saying a word! Sign language is the third most commonly used language in the United States. Students will be introduced to American Sign Language through a variety of activities, stories and songs. We'll use our hands and faces to practice vocabulary, basic sentence structure and grammar. The class will combine language learning awareness of Deaf culture. Reed Williams, former ASE Asst. Director, studied ASL at Gallaudet University's summer session for hearing students, and taught independent studies in Sign Language at SSA's Senior School.

Assemble (STEAM) - StoryLab

Grades 3-5: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29

Make some moves! Animate everything you see! Do you like being the boss and the choreographer of the screen? You sound like a computer programmer! Flip through time to tell stories with ANIMATIONS! Use techniques like digital media and stop-motion while you engineer and design kinetic sculptures to make your ideas move beyond the page and screen to their fullest potential. Wiggles are welcome! Characters ready, settings on your mark and GO ANIMATE!


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 March 22, 29

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.

Flag Rugby

Grades 1-5: 4:15-5 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29

Flag rugby is a non-contact team game where the attacking players attempt to dodge, evade and pass a rugby ball while defenders attempt to prevent them from scoring by pulling their belt. It is a fun, fast moving game that only stops after one team has scored a ‘try’ or touchdown. This is a great game for both girls and boys alike! Joe Bendel, ASE lacrosse coach and SSA parent, will lead this action packed class.


Grade PK: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades K-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m. FULL
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29; May 31

The Pittsburgh Gymnastics Club (PGC) returns for the spring 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 asset forth by USA Gymnastics (USAG). Classes are structured with close attention, and are not "open gym" style. The children will perform drills and skills 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.

Math Games and Puzzles

Grades 4-5: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29

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.
Spring Term
No classes March 22, 29

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 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 28 – Memorial Day

Break Camps

Spring Break Camp, March 19-23
Won't You Be My Neighbor? Week

  • Monday: Heinz History Center
  • Tuesday: Children's Museum to celebrate Mr. Roger's birthday
  • Wednesday: Fred Rogers Center
  • Thursday: Making puppets
  • Friday: Mr. Rogers Music Day

Spring Break Camp, March 26-29
On-the-Go Week

  • Monday: Bounce U
  • Tuesday: Sky Zone
  • Wednesday: Fun Slides
  • Thursday: Urban Air

In-Service Day Programs

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

Oct. 9 - Columbus Day
Sports Day

  • Basketball for girls in grades 3-5 with varsity girls' basketball coach Amy Szlachetka and her team
  • Flag Football for boys in grades with varsity football coach Chuck DiNardo
  • Tag, relay races, golf for students in grades PK-2 with the ASE staff

Nov. 17 - Evaluation Day
Fall Cooking Festival

Nov. 27 - Faculty In-Service Day
The National Aviary

Dec. 8 - Parent Conferences
Phipps Conservatory

Feb. 23 - Optional Parent Conferences
Children's Museum

April 2 - Faculty In-Service Day
Carnegie Science Center

May 21 - Evaluation Day
Surprise Field Trip (Wave your Terrible Towels!)

June 1 - Parent Conferences
Blue Slide Park at Frick Park


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 Spring 2018 opens on Friday, January 26! Fall Term 2018 registration will open in early June.

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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