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

Kristen  Link
After School Director


  • 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.

2019-2020 Dates and Rates

Term I (12 weeks): Aug. 27–Nov. 15 (PK/K start date Aug. 29)
Term II (12 weeks): Nov. 18–Feb. 21
Term III (12 weeks): Feb. 24–June 2

5 days/week (per term): $1,265
4 days/week (per term): $1,100
3 days/week (per term): $880
2 days/week (per term): $625
1 day/week (per term): $345
Daily Drop-In Rate: $40/day
Fox Chapel Shuttle: $8 for enrolled Explorers, $11 for daily drop-ins, $6/child for two or more siblings enrolled in ASE

Please note: There is no longer a "Full Year" enrollment option. Students must enroll PER TERM. When a student enrolls in three consecutive terms, they will receive the "Full Year" discount, which will be reflected on the payment balance of Term III enrollment.

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 27 - November 15

Classes begin September 9


Mindful World

Grades K-3: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term

Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11
NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14

Mindful World is a unique program combining mindfulness, art, and international cultures to teach children social-emotional skills, literacy, and to be citizens of the world. Bonnie Weiss, owner of The School of Mindful Arts, will guide students through folktales about body awareness, mediation practices, and make shadow puppets to do plays in small groups.

Break the Mold!

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Fall Term
Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11

NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14

There’s no limit to the shapes that kinetic sand can take! Break the Mold gives PK and K explorers the opportunity to get their hands dirty, while dreaming up all the things they can sculpt using tools and molds both conventional and more, well… wacky!

Little Pediatrician School (SOLD OUT)

Grades PK-2: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term

Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28 (6 Sessions only)
NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14; Nov. 4, 11

An SSA favorite, Little Medical School® is back with a brand-new offering! Future Pediatrician class takes a new twist on the traditional expectant sibling offerings. Using role-playing techniques, students will assume the role of a pediatrician and learn how to hold the baby, do an exam just like a real doctor, change a diaper and keep the baby safe. Each Future Pediatrician will receive a disposable white coat, luxury plush baby, an exclusive mini Baby Box® for safe sleeping, activity sheets and a birth certificate.

Woods Play (SOLD OUT)

Grades K-5: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Fall Term
Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11
NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14

Into the woods we go…to play, dig, explore, build and create! 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 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: students will return to school dirtier, muddier, and possibly wetter than when they left. Old clothing and shoes are recommended!

Green Thumbs Gardening

Grades 2-5: 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Fall Term
Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11
NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14

Grow a love of nature and sense of wonder about plants by signing up for this class, hosted by Director of SSA Farms Anna Sekine! Students in grades 2-5 will spend time caring for the chickens and working in the raised garden beds, PK gardens and Foster garden - all on the Junior School campus. They will also have the opportunity to participate in harvesting, tasting and cooking new foods, and preparing the beds for the winter at the end of the term. Let’s dig in!

Yearbook Committee

Grades 4-5: 3:45-5:00 p.m.
Fall, Winter, and Spring Terms

Sept. 9, 16, 23; Oct. 7, 21, 28; Nov. 4, 11
NO classes Sept. 30; Oct. 14

This is a class you don’t want to miss! Students in grades 4 and 5 will work alongside Junior School computer science teacher Karen Sandora to create the Junior School yearbook for the 2019-2020 school year. Participants will take photos during school events and learn how to lay them out using provided yearbook software.




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.
Sept. 10, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12 (No class Sept. 17)

Coach Steve Berger from North Hills High School is back to 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.
Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12

Time to kick it old school with board games! End your day by playing some classics, such as Twister, Candy Land and Snakes and Ladders to get your mind and body moving. In addition to playing games, students will also work together to create their own unique game by the end of the term!

Lab Ratz Science Club (SOLD OUT)

Grades 1-5, 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8 (Five classes only!)

Fun, safe, and educational, Lab Ratz Science Club addresses flagging interest in the sciences among students nationwide. By catering to the natural curiosity of children, Lab Ratz Science Club creates a learning environment where students are led to answers through questioning and hands-on experimentation, rather than with lectures. In addition, the individual creativity of each participant is stimulated to promote problem solving and to apply concepts.


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
Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12

Another ASE favorite, Bodiography, are back with all the moves! Ms. Kaylin Treese will help to establish solid dance foundations with our younger students in ballet, and then build on those steps in Broadway Jazz with our older students.  It is recommended that enrolled PK-K students purchase ballet shoes. NOTE: This is a yearlong class that culminates in a dance recital in May.

Nerf Football

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

Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12

Our Junior School students love to play football during recess, and this class is the perfect way to introduce and enhance their skills. Mr. Bryan Vrcic will teach the fundamentals, such as passing, kicking, running, and all-around team play. Here we go, SSA, he we go!

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Grades 2-5: 4:15-5:00 p.m.
Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5, 12

Do you like to draw? Do you like comic books, web comics, or the newspaper funny pages? In this class, students will develop their drawing skills, create fun and expressive characters, and learn to tell stories visually.  Students will explore classic comic strips and popular cartoon characters in order to develop a unique style and draw their own!


Arts Smarts

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

Sept. 11, 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13 (NO class Oct. 9)

Join ASE’s arts and crafts maven Ms. Chris for an afternoon of fun art projects that will flex your creativity muscles and having you thinking differently about what you see around you! PK-K students will be working on recycled print art, while the 1st-5th graders will be doing easy embroidery projects.

Creative Movement/Tap

Grades PK-1 Creative Movement: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades 2 -5 Tap: 4:15-5:15 p.m.

Sept. 11, 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13 (NO class Oct. 9)

Hit the stage for some high-energy dancing with the instructors from MURRdance! Younger students will learn the fundamentals of movement and engage in creative play through dance, while the older students will take their turn making percussion with their feet as the explore the basics of tap dance! It is recommended that enrolled 2-5 students purchase tap shoes.

Martial Arts (SOLD OUT)

Grades K-2: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Sept. 11, 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13
(NO Class Oct. 9)

Young martial artists will have the chance to learn from the instructors of the Shaolin Studios located in Regent Square! The class will include age-appropriate self-defense techniques, evasive movements from escaping garbs 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. (SOLD OUT)
Grades K-1: 4:05-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m (SOLD OUT)
Sept. 11, 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13 (NO Class Oct. 9)

With 15 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.

Mini Movie Makers

Grades 3-5: 3:45-5:00 p.m.
Sept. 11, 18, 25; Oct. 2, 16, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13
(NO Class Oct. 9)

It’s Hollywood at the Junior School! In this 9-week enrichment course, students will experience movie making from the beginning to the end of the process. Local educator and filmmaker Lindsay Zappala will guide students through creating the script, working through storyboards, acting, directing and editing! Students will come away with a better understanding of the movie making process, more confidence in themselves as performers, and a more refined ability to work creatively with others.


Chess (SOLD OUT)

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

Sept. 19, 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14 (NO Class Sept. 12)

Joining SSA since 2008, John Young, 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 player 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-minutes class to learn the basics.

Story Drama

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Sept. 19, 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14
(NO Class Sept. 12)

Dive into the world of your favorite stories and picture books by becoming them! In this class, students will spark their imaginations using acting skills like mime, role-play, and improvisation to journey with their favorite characters!

Actors' Playground!

Grades 1-3: 4:15-5:00 p.m.
Sept. 19, 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14
(NO Class Sept. 12)

Find your voice and develop your style through creative play and fun theater games! Learn more than how to perform--learn how to do what you do best and do it your way! This class will be taught by ASE veteran drama teacher Nancy McGeever.

Gymnastics (SOLD OUT)

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.

Sept. 19, 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14 (NO Class Sept. 12)

Students are flipping for gymnastics! (Pun intended.) Join this class that’s structured for beginners to learn the basic gymnastic skills and techniques, which focus on flexibility, coordination, and strengthening. Participants will have the freedom to learn and practice their new skills in a safe and supportive environment!

Soccer Shots

Grade PK: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Grades K-3: 4:15-5:00 p.m. (SOLD OUT) 

Sept. 19, 26; Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Nov. 7, 14 (NO Class Sept. 12)

Soccer Shots in a program designed to introduce your child to soccer! Coach Matt is an enthusiastic and energetic instructor who teaches students the basics of the game like dribbling, passing, and shooting. Each week, concepts such as teamwork, sharing, and respected are highlighted and discussed.

In-Service Days/Break Camps

For the 2019-2020 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 have a variety of learning opportunities and adventures both on and off campus!

Rates & Details

In-Service Day Programs
Open to SSA Junior School students only
40 participant maximum

Full-day programs: $75
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 per 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. 2 – Labor Day
  • Sept. 30 – Rosh Hashanah
  • Oct. 9 – Yom Kippur
  • Nov. 27, 28, 29 – Thanksgiving Break
  • Dec. 20-Jan. 5 – Winter Break
  • Jan. 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Feb. 17 – Presidents' Day
  • April 10 – Good Friday
  • May 25 – Memorial Day

In-Service Day Programs

Sept. 12 - Hopes & Dreams Conferences
The Frick Art & Historical Center

Oct. 14 - Columbus Day
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Nov. 15 - Evaluation Day
Fall Festival

Dec. 2 - Faculty In-Service Day
TBD-Stay Tuned!

Dec. 6 - Parent Conferences
TBD-Stay Tuned!

Feb. 21 - Optional Parent Conferences
TBD-Stay Tuned!

March 30 - Faculty In-Service Day
TBD-Stay Tuned!

May 18 - Evaluation Day
TBD-Stay Tuned!

May 29 - Parent Conferences
TBD-Stay Tuned!

Break Camps

Spring Break Camp, March 16-20, 2020

Spring Break Camp, March 23-27, 2020


Kristen Link, After School Director

Kristen Link is excited to meet the SSA students and families this fall as the After School Director! For the past 11 years, she served as the director of education and accessibility for City Theatre, overseeing the growth of the company’s Young Playwrights and Arts Access Programs. Prior to her work at City, she spent several years working in various arts administration offices, schools, and classrooms across Pittsburgh and Boston. Ms. Link holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Bethany College and a master’s degree in theatre education K-12 from Emerson College. 


Can my child take enrichment classes and music lessons?

Absolutely! That is the benefit of an all-inclusive program. The 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. Students 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 $40 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 they are 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 questions regarding registration, billing and suggestions about future enrichment classes. Please contact Kristen Link at or 412-473-4375 


What is the Tax ID number for tax purposes?

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

Register Now!

After School Explorers Registration

After School Explorers registration for Fall 2019 will open on August 12 at 9:30 a.m. 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 is open at the link below. Families may register for all programs offered during the 2019-2020 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!