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.
  • ASE is capped at 95 attendees/day.

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

winter Enrichment Classes

November 19, 2018- February 21, 2019


Fun with Legos!

Grades PK- 1: 3:45- 4:15 p.m. FULL
Grades PK- 1 4:30- 5:00 Second session added!

Winter Term
No classes Nov. 19, 26; Jan. 21; Feb. 18

Students in this class will work together each week, alongside Courtney Nassar, to complete challenges, create different forms of art, tell stories, and construct masterpieces... all with LEGOS! Students in this class are encouraged to enroll in the in-service day program that will be held on December 7th where we will go to the Carnegie Science Center to see The Art of the Brick exhibit!


Grades PK- 1: 3:45- 4:15 p.m. FULL
Winter Term
No classes Nov. 19, 26; Jan. 21; Feb. 18

When the weather outside is frightful, playing inside with Play-Doh is delightful! Join the ASE staff as they put out cans of play-doh and different tools each week for students to roll, pound, squeeze, and sculpt. Playing with the dough is great for fine motor skills, and also a good way to bring some calm during the long, winter months.

Ping Pong

Grades 2- 5: 3:45- 4:45 p.m. FULL
Winter Term
No classes Nov. 19, 26; Jan. 21; Feb. 18

They've asked for it, and here it is! Since last school year, SSA students have been begging for a ping pong class to learn some new skills and tricks, and to challenge each other to matches to see who can be crowned the "Champ of the Table". PE Teacher, Karen DiFiore, will monitor this class and hone those paddle skills. Don't miss out!

Self-Portrait Study

Grades 2- 5: 4:15- 5:15 p.m.
Winter Term
No classes Nov. 19, 26; Jan. 21; Feb. 18

Join Courtney Nassar as we explore and learn about artists and their signature styles. Students will create a portfolio of self-portraits inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jim Henson! Art lovers will be inspired by this class!

Yearbook Committee

Grades 4-5: 3:45-5:00 p.m.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No classes
Nov. 19, 26; Jan. 21; Feb. 18

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!



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 Nov. 20; Feb. 19

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.

From the Earth to the Moon

Grades PK- 1: 3:45- 4:30 p.m.FULL
Grades PK- 1: 4:30- 5:15 p.m.Second session added!

Winter Term
No class Nov. 20; Feb. 19

If your child has their feet on the ground but their eyes looking towards outer space, then this is the class for him/her! Students in this class will enjoy 5 weeks of terrarium building, while learning about different plants and their needs and care. For the remaining 5 weeks, they will prepare for a mission to the moon by creating jet packs, space helmets, and their own lunar exploration spacecraft. We recommend a visit to the Heinz History Center during this portion of the class to visit the Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit!

Jr. Drama

Ages 6- 8: 3:45- 5:00 p.m.FULL
Winter Term
No class Nov. 20
Performance Feb. 12

For those of you who enjoyed the Ovation Drama Camp during SSA's Summer 2018, we bring you Jr. Drama! This class is led by Pa. Lottery commercial star and Jr. School favorite substitute teacher, Nancy McNulty-McGeever and supported by Courtney Nassar, ASE teacher of Classic Games, Stop Motion Animation, Self-Portrait Making, and Fun with Legos! Actors in this class will receive roles in a beloved childhood tale and perform live on-stage on February 19th in Withers Gymnasium at 4:30 p.m. Class size is limited!

Tinker Tuesday

Grades 2- 5: 3:45- 4:45FULL
Winter Term
No classes Nov. 20; Feb. 19

Let's reuse old materials to make something new! Try taking apart old toys and turning them into working flashlights. Use extra wire and scavenged rocks to make a picture frame. Create a racing vehicle out of bottle caps and tubes! During Tinker Tuesdays, we will explore what it takes to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and have fun experimenting during the process!


Paper Projects

Grades PK-K: 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Winter Term
No class Feb. 20

Spend some time on Wednesday afternoons enjoying classic paper crafts, led by current SSA parent, Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum. Students will use paper to create a variety of 2D and 3D projects including mosaic collages, faux stained glass, pop up cards, origami and paper sculptures. The class will provide kids with a great way to express their creativity as we play with paper.

Handsewn Stuffies

Grades 1- 5: 4:30- 5:15 p.m.
Winter Term
No class Feb. 20

Each student will work to create a completely original handsewn project (like a stuffed animal or accessory). Led by current SSA parent, Rachel Kutz-Flamenbaum, students will design our projects, use the design to create our own patterns, identify, prepare materials and sew the projects. After creating the base projects they will explore ways to embellish the creations with embroidery, applique and fabric paint. This class will model the processes of design, crafting and detailing to create truly one-of-a-kind masterpieces!

Hip Hop

Grades PK-1: 3:45-4:30 p.m.FULL
Grades 2-5: 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Winter Term
No class Feb. 20

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
Winter Term
No class Feb. 20

Young martial artists will have the chance to learn from Master Steve Nakamura, Chief Instructor, and Sensei Greg Sinn, from 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.
Fall, Winter and Spring Terms
No class Feb. 20

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.

Theater Performance & Production

Grades 3- 5: 3:45- 5:15 p.m.
Winter Term
Performance Feb. 20

Do you have a child who is curious about acting and what goes on behind the scenes of a show? If so, then let them release their inner thespian in this class! Students will learn the art of theater collaboration as they write, produce, and star in their own five-minute ensemble theater piece. Nancy McNulty-McGeever, New York actor and teacher, leads this class which differs from our Jr. Drama class by putting the actors in the driver's seat for script writing! Families are invited to attend a performance on February 20th in Withers Gymnasium at 5:15 p.m.!


Robot Games and Engineering Challenges

Grades K- 2: 3:45- 5:00 p.m.FULL
Winter Term
No class Feb. 21

Have you ever wanted to create a game for robots? Do you like to build architectural structures and test their integrity? Have you ever wanted compete in a Hexbug or Brushbot battle? Bring your creative mind and questions to Robot Games and Engineering Challenges, hosted by Assemble, a community space for arts and technology located in Garfield. Class activities will include the use of stop-motion animation, circuit blocks, Scratch programming, Makey Makey invention kits, robot mice, Brushbots and Hexbugs, and a cardboard challenge!


Grade PK: 3:45- 4:15 p.m.
Winter Term
No class Feb. 21

Work on your creativity and fine motor skills! Our PK friends will work on perler bead projects which can be ironed and cherished forever. Students will also create jewelry and key chains to wear and share, plus a lovely nature inspired beaded suncatcher.


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 Feb. 21

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.


Grades PK- K: 3:45- 4:15 p.m.
Grades 1- 5: 4:15- 5:00 p.m.
Winter Term
Note: This class will meet every other week. Dates:
Nov. 29, Dec. 13, Jan. 10, 24, Feb. 7, 21

Geology is the science that deals with the earth's physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it. This fun, hands-on, and visually stimulating class will introduce students to some basic geologic concepts. Kids will learn the three basic rock types, examine the internal structure of our planet, and view images of beautiful fossils, gems, minerals, and landscapes. We will also talk about some of our country’s National Parks. Students in this class may be interested in visiting Geology Rocks! And Minerals Pittsburgh located in Lawrenceville. This class will be led by current SSA parent, Emily Glick, who is a registered professional geologist with the State of Pennsylvania.

The Climbing Wall

Ages 6 & up: 3:45- 5:15 p.m.FULL
Winter Term
No class Feb. 21

The winter can be long and dreary. Keep the blues away by bouldering and top roping at the Climbing Wall! Students will explore the 14,00 sq. ft. 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 8 participants.

Tae Kwon Do

Grades 1- 5: 3:30- 4:15 p.m.FULL
Winter Term
No class Feb. 21

"Hi Yah"- "Pow"- "Kablam"- "Kihaa"- however you say it, prepare to have some fun! Kick off your shoes and join us for a fun and exciting tae kwon do training session like none other. Join Alexis Bayer, the highest ranking student at Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do in Fox Chapel, as we strengthen our minds and bodies. Parents, your child will learn discipline, respect, and the keys to staying safe at home, school, and anywhere their feet may take them. Kids, prepare to yell, kick, punch, and break boards all while having fun with your friends and classmates!

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, 40 participant maximum
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
The Frick Art & Historical Center

Oct. 8 - Columbus Day
Maker Day!

Nov. 16 - Evaluation Day
Fall Festival

Nov. 26 - Faculty In-Service Day
Hatch- Fall

Dec. 7 - Parent Conferences
Carnegie Science Center

Feb. 22 - Optional Parent Conferences
Children's Museum

April 1 - Faculty In-Service Day
Hatch- Spring

May 20 - Evaluation Day
PNC Park

May 31 - Parent Conferences
Blue Slide Park

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 Winter 2018 will open on October 23rd at 10:00 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 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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