Junior School Head

Welcome to Shady Side Academy Junior School – a place where learning is active and all are loved.  

Shady Side Academy is a vibrant, nurturing learning community that values intellectual curiosity, personal integrity and diverse perspectives. Through a robust program of academics, arts and athletics, our students are inspired to explore their passions, to express their uniqueness, and to become their absolute best by thinking expansively, acting ethically, and leading responsibly. Situated in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood on seven acres adjacent to Frick Park, our Junior School is perfectly positioned to help our students explore and discover the wonders of the world around and within them.

We are a diverse community of children and adults from a multitude of backgrounds, and everything we do in our Junior School is informed by Shady Side’s Guiding Principles of Honesty, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect, and Safety. Physical and emotional safety is crucial for children to learn and to thrive. In a world where health and safety are paramount, and where so many schools struggle to address unkind behavior, our Junior School seeks to go above and beyond to ensure a safe environment and to cultivate a campus culture characterized by kindness by all and to all. (Be sure to ask us about the Shady Side Way!)

At the heart of a Junior School education is our belief that students should experience education actively. Our intentionally small class sizes afford our faculty the time necessary to invest relationally with each child.  Our relationships-first approach to education, combined with vigorous, hands-on academics, expansive extracurricular offerings, and first-class faculty ensure our students develop a love of learning and the foundational skills necessary to succeed along life’s path.

The next step in choosing the right school for your child is to visit our campus and see our Junior School for yourself.  I invite you to reach out today to take one step closer to joining a diverse learning community characterized by curiosity and kindness and fueled by a love of kids, insatiable idealism, and the steadfast belief that the children indeed are our future.

Warmest Regards,

Jennifer Asmonga, Ph.D. 
Head of Lower Schools

Dr. Jennifer Asmonga

Dr. Jennifer Asmonga became head of the lower schools at Shady Side Academy in 2021, overseeing both the Junior School and Country Day School.

Dr. Asmonga has served as the head of Country Day School since 2018 and prior to that she spent a decade at the Junior School, first as a kindergarten and fifth grade teacher and then as a full-time learning specialist. She also served as director of Camp Ren, SSA's middle school summer day camp, from 2009 to 2011. Prior to SSA, Dr. Asmonga was a special education teacher for grades 5-7 at Propel Montour Charter School and a fifth grade teacher at the Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School.

She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in social and comparative analysis in education from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Johns Hopkins University.