Shady Side Academy Jr. School is an amazing place. My daughter is completing kindergarten now and we could not be happier with our choice to send her to SSA. The faculty and staff are warm and welcoming but also personable and knowledgable about each child that walks through the door. The facilities are bright and airy and conducive to open ended and project based learning. My daughter has absolutely thrived in this environment and we are ecstatic to have found such a good match for our highly creative and analytical kid. We strongly recommend taking a look at SSA- it is not an old-fashioned, male dominated elitist place-- it's a great place for smart kids to flourish and grow into independent and creative thinkers.
We loved their pre-K program, which was very much hands-on and age appropriate. However, this year, they've completely fixed what was a fantastic program into an environment that was much more rigid and traditional learning style - sit, listen and be taught to, not engagement. (Three of the four passionate pre-K teachers are no longer teaching classes.) The leadership and teachers seem to want to help, but with a little more interaction, you'll find that the rumors are true. It's not a very accommodating environment. It doesn't truly advance children who are truly excelling as they're suppose to be accelerated. (The teacher did not realize my child knew phonics and all the sight words taught at the time.) And if your child is underperforming (academically or behaviorally), then expect their recommendation to hold your child back another year to "build their leadership skills." They do create a great sense of tight-knitted community. That, comes with a tremendous amount of involvement from the parents. Parents assist with carpool, in-class events, library, yearbook, provide snacks/breakfast for faculty meetings, to name a few. It's a more prestigious charter school.
My husband and I think the Junior School is a truly remarkable place and has seen some wonderful enhancements within the last few years. Our children are benefiting from a new math curriculum which complements the strong balanced literacy program. The campus is a gem too and last year they added a "farm" to the campus which the children help plant and harvest. Love the teachers and staff and that my child wants to go to school everyday. If you need after school I can't imagine there is a better program elsewhere - it helps us make it all work. So worth taking a look!
Administration in the 2010-11 was very old-fashioned. My child was in Pre-K then. Someone new in leadership was coming, but declined a 2nd year. At an awards assembly certificates were handed out by the administration without smiles and with no feeling. Maintenance needed on the gym roof that year. Old/plastic chairs in the gym for a holiday program. A woman sitting in front of me had her chair totally collapse. Next program, rented wooden folding chairs. They send a very polished looking magazine to donors and parents. You'll read about all the expensive events and then you'll think about the basics the school needs. Paid full tuition. Functionally obsolete items should always get noticed. My husband/brothers went here. My uncle's aristocratic cousin and his son went here.The school is still boy centric. Not quite right for our warm and creative child. Thankfully, we have a great public school walking distance. Happy I could review SSA. There is a general feeling in PGH that you can't make unfavorable remarks about any long-standing institutions.
Don't listen to the other people. This school is amazing I'm in 7th grade and every day when I am with my friends and in class I am having a good time. This school is not to hard but a little challenging I've learned so much from this school.
Shady Side Academy Junior School Art program is excellent! Science, Social studies, writing above average. Math, music, languages, computer just average. Teachers, as with any school, some great and some average. Administration not quite on top of current trends. Basically, Shady Side Academy is overrated. If I would do it over again, I would find a great public school with options for many advanced placement courses. This is something SSA doesn't have. Other schools educate students within a more academically stimulating setting, challenging electives, preparation for AP exams and SAT subject tests, and rigorous classroom experience. In the Senior School, sports and athletics are not an option. Your child will not only be pulled from class to participate in his/her sport, they will still be held accountable for class work they missed in order to compete in the required sport. It's like scheduling math and physics at the same time.
It was okay but not very challenging. Good in reading and writing; really weak in math. The 'everybody's a winner' philosophy gets in the way of allowing children to excel. They should consider grouping students in subjects according to their ability.
Can't say enough good things about the Junior school. We've found all areas of the curriculum to be strong. The reason there are no allowances for gifted students is beacause all classes at Shady Side are considered to be advanced. Take a look at the website, 100% of graduates go on to college. Most go to Ivy League Schools. There is plenty of opportunity for parent involvement and the school holds many fun activites. It is very expensive but there is aid available to those that qualify.
I could not ask for a better education for my child. She receives personal attention and every teacher and staff member knows her by name. The teachers encourage the students' interests and expand on those interests and student strengths. My daughter jumps out of bed every morning to go to school - and anticipates her day. SSA is a challenging environmment but not a stressful one.