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Shady Side Academy Reviews

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When I started at SSA, I really hated it. I thought no one cared about me there and that I was completely alone, especially going into my freshman year of high school. Despite this, I realized in the last three years that that loneliness was self inflicted and that this school has done nothing but facilitate my growth as a person and a student. The teachers have been nothing but helpful and I could not be more grateful to be in such a wonderful environment. After all that time of resenting my surroundings, I'm really living a full and happy life here at Shady Side, and I'm really excited to move on, if just to come back in five years for my reunion.
Do not be fooled by the facilities, not worth the tuition cost. Despite some amazing faculty, there are plenty of duds and unfortunately the overall education is mediocre. There has been turn over in the administration but the Middle School Campus is the hold out and for any pretween/tween student that does not conform to the rigid expectations at the Middle School there will be many emails, meetings and overall negativity toward the student generated. The Senior School does a better job with student autonomy and support for student interests/passions, but still a disappointment, even for their most strong and capable students. There have been positive changes the school has made over the last 6 yrs but it has a long way to go. SSA should shake off the culture of elitism & until it succeeds it will be stuck being an ordinary high school with awesome facilities that costs a lot of money to enroll.
All three of our children attend SSA and we are so pleased! The individual attention they have received is extraordinary! We love the advisory program... we marvel at the efforts these teachers have made to know our children. Extraordinary!
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Shady Side has been a fantastic school for our son. He was very happy in the Upper St. Clair school system but chose to attend SSA for the exceptional hockey experience combined with excellent academics. We have seen him grow and mature in so many ways. A naturally quiet kid, the small class size encouraged him to contribute more and integrate into class dynamics. His hockey experience has been phenomenal as well. We couldn't be more pleased with our decision to send him to SSA. Thank you SSA for providing such a great place to develop life skills, character, sports ability, and academic success!
Our daughter transitioned to the senior school in ninth grade. The experience has been excellent. The best part about the school is the people. The faculty and staff are caring people who are invested in the students. We appreciate the small class sizes, strong academics and atmosphere. It was easy for our daughter to meet new friends especially through participation in sports.
Our experience at Shady Side Academy has been outstanding. Our daughter came to the school as a Sophomore after our family moved to Pittsburgh, and her transition was seamless. The students, faculty and administration made her feel a part of the Shady Side community from our first visit. The culture at SSA is extremely welcoming and inclusive for both the student and their family—it’s truly a partnership.
Academics at Shady Side are rigorous, but the support from teachers is unmatched. We feel confident that our daughter will be successful not only in college, but beyond, due in large part to her time at Shady Side Academy.
If you’re even slightly considering Shady Side as an option, I encourage you to attend one of their Open House events. That was the first step we took, and I’m so grateful that we did!
Could not ask for more for my son. What a wonderful place for him to grow. So glad he is finally being challenged academically. Seeing him come out of his comfort zone while trying new sports, and diving into the arts programs has been life changing! Thank you SSA for bring out the best in our son. Cannot wait to get my other children in your hands!
As the parent of two lifers and recent graduates, I am able to look back on their Shady Side Academy experience and see where they are now - one entering his senior year and one working at her dream job. Shady Side prepared them to succeed at two top colleges, but more importantly helped them learn how to advocate for themselves, be thoughtful decision-makers, and people prepared for a world that needs them to be global citizens.
We pulled our son out of public school after he finished his 7th grade year. At great financial cost, we chose to send him to Shady Side. It was one of the best choices we ever made. He thrived in the rigorous environment and was given so many skills that still serve him to this day. The academic environment was amazing with all of his core instructors meeting monthly to assess his specific strengths and weaknesses and agreeing on action plans to address both.

His experiences provided the credibility to gain admittance to MIT. We were just middle class and after the first year the school found an alumni who provided financial support for our son through the remainder of his tenure there. Our son wrote a thank you letter to this benefactor every year to express his gratitude for the generosity being provided.

Our son still regularly thanks us for having afforded him the opportunity to have attended this great institution.
I am a senior at Shady Side Academy. I love that the school has so many opportunities for students, especially travelling abroad.
Shady Side Academy has supplied me with a great education and a fantastic support group. The teachers are always willing to help out no matter what the problem is. The students are all supportive, and together, they make a beautiful community of students from different races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
I believe that the "Shady Side" experience is unique from other schools in the Pittsburgh area. The faculty has a genuine concern for each student's success. When struggling with a specific unit my teachers would reach out in order to help me improve and get prepared for the next test. Shady Side also prepares every student for their journey after high school; whether that's college or athletics Shady Side will support your pursuits.
Shady Side is my elementary and middle school alma mater. We don't have the best sports teams, and we're not always the top ranked private schools. But what we do have is unity and care for one another. Our relatively smaller classes bond us together as if we were a part of a larger family. This environment is possible because of the love the teachers showed us. I am thankful to have been a part of this school.
I am a parent of a high school student. We are very grateful to have been a part of Shady Side Academy family. The school does an excellent job helping students develop into responsible adults who can argue their opinions in a respectful way. The faculty is extremely inspiring and motivating. My child built very strong relationships with some members of the faculty which played a big role in her success.
Overall, I'd say I had a great experience here. The teachers are all friendly and committed to what they do. The small class sizes means it's super easy to talk to your teachers for extra help- all you need to do is ask. I found the resources provided extremely helpful for my college search. As many have pointed out, diversity is a bit lacking, but was getting better by the time I graduated. Also, they have fairly swell sandwiches at the dining hall, and the campus as a whole is beautiful.
Shady Side Academy was a great experience all around. I made life long friendships with students and the teachers. The teachers are what make this school stand out. They’re dedication to making sure the students have a strong foundation for college and life in general is what makes Shady Side so special.
While there are many talented and caring faculty members here, the school itself has a deeply toxic culture of passive aggressive homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. It's local reputation for snobbery and elitism precedes it. The administration goes out of its way to spin really awful campus events and moves so slowly on things that many of the minority students believe that what happens to them doesn't matter. In general, the culture at Shady Side is very much one of, "If what you have to say about Shady Side isn't that it's a marvelous place that people should be grateful to be a part of, then it simply isn't true." Make no mistske--this is a school full of unhappy teachers and students who are very scared of making waves. Buyer beware.
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Our oldest child started at SSA in kindergarten and had such a great experience that the next year we brought our 2nd child to the prek program. We have been at SSA for almost 4 years now and the teachers are very attentive. One of the biggest reasons we decided on SSA was the small class size which allows teachers to differentiate for those who need extra help to challenge them or help them understand something they are struggling with. I have been most impressed with report cards because they are a testament to how well teachers know their students. There are no numbers or letters and this can be difficult if you want concrete numbers/letters but when you read the numerous paragraphs the teachers write about your child it is abundantly clear that they really know your student from their interests, abilities, challenges, and personality. To me, teachers that take time to get to know their student is exactly what you want.
The education at SSA is fantastic. I learned how to think, write and learn in unique and beneficial ways. However, the culture of elitism and bullying amongst the students made my experience difficult and one that I would not recommend to other students. The education is worthwhile, but not always at the cost of individual happiness.
I have three children that currently attend Shady Side Academy, each of which transitioned from O'Hara Elementary School to the SSA Middle School in 6th grade.

My experience with the school has been excellent. The quality of the faculty, staff, students, coaches and facilities are top notch. I am most impressed by the faculty advisor program. The advisor: advisee ratio is small, and the advisors connect with each of the students and help them navigate all aspects of the school. The advisors work with the faculty and pay attention to how each of the students is doing. In addition, the faculty members issue episodic interim reports to the advisor, parents and the student if the student is struggling or experiencing success. This early warning systems has proven successful for my children.

I also find the Shady Side community to be a very inclusive environment that engages all types of students, regardless of their background or interests.