Alternative Family Education

Supporting Families for Over 25 Years

Alternative Family Education (AFE) is an independent home study school provided for kindergarten through twelfth grade students and families who prefer an individualized approach to education, combined with the support of school district resources. See the About AFE page for more information. AFE is part of the Santa Cruz City Schools district.

Resource Center Phone & Hours: (831) 429-3898 / Monday–Thursday, 10:00–3:00.

Current Announcements


AFE May Quick Dates, 2019

May 3 AFE Talent Sharing 7:00-9:00 BSSC Multipurpose Room. Details below.

May 10, Different Drummers Field Trip to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey Celebration of Cultures and Languages with Therese

May 11 ROV competition Watsonville High School

May 13 Animals Class Oakland Zoo Field Trip Monday 8:30-3 with Mark

May 17 Prom! 7:00 pm-11:00 pm Portuguese Hall. Details below.

May 24 Soccer Play-offs

May 27-30 Dramatic Lit trip to Ashland with Jasmin

May 31 Soccer All-star game

May 31 6-10 pm Friday. End of the Year  Celebration and Beach Bonfire at Seabright Beach.

June 6th 3 pm-5 pm AFE Graduation and 8th Grade Promotion BSSC Multipurpose Room

Congratulations to "The Tide Fighter" AFE Navigator Division ROV Team 

The Tide Fighter won three awards for their division!
One award was for scoring the most points for the underwater driving missions, and another award was for the best overall score winning 
1st Place in their division!! 
They did an amazing job!! 🙂

Thank you Eric for all you have done during these past two years teaching many students this wonderful class!!

Small Schools Prom

5/17 7:00 pm-11:00 pm. 

All AFE high school students invited.  Theme:  Into the 20's at the Portuguese Hall, 216 Evergreen St.  Tickets on sale April 15th in the main office on campus.  $25 each/$40 couple.


Student News

Congratulations to Tarc Team - Scout, Hunter, Andre & Finn - for making NATIONALS!!! They will head to Washington DC in May to compete with other teams from around the country. 

For those of you who don’t know: TARC means Team America Rocketry Challenge. Only 12 teams from California made it to the Nationals (May 18)!

It takes lots of experimenting to achieve this amazing accuracy: The have to fly a one-stage rocket resembling the Apollo 11 that is at least 650 mm (26.5”) tall and weighs under 650g (less than 1.5 lb), containing three raw eggs (which already weigh ~175g).
It has to be up in the air for 43-46 seconds and reach, as close as possible, an altitude of 856 feet (Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon at 8:56 PM Houston time on July 20, 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission). It has to land safely, with all three eggs whole and unbroken.
No radio or computer controls allowed, only onboard control systems and the required electronic altimeter.

We Wish Scout, Hunter, Andre, and Finn good fortune! And thank you to Zak and all the supporting adults

2019 Spring Science Fair

AFE Student Sophia Alexander-Sidhom acknowledged for her performance in "Love At The Louvre"

Click here for a link to the Santa Cruz Sentinel article

ass Transit Model – Gray Jameson

At the Nov. 13th Green Schools Committee meeting, AFE student Gray Jameson  presented his video model of a future light rail system running from downtown Santa Cruz to Watsonville. Using the Cities:Skylines game platform, Gray imported Santa Cruz locations and landmarks from an aerial map and shows 14 stations along the tracks, with pedestrian and auto traffic. The model Gray portrayed is an Alstom Citadis Spirit zero emission electric light rail vehicle. It runs on an electric battery that partially recharges at stations and from braking.. It has a maximum speed of 65 mph and is a modular design which can be expanded as ridership grows. The county now owns a rail line that could be retrofitted for a battery electric light rail system. 

Gray presented his video to the Watsonville City Council, who voted unanimously to endorse the improved scenario including a rail transit plan. 
In addition, Gray presented his video to the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission on 11/15/18 at their special meeting at Watsonville City Council chambers. 

The Regional Transportation Commission received an in depth presentation from RTC staff highlighting the preferred scenario. This scenario strongly supports and advocates for a rail transportation system that serves our county effectively. The Commission will vote on the scenario they wish to pursue on December 6, 2018, 9am at the County Supervisors Chambers, 701 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.

Gray will continue to work on this project and produce more videos on the subject that will be shared with the community. 

Here is the link to Gray's video:


to ALL who contributed to making this a great year!


• Learning Circle (K-2) with Thérèse Johannesson,

• Bugs Among US (3-5) with Mark Thomas

• Fun with Nature and Art (3-5) with  Joanne Brown

• Ink in Action ( 6-8) with Nancy Aylsworth

• Environment in Action  (6-8) with Peter Deutsch

• Creative Writing (9-12) with Joanne Brown

• Psychology of Success (9-12) with Jasmin Gerer

• Career Explorations (9-12)  with Mark Thomas

• Dramatic Literature (9-12) with Jasmin Gerer

                       and Thank you to all parents who helped and supported our classes!




• Volleyball with Peter Deutsch, Leisl Luddington, Consuelo Holguin-Nussbaum, Ruthie Yarme  

• Basketball with Mark Thomas -  Ruthie Yarme, Meridith Cook, Andrew Hardy

• Soccer with coaches Kris and Darla Damhorst and staff support Therese Johanneson, Peter Deutsch

     Thank you to all the parents who  helped carpool, wash jerseys and cheer on the teams!



Theater at AFE directed by Terri Steinmann and WEST staff, coordinated by Zan LaHara and parents and support from Staff and Jasmin Gerer

 “Arty the Smarty” (K-2) – Kristy Armory & Hiranya Kliesch, with student assistant Isabella Yarme

 “Adventures of Robin Hood” (3-5) – Hiranya Kliesch, Gwin Hight, Zan La Hara

 “Gulliver Unlimited” ( 6-8) – Ruthie Yarme , Leisl Ludington, and playwright Bryn Kanar

 “Canterbury Tales or Geoffrey Chaucer’s Flying Circus”  (9-12) – Darla Damhorst , Zan La Hara, Leisl Ludington, and Cory Meyers

• Open Clay Studio with Kathleen Peppard


• Herb Walk at Pogonip - Thank you Levi Glatt

• JSA Junior State of America — Aidan Brekka, Jacqui Chavez, Cabinet Members and Teacher Advisor Nancy Aylsworth

• Fall, Winter, & Spring Conventions — Thank you to all parent drivers and those who attended conventions with us!!!

• JSA Halloween Family Dance

• JSA Spring Fantasy Family Dance

• Follywood – Thank you to Isaac and the Ludington Family


• US History taught by Rena Dubin

• Comic Art and Storytelling with Bryn Kanar

• Underwater Robotics Class and Teams led by Eric Lamascus

• Show Choir led by Leisl Ludington and Jennifer Alexander

• Maker Monday/Open Art Studio with Hiranya Kliesch, and Zan LaHara

• Team America Rocketry Challenge led by Hunter and Zac Bauman

• Science Fair Support and Coordinator Patti Freedman

• Games Group with Tané Tachyon and Sam Shemitz

• Graduation Lei making with Meridith Cook parents and staff

• Yearbook — editor Zan LaHara and Contributors


• SC County Fair

• Body Worlds Exhibit at the Tech Museum

• JSA Conventions Fall, Winter, & Spring (Thank you to parent drivers!)

• Oregon Shakespeare Festival aka Ashland Trip

• Enrichment Class field trips

• Shakespeare to Go - Romeo and Juliet at USCS 6/8


• Welcome Gathering

• New Family Welcome Gathering

• Camp-out at Camp Loma

• Beach Bonfires

• AFE Fall & Spring Town Hall Meetings

• Family Art Night

• Halloween Dance

• Adopt a Family

• Follywood Film Festival

• Spring Family Dance

• Talent Sharing

• Dia de los Niños Celebration

• Spring Festival Middle School Fundraiser for Homeless Garden and Teenage Mother Program

• Info Evenings for New Families

• AFE Spring Festival put on by our middle schoolers

• High School Prom

• Promotion Celebration, Potluck, Bonfire at Seabright Beach 6/1

• Graduation 6/7


Special Thank You to:

• Parent Club ( see below)

• Drive for Schools Fundraiser  – Zan LaHara and all who participated

• Staff Scrip – Sadie Reynolds & participating families

• Whole Foods cards Ruthie Yarme  & supporting parents

• New Leaf eCards – Linda Handley & supporting parents

• Dia de los Niños Rummage Sale –  Parents and all who donated and worked on all aspects of the event


A shout out to:

• Newsletter editor Rena Dubin for providing us with monthly Quick Dates, news and resources!

• Online Bulletin Board founder Tané Tachyon for continuing to monitor and help with our bulletin board


A Huge Thank You to:

Bria Steinbruner and Gray Jameson for creating the Branciforte Heritage Garden

Mollie Jarrow for volunteering at our library on Tuesdays

Isaac Ludington, Lucy Ludington, Nancy Norris, Sophia Alexander-Sidhom, and Julie Burros, for volunteering many hours at our library

Dara Jameson, Becky and Bria Steinbrunner, Jasmin Gerer, & Theresé Johannesson for gardening, weeding, and beautifying our campus.         


AFE COMMUNITY COUNCIL -Thank you for your leadership and year round meetings to increase communication between staff and families: Lysa Tabachnick, Nancy Aylsworth and the many parents who attended meetings.

PARENT CLUB: We are extremely grateful for the Board: Leisl Ludington, Darla Damhorst, Zan LaHara, Meridith Cook, Ruthie Yarme, our Grade Level Advocates: Lori Kintz, Teya Hardy, Gwin Hight, Hiranya Kliesch, Consuelo Holguin and other participating parents!  Thank you for coordinating fundraising, community building, teacher appreciation and the myriad of ways you support the staff and all families at AFE!

BSSC SITE COUNCIL: We appreciate Lori Kintz and Haley Kintz for attending meetings to represent AFE on our campus Site Council.


Tremendous gratitude and appreciation to our principal, Lysa Tabachnick, for her years of dedicated leadership, great caring, and sharing her heart and mind with students, parents, and staff.

Be sure to check our 
School Calendar for all upcoming classes and events.


Congratulations to AFE for achieving Scholar School status!

The Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) and the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) has announced that AFE has been selected at an Honor Roll "Scholar School".

Scholar Schools are schools that are showing significant levels of academic achievement, but do not have a significant socio-economically disadvantaged student population.

“We are so proud to be recognized by leaders in the California business community for our schools,” said Superintendent Kris Munro. “Our teachers and administrators work tirelessly to keep the focus on high expectations and student academic achievement and to continuously improve our practices. This hard work and dedication is paying off for all of our students, no matter their background.”

Science Fair Success!

What a night for Science! 
On Feb 5  we held the annual AFE Science Fair and showcased work from AFE students pursuing independent research projects.This year students investigated a huge range of questions from how fast to banana slugs go? what's the best temperature for growing crystals? to can you tell when a person is lying?
AFE students showcased some the best aspects of homeschool education; curiosity, self directed learning, and academic excellence.  Special thanks to John Rible, Joanne Brown, Jasmine Greer and the other families who came out to support these students. 
AFE Science Fair Students
Jonah Bell Are Your Pants On Fire?
Palauma Durea Go Slug Go
Nyaumi Durea Tasty Taste Buds
Jiraum Durea Crystal Curiosity
Aumar Durea To Bow or Not to Bow
Kumalo Alm Bicycle Wheel Wind Turbines
Scout Bauman Stress Balls: Stress Breakers or Stress Makers?
Simon Filner Which tape is the strongest:  testing adhesive strength of 3 tapes.

I'd like to extend an invitation for everyone to come out to the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on March 10 @ 5:00PM for the public viewing of all the projects.  You'll be amazed at the work students are doing and maybe even be inspired to do your own project next year. AFE will be sending 8 students onto the next fair competing with students k-12 in the county. 
AFE Students Competing at Santa Cruz County Science Fair
Jonah Bell Are Your Pants On Fire?
Palauma Durea Go Slug Go
Jiraum Durea Crystal Curiosity
Aumar Durea To Bow or Not to Bow
Kumalo Alm Bicycle Wheel Wind Turbines
Scout Bauman Stress Balls: Stress Breakers or Stress Makers?
Simon Filner Which tape is the strongest:  testing adhesive strength of 3 tapes.
Phoenix Rumbaugh Stopping Fresh Water Hazardous Algae Blooms with Native American Fish Stunning Plants

AFE Families: Please subscribe to AFE's Newsletter mailing list
 — Sign up to receive our newsletter via email by filling out the form on our Newsletter page.

• Student Resource Directory — For the first time, Santa Cruz County youth and parents looking for support have a user-friendly online directory of local resources such as nutrition, mentoring and health.

• BSSC has become an affiliate site for Bookshop Santa Cruz. Anything purchased through this BSSC Affiliate link will be credited toward the purchase of new books for our library.

Official Dates & Holidays for 2018-19

August 22 — First Day of School
September  3— Labor Day Holiday
November 12— Veteran's Day Holiday
November 21–23 — Thanksgiving Holiday Break
December 21January 4 — Winter Holiday Break
January 21 — Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
January 18 — Staff Development Day (RC Closed)
February 15 — Lincoln's Birthday Holiday
February 18— President's Day Holiday
April 1–5 — Spring Break Holiday
May 27 — Memorial Day Holiday
June 6 — Last Student Day

Copyright 2015 Branciforte Small Schools Campus