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


Important Dates

June 6th 3 pm-5 pm AFE Graduation and 8th Grade Promotion BSSC Multipurpose Room. August 21 1 pm-4 pm Fall Paperwork August 22 1:30 pm-3:00 pm New Family Welcome August 28 2:00 pm-4:00 pm Welcome Back Gathering September 3-6 MAP Testing Week September 10 Teacher/parent/student led classes begin September 20 AFE bonfire September 27-29 Community Campout

River Fridays

"River Fridays" are free events I've been hosting for a number of years 

to give families of the various communities in which I live, teach, or 

volunteer another way to connect over the summer, as well as to enjoy 

some of my favorite people and spots on the San Lorenzo River.

This year's River Fridays will be from 11am to 3pm on the 3rd Friday of 

June, July, and August:

June 21 - Highlands Park, Ben Lomond [] Great 

for the youngest ones yet can be challenging for the olders, too. Catch 

invasive crawdads/crayfish!

July 19 - Junction Park, Boulder Creek [] No 

hiking needed!

August 16 - Garden of Eden, Felton [] 

Family-friendly because we get there early enough to set the tone. Fun 

'whitewater' floating.

The Google maps have notes describing the parking and hiking for each 

location; check them for details if they're new locations for you.

Put the dates on your calendar and keep this flyer because I won't be 

sending reminders.

These are family-run events, meaning you're responsible for your food, 

water, transportation (carpooling is encouraged), and keeping track of 

your kids.

As host, I will:

- be in the parking area by 11am to lead new folks,

- stay until 3pm (or later on great days),

- have a basic first aid kit and some wilderness toilet kits (trowel and 

TP) where needed.

No RSVP is required - just arrive by 11am (or soon after) if you want to 

hike in with the group; coming later or leaving earlier is fine. My cell 

phone (831-227-3644) will be on although some of the locations have 

little service. And by all means, bring YOUR friends!

See you on the river!

John Rible <

Beginning Running Group

AFE friends,

I am hosting a summer running group that will meet on Wednesday’s at 6 PM and on one weekend morning at 9 AM.  It is geared for beginning / young runners and as such Is focused on having fun.    Anyone who can jog a mile or wants to get there is welcome.  I am inviting other 6th to 9th graders or beginning 10th grade runners.    Parents are also welcome.

The calendar is here.  As you can see it’s sprinkled around scenic destinations for trail running.

If you have questions or want a ride from the west side, let me know!

Charles Koontz
(614) 208-0885


to ALL who contributed to making this a great year!


• Countries and Cultures (K-5)  with Thérèse Johannesson and Nancy Aylsworth     

• Animals  K-5) with Mark Thomas

• Native American Art (6-8) with Joanne Brown

• Science Fiction  (6-8) with Peter Deutsch

• Global Issues (9-12)  with Mark Thomas

• Communication  (9-12) with Jasmin Gerer

• Different Drummers: World History through Music (9-12)  with Thérèse Johanneson

• Dramatic Literature (9-12) with Jasmin Gerer

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



• Volleyball with Peter Deutsch, and Leisl Ludington, Consuelo Holguin-Nussbaum, Angie Bachtel, Deb McArthur

• Basketball with Mark Thomas  and Andrew Hardy

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


• Open Clay Studio with Kathleen Peppard

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

 Anansi Stories (K-2) —Kristy Amory, Hiranya Kliesch

How to Train a Dragon  (3-6) – Gwin Hight

 'Twas Brillig ( 6-8) –  Zan La Hara  and playwright Bryn Kanar

 Outrageous Fortunes  (9-12)  Ruthie Yarme



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

• Fall, Winter, & Spring State Conventions — Thank you to Thérèse Johannesson for attending Fall State and Jasmin Gerer for Winter State and Lori Kintz for attending all three!

Creative Writing and NaNoWriMo. - Isaac Ludington


Intro to Rocketry - led by Finnigan Cook & Andre Yarme

Cerulean 856 Team America Rocketry Competition Team - Jackson & Makenna Damhorst ,Oscar & Sky Weir

Space Slugs Team America Rocketry Competition Team - Hunter & Scout Bauman, Finnigan Cook & Andre Yarme

Menagerie Quarterly- Editor Isaac Ludington and student journalists  

• JSA Halloween Family Dance

• Follywood – Thank you to Gray Jameson and the Ludington Family


• Underwater Robotics Class and Teams led by Eric Lamascus

World History with Bryn Kanar

Meditation with Ruthie Yarme

• Games Group with Dorothee Ledbetter and Sam Shemitz

• Graduation Lei making with parents and staff, organized by Meridith Cook

• Yearbook  Team— Thank you to all the Pagemakers, Photographers, and organizational support from Joanne Brown, Grace Gamboa, Zan La Hara, Eric Lamascus, Marilyn & Mike L'Heureux, Anne Rumbaugh, Therese Johannesson


• Welcome Gathering

• New Family Welcome Gathering

• Fall & Spring Beach Bonfires

• Year Round - Featured Artist of the Week

• Halloween Dance

• Camp-out at Camp Loma

• AFE Fall & Spring Town Hall Meetings

• Family Art Night- Gingerbread House Making

• Adopt a Family

• Dia de los Niños Rummage Sale –  Joanne Brown, Peter Deutsch and Parents Consuelo Holguin-Nussbaum &  Zan LaHara and all who donated and worked on all aspects of the event


• SC County Fair

• K-5 Pumpkin Patch

• Año Nuevo

* SJ Tech Museum

• Academy of Sciences

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

• Little Basin Middle School Camp Out

• Oregon Shakespeare Festival aka the Ashland Trip

• Enrichment Class field trips

Singing Wood Marimba

Monterey Defense Language School - Language Day.


A shout out to:

• Newsletter editor Isaac Ludington and the students journalists or bringing us the Menagerie Quarterly this year.

Dorothee Ledbetter for recording important events throughout the year and sharing them with our community.

•  Marilyn L’Heureux for photographing events, making collages, and posting them on our AFE facebook page.

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


• SC County Fair

• K-5 Pumpkin Patch

• Año Nuevo

* SJ Tech Museum

• Academy of Sciences

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

• Little Basin Middle School Camp Out

• Oregon Shakespeare Festival aka the Ashland Trip

• Enrichment Class field trips

Singing Wood Marimba

Monterey Defense Language School - Language Day.


A Huge Thank You to:

Mollie Jarrow, Jacqueline Jones, Julie Koontz, Kathy Le, Isaac Ludington, and Sam Shemitz  for volunteering many hours at our library and barcoding all our books so that the library inventory can be accessed online.


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

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

PARENT CLUB: We are extremely grateful for the Board: Leisl Ludington - President, Zan LaHara - Vice President, Meredith Cook - Secretary, Darla Damhorst and Hiranya Kliesch - Treasurers, Grade Level Reps: Hiranya Kliesch (K-2), Gwin Hight (3-5), Teya Hardy (6-8), Lori Kintz (9-12)

Thank you for coordinating fundraising, community building, teacher appreciation and the myriad of ways you support the staff and all families at AFE!


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 – Dorothee Ledbetter & supporting parents

• Dia de los Niños Rummage Sale –  Joanne Brown, Peter Deutsch and Parents Consuelo Holguin-Nussbaum &  Zan LaHara and all who donated and worked on all aspects of the event

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!!

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:


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 2019-20

August 21 First Day of School
September  2  Labor Day Holiday
November 11 Veteran's Day Holiday
November 27–29 Thanksgiving Holiday Break
December 23January 3  Winter Holiday Break
January 20  Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
January 17 Staff Development Day (RC Closed)
February 14  Lincoln's Birthday Holiday
February 17 President's Day Holiday
April 6–10  Spring Break Holiday
May 25 Memorial Day Holiday
June 4 Last Student Day

Copyright 2015 Branciforte Small Schools Campus