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


Student News

Mass 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.

Follywood Results

You can view our Follywood 2018 films on youtube at:" 

Watch the whole event here

A GRAND APPRECIATION to Isaac Ludington for taking on the huge task of directing Follywood, communicating with filmmakers, organizing film submission, helping with scriptwriting, creating the slide show and doing all the technical work that needs to be done to pull off such a big production showcasing fourteen films. 

THANK YOU also to the many contributors:

– our creative filmmakers Oscar Weir, Jackson Damhorst, Bria Steinbruner, Gray Jameson, Theo & Ezra Kliesch, Isla Odenbrett, Theoden & Elwyn Suhrie, Hathaway Hardy, Kai Odenbrett, Keanon Hardy, Cadence Burns, Dylan Slaven, Finnigan Cook & Andre Yarme, Isaac Ludington and the AFE Show Choir 

– the many actors, set designers, camera people, editors, and parents who helped to create films 

– the Scriptwriting Committee led by Dylan Slaven with Isaac Ludington, Spencer Kanar, Hayley Kintz, Aidan Brekka, and Maya Love for their innovative, clever banter. Werner Herzog would be honored. 

– our hosts Dylan Slaven and Zephyra Paxton for their great energy,  theatrical playfulness, and cheesiness :-)

– our dashing presenters Aidan Brekka, Rowan Henderson, Autumn Gafforio, Aliya Glatt, Audrey Lamascus,  Bodhi Trang, Lucy Ludington,  Jackie Chavez, Hayley Kintz, Makenna Damhorst, Morgan Baker, "Auto Swarm” & "Lerik Edbetter”, Spencer Kanar and Sophia Alexander 

– the Decorations Team with Audrey Lamascus, Hayley Kintz, Jackie Chavez, and Luca Lynch, led by Lucy Ludington for creating such a starstruck space and beautiful backdrops for photos

– Luca Lynch and Lucy Ludington for making our coveted golden AFEid Awards 

– the Set up Committee with Aidan Brekka, Sophia Alexander, and Spencer Kanar, led by Gray Jameson for your uplifting power and attention to detail

– Paul Ludington for helping with set up, trouble shooting cable challenges, running sound and remaining cool

– Leisl Ludington for getting the sparkling cider, setting up refreshment tables, decorating, setting up, providing props, a great spirit and much moral support  

– Joanne Brown, Lori Kintz, Darla Damhorst for serving cider, Teya Hardy, Meredith Cook &  Ruthie Yarme, helping at the refreshment table

– Meredith Cook for taking home all the sparkling cider glasses and washing them

– Lori Kintz for taking home the table cloths and washing them 

– Clark Magruder for once again delivering the Academy votes to Follywood and explaining the integrity and safety of this process to the audience

– Peter Deutsch for presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to our beloved Becky Steinbruner

– Dorothee Ledbetter for filming the event so that those who missed it can still enjoy the event by watching it

– Zan LaHar for photo documenting Follywood for the yearbook

– the many parents and AFE staff who helped with clean up after the event

– the WONDERFUL audience of over 160 people for dressing up, bringing lovely refreshments, participating in Follywood hobnobbing, laughing, marveling, and enjoying the films 

Without all of your efforts, involvement, and spirit Follywood would not have been the grand time it was!!! 

The films this year were informative, and entertaining expressions of the filmmakers' personal passions. For those of you who missed the 14 fabulous submissions, 

here are the categories and nominees of this year’s event (the winners are bolded):

You can view our Follywood 2018 films on youtube at 

Best Spy Film

  • Double oh seven with extra fries by Burger King
  • Smitten by Oscar Weir and Jackson Damhorst
  • Spy Kids 5: Spy Middle-Aged Adults by I was a Disappointment

Most Dirt

  • Branciforte Small Schools Heritage Garden Project by Bria Steinbruner and Gray Jameson
  • Dirt: A 12-Hour Documentary by Werner Herzog
  • Dirt: The Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda

         Better Than the Original 

  • Titanic 2 Electric Boogaloo by It’s in Space This Time
  • Scenes From a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Theo and Ezra Kliesch
  • Snow White Reimagined Redone Remade Recreated 2 by Creativity is Dead

Best Use of Paint

  • Van Gogh Away Mom, I’m Playing Minecraft by Minecraft IS Art
  • Throwing Canvas at Paint by Packson Jollock
  • Painting a Sparkle Unicorn by Isla Odenbrett

Best Nature Documentary 

  • Dirt: An 11-Hour 59-Minute Documentary by Werner Herzog (Hey, I trimmed it down! Please give me an award.)
  • Fnoomphkins: A Documentary by Theoden and Elwyn Suhrie
  • The Antarctic Snow Seasel World Takeover by Lucy Ludington

Best Vision for the Future

  • CalTrain Santa Cruz by Gray Jameson
  • 20/20 vision but I can’t see the future, by give me an award anyhoo.  
  • Kanye West for President 2020 by Kanye West

Best Costume Design

  • Anything by The Great Morgani
  • How My MomDresses Me by The Cool Kids
  • Trying on Costumes by Hathaway Hardy 

Most Epic Battle

  • Humans vs Earth by Climate Change
  • Werner Herzog’s Seven Hour-Long follywood Film vs the Three-Minute Time Limit by Werner Herzog
  • Strider by Cadence Burns

Best Superhero Movie

  • Fastest Man Alive by CORN WAZOWSKI 
  • Batmale vs Riddlemaker by Dylan Slaven
  • I Fell into a Radioactive Vat of Dirt by Werner Herzog

Best Use of Sharpies

  • Why We Only Have One Moon by Kai Odenbrett
  • The Walls of a Public Restroom by Edgy Santa Cruz Teens
  • Top 10 everyday items you can use as weapons by


  • Boom!!!! by Michael Bay
  • Olympic Motorized Flamethrower Baseball Skiing by Elon Musk
  • Red Ball Sports Drink by Andre Yarme and Finnigan Cook

Slowest Motion

  • Slo-Mo Launching by Kaenon Hardy
  • Oh Look, an Old Friend! by Moms at Supermarkets
  • 5 O’Clock Traffic Between Morrissey and State Park Drive by You’re Gonna Be Late

 Best Music Video

  • Me Screaming at Dirt For Eight Hours by Werner Herzog
  • The Loudest and Most Startling Sound by THX
  • Seasons of Love by AFE Show Choir  

Best Use of Outer Space

  • Gravity by Isaac Newton
  • Space Cadets by Isaac Ludington
  • There is no space by the Flat Earth Society 

I'm already looking forward to next year’s event!


Comic Art and Storytelling class

Check out the stories and artwork done by AFE students last semester in the Comic Art and Storytelling class. The final projects, bound in one volume, are available for your perusal in the RC on display near the New Books shelf. 

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