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What Our Families are Saying

Family School’s program does not concern itself with memorizing facts and grades; rather, it teaches students how to think. That is the beauty of this program — it teaches you how to think.

~  Josh Ludwigsen, 2011 Family School Graduate


text85594 6Family School has been a major part of our family’s life for 20 years. This innovative program has allowed us as parents to take a very active part in the learning process of all five of our boys. Together we have used the critical thinking and problem solving based curriculum to explore the expanses of both our minds and our relationships with each other. Loving to learn and being with other families who enjoy their children as much as we do makes for a limitless environment of learning. We cherish the program and what it has done and continues to do for our family. We are lifelong learners.

~ Karen Stockham and Family



Combining classroom education and homeschooling, Desert Willow Family School has provided a safe, family-oriented approach that fosters personal responsibility in our children’s learning.  Although it consistently has the highest test scores in the state, that is not why we chose this alternative school for our children.  It is because the kids learn how to critically think and problem-solve, becoming life-long learners. Our children have been motivated by the challenges set forth by the teachers, while we, as parents, have been able to take an active role in our children’s education.  We will forever be grateful for this school.

~  The Barkocys


Family School has been a Godsend for us!  Our two children were formerly at a private school with a curriculum that taught primarily to auditory learners, and gave worksheet after tedious worksheet for homework.  For one of my kids, it was easy and just plain boring; for the other - a primarily visual learner -  it was a very poor fit.  I was concerned not only that she was having to work way too hard to just be "average", but more tragically that she may grow to hate learning.   At Family School, the kids (and parents and teachers) LOVE learning!  And because they embrace the fact that there are all types of learning styles in the community, they teach to the students' strengths, as well as helping them develop strategies to improve the areas of learning where they are weak.  Expectations run high and the workload is not for the faint of heart, BUT I wouldn't send my kids anyplace else. 

~ Kelli Lee and Family


After seventeen years at Desert Willow Family School, I could spend the rest of my life trying to capture in writing some small part of what has astonished me about this amazing school.  The stories of learners--their challenges and successes--have become an integral part of what I know about teaching, learning, and being human. 

If I could point out only one important and distinguishing characteristic of Family School, it would be this:  each student is seen.  In Family School's small learning community, all teachers are trained to deeply engage each student's thinking and learning practices.  Because of this, every student is able to construct an individual and important place in the Family School learning community.  The result is that all students become visible to their classroom, their families, and--in the end--themselves. 

Years after leaving Family School, students point fondly to their Family School experience as a pivotal episode in their learning story.  In fact, most people who have experienced Family School--from parents to students to teachers--recognize the instrumental role this amazing school has played in shaping their views on the world, education, and ultimately their lives.  

~  Kris Stephens,  Former Family School Teacher


For me, the experience of Family School is unlike any other. The kids, teachers, and the environment are designed to allow all students to reach their highest potential. For students of any capability, Family  School will push them to their fullest extent and shape them into students other schools will not."

  Sky Willard, 2011 Family School Graduate


Of all my time in the public schooling system, the years at APS Family School assisted my education the most.  I recently graduated with a Master’s in Computer Science from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and work for Sandia National Laboratories here in Albuquerque New Mexico.  The family school program emphasizes the skills which both institutions for higher education and employers desire.  The program designs the curriculum around activities which require students to work in team environments in such a way that requires the students to use critical thinking.  The Family School program has enough flexibility to allow teachers to tailor lessons and assignments around the individual students, which helps make the learning process enjoyable leading to better retention of information by all students. Family School recognizes that students are individuals, and thus all learn different materials at different paces, and through different means. When I started in the program in third grade I had excelled at math for years, while at the same time struggled with my writing. The methods used in my previous classes worked for other students, but did not strike the right chord with me. The flexibility of the program allowed me to study math at a higher grade level and helped me improve my written communication not only to grade level, but to the point that I could thrive in high school and college classes later in life. The Family School program also puts an emphasis on the role of the family unit in education.  I frequently hear the complaint about our current education system that the family unit lost its role. Because parents come up with and work with part of the lesson plan, the family has a prominent and important role for students in the program. Since there is such involvement by the families of Family School students, teachers are not ‘babysitters’ during class and can spend their time and energy designing new and better ways for their students to learn.

The educational system in New Mexico and the United States as a whole would be far better off if alternative education programs like APS Family School were the standard for our education system instead of the exception.

~ Jason, 1990 Family School Graduate



On my first visit to Family School I was impressed!  Twenty years later I am still impressed with the learning on a daily basis!!  You have to visit Family School to truly experience what I am talking about!   If you are looking for a great experience for your students, call and ask to visit or attend one of the wonderful performances such as Art and Poetry or the end of the year plays they produce as one of the student learning projects.  You won't be sorry!! I am very proud that while I served on the Board of Education, I watched as this school grew into the true school of excellence it is today!  Where else can you find a school that has such a dedicated staff with dedicated parents? Check this one out!

~  Mary Lee Martin,  Albuquerque School Board 1987-2009