Why Abrome?

Education should be a liberating experience that allows people to lead remarkable lives so they can positively impact society and improve the human condition.

In order to prepare young people to do the remarkable, Abrome provides them with a non-coercive, psychologically safe, inclusive, interdependent community that allows them to identify and engage in deep, meaningful, and enduring learning experiences while being in relationship and co-creating culture with others. Our focus on well-being, Self-Directed Education, and community allows Abromies to embrace the present while building a future of lifelong inquiry and learning, academic and career excellence, and emotional and social wellness. Our anti-oppression and justice-oriented approach to building community allows Abromies to recognize and understand systems of domination and power so they can navigate the world we live in while creating a better, more liberatory world for the future.

Abrome is a Self-Directed Education community that is an alternative to conventional schooling and dominant culture, where young people get the opportunity to lead remarkable lives. Abrome is Emancipated Learning.

How is Abrome different?

Functionally, we are quite different from conventional schools. We have no teachers or students. We have no homework, testing, grades, or rankings. We have no formal curriculum, classes, or age-based segregation.

It is the theory and practice of Emancipated Learning that really makes Abrome different. Abrome is a Self-Directed Education community that believes that all people should have the right to make the decisions that are most relevant to their own lives. Children are people, too.

At Abrome, we believe that every young person is competent and has an inborn love of learning. Instead of trying to mold young people into some preconceived notion of success, we provide young people with a psychologically safe space that is anti-oppressive and consensus-based, where they have the autonomy to engage in meaningful learning experiences and unlimited free play without the fear of being assessed, judged, or ridiculed.

How long has Abrome been around?

We opened our doors as a learning community on August 22, 2016. The current iteration of Abrome will formally close on June 2, 2023, and we will relaunch again when we have twenty new enrolled Abromies. Our desired restart date is September 5, 2023.

Why is Abrome relaunching?

We felt it was necessary to let go of practices and mindsets that were not allowing us to cultivate a powerful and caring community that makes for collective and individual flourishing. This relaunch will help make our vision a reality. Learn more on our relaunch page.

What is Abrome’s commitment to community care?

Abrome is a youth liberation project. We cultivate a protected space for children and adolescents to be acknowledged, valued, supported, and trusted. It is a space where young people’s autonomy is respected and where they get to practice freedom. A commitment to community care is paramount to these priorities.

Community care means centering the needs of those who would be most impacted by our decisions and actions, and leveraging our privilege to support them. While we value our autonomy, we choose to recognize and limit the harm that the expression of our autonomy may cause. Individual freedom without regard for the welfare of others is not freedom for all, so it is not freedom at all; it is just micro-forms of domination.  

Everyone at Abrome has a responsibility to honor our commitment to community care. Those who are not yet able or willing to practice community care are not a good fit for Abrome. Because our liberation is bound up together, our expression of community care also extends to those outside of Abrome. 

At Abrome we are concerned about two worlds. There is the world that we live in, that we need to learn how to navigate; and there is the world that we want to live in, and we choose to live prefiguratively in order to help bring that world into being. That is why we prioritize community care.

Expressions of community care:

  • Over the past three years we have taken a multilayered approach to preventing the spread of COVID that has resulted in zero cases of COVID in our space. Our pandemic plan for this academic year continues to center those most impacted by the pandemic.

  • We overtly stand with trans people, BIPOC communities, the houseless, and immigrants, and we will always refuse to comply with state dictates or laws that target them.

What makes Abrome better than other alternative private schools?

We have a unique approach to education that is not replicated by any other alternative private school. In fact, we do not consider Abrome to be a school. However, whether we are “better” than other alternative private schools depends on the unique needs and goals of each young person and their family.

Is Abrome a better alternative for my child?

Self-Directed Education is a clearly superior alternative for young people relative to conventional schooling. But, because each young person is different, we may not be the best option for every one of them. Fortunately, there is a growing number of alternative schools in the Austin area that may fit the unique needs of your children, while unschooling is accessible to most families and communities. Please review the Abrome website before applying, starting with the page, Is Abrome right for you? 

How do young people learn if there is no formal instruction?

Teaching and learning are not two sides of the same coin. Teaching only produces learning when the recipient chooses to learn. Learning, on the other hand, is natural and happens all the time. We are biologically wired to try to understand the world around us and our place within it. This is why, for example, babies learn to crawl, walk, and talk without being explicitly taught. Instead, they look at who and what exists in the world around them, copy and experiment with what they see, practice and learn the skills they need to grow in independence and connectivity to others. 

Although we do not prioritize teaching over learning, teaching does happen at Abrome. When a young person requests direct instruction, Facilitators will prioritize that request. However, the Facilitators will first engage with the young person to better understand their needs, priorities, and goals, and help the young person determine the best way forward to acquiring the knowledge or skills they seek. This may result in the young person seeking out an online resource, a tutor, an expert, another trusted adult, or even a fellow Abromie to teach them. In learning communities that value authenticity and collaboration, it’s inevitable that we’ll teach each other. Sometimes this happens through classes and workshops, sometimes through conversations and modeling. But it’s always happening.

But how will my kids learn the basics?

If something is actually basic knowledge that one needs in order to live successfully in this world, one cannot help but learn it. The “basics” will be captured in kids’ natural learning, which happens through living. We don’t need to force or trick them into learning something basic. Basic knowledge and skills are defined by our current world. Whereas once it may have been basic to know how to saddle a horse, today it is basic to know how to open a web browser. The rich world environment in which we operate sets us up to prioritize knowledge and skills reliably and naturally based on our experiences.

On a day-to-day basis, this may look like a young person asking others how to read or write certain words needed to play a game, trying an offered math challenge, joining a discussion group based on a book, or learning to navigate a computer by watching others. Some young people also may request help from a Facilitator, which we are always happy to do.

Do you refuse to teach them reading and math?

We do not refuse to teach them anything that they want to learn. We just don’t formally mandate it. At Abrome, young people understand that they are responsible for their education, and that we are here to support them. Every young person wants to understand how to read and write, and how to work with numbers. And in most cases, they develop those fluencies on their own, cobbling together experiences and resources as needed. Reading, writing, algebra, and calculus may be more or less challenging for a given child based on their unique circumstances and learning profile, but when they choose to engage with it, they typically learn it much more quickly and in a more efficient manner than they would if they were seated in a classroom learning the same material. Anecdotally, although we do not teach young people to read, and though we place no urgency on having kids learn to read by a certain age, we have never had someone not learn to read later than the age of nine.

Can you help students with learning differences’?

We are eager to welcome young people with learning differences into our community. We consider learning differences to be a form of diversity that everyone can benefit from. More importantly to the young person who has been labeled, Abrome allows them to engage with the community in ways that acknowledge their needs, goals, and interests, while honoring their differences. However, we may not have the resources to support young people with learning differences that require special accommodations or therapy. Be sure to notify us of such learning differences so that we can have an honest conversation about whether or not Abrome will be able to fully support your child.

Why don't you use the words student or teacher?

The terms student and teacher are out of place at Abrome because we do not have an educational philosophy that perpetuates the notion of young people’s minds being empty vessels that need to be filled by omniscient adults. We reject adultism and authoritarian approaches to education, so we choose to leave behind the language that has those concepts embedded in their meaning. We view children and adolescents as people who deserve to have autonomy over their lives, and Facilitators exist to support young people and the community.

What do Facilitators do?

Facilitators witness.

Facilitators model.

Facilitators reflect.

Facilitators facilitate.

Facilitators hold the space.

Facilitators support students in clarifying their intentions, getting connected to the resources they need, reflecting on their decisions, engaging with the community, and sharing their learning. They work to keep the space physically and psychologically safe. They collaborate with students to develop and protect a powerfully positive culture. Facilitators model clear communication, collaboration, and authenticity.

What don’t Facilitators do?

As with everyone else, Facilitators only have so many hours in a day and so much energy to give. In order to facilitate well in support of our mission, values, and priorities, we must be selective in what we are willing to take on. Facilitators do not do a lot of things. Families should not expect Facilitators to do the following: teach academic courses, push academics on kids, provide personal tutoring, entertain, provide one-to-one support, hover over kids to prevent them from causing harm, monitor or surveil kids use of technology, enforce parental demands such as time on learning apps or screen limits, prevent kids from taking reasonable risks, or serve as a substitute to therapeutic support. While Facilitators may do some of the aforementioned as they deem appropriate to better support a particular young person, these are not expected Facilitator tasks.

What is your Student-to-Facilitator ratio?

Our Abromie to Facilitator ratio typically runs between 4:1 and 7:1.

What does a day look like? What does a week look like? What structure exists?

Established rhythms can help provide comfort and familiarity in an environment with a lot of freedom and divergent interests being explored. Our daily rhythm includes morning and afternoon gatherings, daily cleanup, invitations and offerings, and lots of unstructured time. Our weekly rhythm includes a Set-the-week meeting, a Check-in & Change-up meeting to co-create culture, Flying Squad days, and meetings specific to different developmental programs. We try to reserve was much time for young people’s passions and explorations, hence we don’t fill up their schedule with activities and meetings. See our daily rhythm page for an idea of what is available to a young person on a typical day.

Why does the day start at 10 a.m.? This makes it harder for me to drop off my child in the morning.

There is ample research that shows that young people in America are suffering from a severe shortage of sleep that hampers their cognitive, emotional, physical, and psychological development. It is generally accepted that teens need between 9-10.5 hours of sleep per night. We start at 10 a.m. because we cannot best help young people if we have structures in place that also harm them. Abromies can be dropped off as early as 9:30 a.m., but at this time we cannot accommodate earlier drop offs.

Is it ok to take vacations while Abrome is in session?

We highly encourage families to pursue every opportunity to engage in the most dynamic and meaningful learning and life experiences possible, and that includes travel. We anticipate some families taking time off for planned family vacations based on non-peak travel dates. We look forward to reconnecting with folks when they return from vacation.     

Is part-time enrollment an option?

Because we are actively building community together, part-time is rarely an option, but attendance is optional. If Abromies wish to take certain days off to participate in other opportunities that works for us, but tuition and fees won’t be adjusted time off. We prefer that all Abromies attend on days when we have our weekly Check-in and Change-up meetings. In very limited circumstances part-time enrollment may be the best option for the young person, their family, and the Abrome community. Please contact us if you believe that you may be the exception to the rule.

Can 4-year-olds attend Abrome?

In most cases we will not enroll 4-year-olds. We will consider enrolling 4-year-olds if they are the younger sibling of an enrolled Abromie. We will also consider special cases where the child and the family are ready to start at Abrome earlier than usual, and the family is fully committed to Self-Directed Education, and Abrome in particular, for their children’s education. All prospective Abromies must be able to go to the bathroom on their own, and must express a desire to be a part of the Abrome community, to include honoring our basic principles and agreements.

Is it ever too late to start Self-Directed Education?

No, all human beings deserve autonomy and are naturally wired to learn. In fact, most parents and guardians intuitively understand that their children learn best by following their own interests, but come school-age those same parents and guardians give into the school based fears that their kids should be racing toward some arbitrary and generic standard. Even if the person embarking on a Self-Directed Education journey has fully internalized a schoolish belief system, they will still benefit from being able to redefine their sense of ownership over their life and their place in the world, although it may be a longer road to overcome all of the conditioning that society has placed on them. The first step is to deschool, and that can begin at any age.

When is someone too old to join Abrome?

In the future we would like to see society fully embrace Self-Directed Education for all ages, and see spaces that exist to accommodate all people. For now, Abrome focuses on young people who are 5-18, more or less, based on individual circumstances. Given the amount of time it may take a schooled person to go through the deschooling process to embrace Self-Directed Education, and because we are building an intentional community that is focused on co-creating a culture where all members support one another, we cautiously consider the applications of prospective Abromies who are 16-years-old or older. Everyone deserves to have control over their education and lives, but if someone comes to us too late they may never get the opportunity to deschool in order to get to a place where they are ready to embrace SDE if they expect to graduate out at 18-years-old. For that reason, the best fit applicants ages 16 and above tend to be those who have been unschooled, or who have been particularly motivated to pursue their own interests in other settings. For those who have stumbled upon us too late, unschooling is always an option that should be taken seriously.

What are the graduation requirements for Abrome?

We are rolling out a new graduation process during the 2023-24 academic year. Members who will have been at Abrome for at least two full academic years, and will be 16-years-old or older at the date of graduation, will have the opportunity to go through the formal graduation process. Under very unique and rare circumstances we may wave the age requirement for an earlier graduation.

If you are a mixed-age community, then why do you need different age-based programs?

Free age mixing is a vital ingredient for a nourishing learning community that promotes individual growth, leadership, maturity, and tolerance. At the same time, young people at different stages of development have differing capabilities and needs. And while young people tend to have a strong desire for freedom, there is not always a corresponding regard for the responsibilities that freedom requires. Additionally, young people can become overwhelmed by free choice without supports, particularly if they are new to Self-Directed Education and have spent a lot of time in schools or in other spaces where there is limited freedom or few responsibilities. Finally, we need to be able to provide a protected space for fully self-actualized, self-directed learners to dive deeply into academics, activities, projects, or work that require extended periods of focus and concentration.

For these reasons, Abrome has three developmentally informed programs (roots, branches, and canopy) that reduce ambiguity around the expectations and obligations we have toward one another, and provide a pathway toward greater responsibilities that will allow each person to flourish on their own timeline within an interconnected and supportive community of autonomous learners.

These programs allow us to provide differentiated forms of support and structure to meet the needs of the individual young people and Abrome broader community. These programs are not defined by strict age guidelines, and Abromies may initiate the process to transition into the next program when they feel they are ready for greater responsibility. See our programs page for more details.

Abrome is a non-coercive environment. Are there any instances in which the staff will take on an authoritarian role?

There are some issues or situations that are non-negotiable. Everyone at Abrome is there of their own volition, and agrees to certain rules and guidelines. Violence is forbidden. If anyone in the community engages in violence we will immediately segregate them from others. Likewise, if we recognize a safety hazard we will mandate that young people steer clear of it. Additionally, a culture of diversity, tolerance, and respect is essential to maintaining an anti-oppressive, psychologically safe space. We will not tolerate any form of bullying, hazing, harassment, or ridicule. Also, alcohol, drugs, and pornography are not permitted in the Abrome learning environment. Bringing such items into the community is grounds for immediate dismissal. 

How do you discipline or punish young people if they hurt others?

At Abrome, the health of our community is critical because when one member suffers, the reverberations touch all members. Similarly, we recognize that structural oppression affects our relationships with each other even as we co-create an anti-oppressive space. For these reasons, we look to the models of restorative justice and transformative justice to guide us when conflicts between Abromies occur.

Restorative justice is a non-coercive model of repairing interpersonal relationships when harm has occurred. The model envisions a triangle with the person who caused harm, the person harmed, and their larger community at each of the triangle’s endpoints. Each of the three parties has needs associated with the instance of harm, and each also has obligations. A restorative model centers the needs of the person harmed. This model also recognizes that the person who caused harm will need the support of their community, who holds them accountable to repairing the harm and restoring their relationships. A common method of addressing these needs and obligations is through the restorative circle, a facilitated conversation where each party is heard and agreements are made.

Transformative justice moves beyond individual relationships and focuses on the larger, systemic ways in which groups of people are marginalized and oppressed. Transformative justice requires the Abrome community to open itself to larger communities and movements that subvert oppressive systems and provide reparative healing, both material and spiritual, to historically oppressed groups. In practice, this looks like conversations in our learning space, offerings, and field trips where we learn about the history of oppression; volunteer opportunities with transformative groups and organizations in our wider community; and cultivating relationships of accountability with BIPOC- and LGBTQIA+-led groups.

What happens when someone repeatedly harms or detracts from the community? What if a parent or guardian demands something that Abrome does not or cannot offer?

We seek to provide a physically and psychologically safe space for all, and if someone is causing harm and is unwilling to take accountability for it, and repair it, we will release them from the community to protect others.

We can be generous and clear, practice non-violent communication in transformative justice processes, hold someone in unconditional positive regard where we truly want their well-being and see their potential for growth…and we will still sometimes need to say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t anymore.” With kids, it may take many more failed attempts or a harmful act that’s a deal-breaker before we tell them they’ve crossed our boundaries too seriously to return. This makes sense; they’re developmentally in a different place than adults and are the people we’ve organized ourselves around supporting. We worry about who will help them if we can’t. We don’t want to be just another grown-up who rejected them. This can all be true, and it sucks, and sometimes we cannot be what someone needs, either at all or without sacrificing the rest of the community to this one individual…which isn’t what we’re here for.

Same with parents. We may try longer and harder with them, out of care for their kid or commitment to not punishing a kid for their adult’s behavior. Sometimes, though, we have to say “this stops now.” Same with volunteers. Same with staff. Sometimes our commitment and responsibility to the good of the whole community means we will have to tell someone we have no more help or chances to offer them and they need to move on. 

No matter how hard we try, we’re not right for everyone in the world, we cannot personally fix all the problems of society, and we need to be here for the people that are fully invested in this liberation project.

Does Abrome have sports teams?

No, Abrome does not sponsor sports. However, like any other learning experiences they would undertake, Abromies will identify ways in which they can (if they care to) incorporate sports into their education. For most sports, especially olympic sports, young people can join highly competitive club teams, homeschool teams, or start their own team to participate in a private school or religious sports leagues. If participating at the highest level of Texas High School Football is a primary concern, then Abrome would not be right for you.  

Are you a religious school?

We are not religiously affiliated. However, we embrace diversity, and we hope to have a plethora of religious faiths (as well as agnostic and atheist) represented in our community. 

Are you a micro school?

We acknowledge that micro schools have many advantages over larger conventional schools. Fortunately for us, like micro schools, we benefit from the limited size of our learning community. We also benefit from not being bound by the constraints and structures of schooling.

Are you an activist school trying to create social justice warriors?

We see Abrome as a liberation project, and while we focus on youth liberation, because our collective liberation is intertwined, we must stand for the liberation of all people. We do not force social justice conversations on young people, and we have no formal curriculum, but we address forms of oppression that arise within our space and within society. To pursue liberation we must first start with anti-oppression. We do not believe Families who wish to perpetuate forms of social domination will want their children exposed to interrogations of injustices they may be exposed to at Abrome, or the follow-on discussions of how to abolish those injustices. Those families would likely find the Abrome experience intolerable.

“Until we are all free, we are none of us free. ”
~ Emma Lazarus

How can I learn more about alternative education or defend my decision to emancipate my children from conventional schooling?

After you have read through our website, we encourage you to look at our additional resources page for further reading and viewing.

How can I support Abrome?

We are always looking to grow our community and you can help us in a variety of ways. Word of mouth testimonials are powerful, so please tell your friends and family about your experiences with Abrome and encourage them to come to an information session. Please share our social media posts on Instagram and twitter. If you would like to support us with a gift we have a public Amazon wish list that you can use — and we would be doubly pleased if you ordered from a local book store. Our Patreon link is also listed below and we will someday create content. Finally, we are always looking for volunteers so reach out to us if you would like to share your interests and passions with the young people at Abrome.


What are you looking for in candidates?

Our primary considerations are:

  • Does the candidate really want to be at Abrome?

  • Will the candidate substantially benefit from the Abrome learning community?

  • Will the learning community substantially benefit from the presence of the candidate?

  • Will the family support the candidate’s newfound freedom in an Emancipated Learning environment? Will they allow the candidate to lead a remarkable life? 

May I join Abrome part way through the academic year?

Yes, if accepted. Because we do not subject Abromies to a time-based, standardized curriculum, we accept applicants on a rolling basis throughout the year subject to capacity constraints.

How much does it cost to attend Abrome?

The 2023-2024 academic year tuition and fees schedule is listed under the admissions tab.

Are there scholarships available to help with tuition?

Abrome does not provide scholarships. Instead, our sliding scale tuition policy allows families to attend Abrome in line with their financial resources, making Abrome far more inclusive of middle class and lower socio-economic status families than we could be if we relied on scholarships. Abrome is funded primarily through tuition payments.

Many private schools have a single tuition rate that is about 60% of your tuition rate. Why don’t you do the same?

Those schools are subsidizing tuition for families who can pay more with the tuition of families with fewer financial resources. This practice is abhorrent from an institutional perspective, and we are uninterested in building a community where families with more resources are comfortable with such an arrangement.

How does the cost of Abrome compare to the cost of other private alternative and progressive schools?

The maximum tuition at Abrome is less expensive than several local prep schools, and it is priced at a steep discount to the market value of the experience. Although Abrome’s maximum tuition is more expensive than most alternative and progressive schools for high income families, we believe we have a unique offering that warrants the pricing.

Why is the top end of your tuition range higher than many other alternative and progressive schools?

  • We do not subject Abrome families to fundraising requests or requirements; the price listed is the real cost of attendance.

  • Our learning community is significantly strengthened by socio-economic and other forms of diversity. Pricing the full tuition closer to a fair market value gives us the ability to implement our sliding scale tuition policy that supports our diversity mandate. We believe that families of means who value diversity will pay full tuition.

  • We endeavor to attract and retain the most compassionate, dedicated, and talented staff in the world. We do not believe Abrome Facilitators should live from paycheck to paycheck, although currently all of our Facilitators are paid below market wages. In order to create a healthy ecosystem around young people we need families who recognize the value of dedicated and skilled Facilitators, and who support Facilitators through generous yet fair tuition payments.

  • Our approach to community requires a low Abromie to Facilitator ratio. Our Abromie to Facilitator ratio has ranged between 4:1 and 7:1 over the past six years. Our ratio is not artificially deflated with part-time employees or volunteers.

  • Abrome focuses on the health, happiness, and achievement of all young people; while avoiding the harm that comes from the practices and structures of schooling. We provide the conditions for Abromies to lead remarkable lives by the age of 18, and that warrants a significantly higher full tuition price than conventional or progressive schooling.

  • Our daily, pooled household surveillance LAMP testing is a costly but powerful layer of protection against the spread of COVID-19. The cost of rapid antigen testing for a household of four individuals for every day of the academic year would come out to about $4,000 a year. Our pooled household LAMP testing provides similar benefits at a cost to Abrome of about $2,000 per household per year, and it is both much more convenient and less time consuming (just swab the nose, drop it in a tube, and scan the tube) and much more sensitive than rapid antigen testing (meaning earlier detection of infection).

  • Our college admissions competency is a unique offering for adolescents who seek to attend college. Antonio previously charged candidates over $5,000 a year for academic consulting, and over $20,000 for college admissions consulting. This offering is now rolled into the cost of tuition. (We do not accept clients for college admissions consulting.)

What have your past clients had to say about you?

You are welcome to review our selected testimonials page. Additionally, we are happy to introduce you to current Abrome families should you choose to begin the admissions process.


How can my child get into Harvard or Stanford if she doesn't receive grades or a class rank?

Grades and class rank can significantly undermine applicants’ chances of getting into a top college or university, but they can do little to help them. At conventional schools, one is expected to outperform their peers in order to be in the running for an offer of admission. At Abrome, everyone is able to demonstrate excellence and intellectual vitality, without being limited by a focus on grades or class rank. Learn more by reading our college and career page.  

If there are no formal classes what do we use as a transcript?

Adolescents who wish to apply to competitive colleges and universities will construct transcripts based on their unique learning experiences.

Why do Abromies have a better shot at gaining admission into top colleges and universities than students from competitive public or private high schools?

Four primary reasons: 

  • No grades or class rank means that Abromies are not disadvantaged in the admissions process.

  • No classwork, homework, or testing means that Abromies can invest substantially more time into creating deep, meaningful, and enduring learning experiences.

  • Having the time to create deep, meaningful, and enduring learning experiences, in conjunction with the support of the Abrome learning community, means that Abromies will be able to clearly demonstrate excellence and intellectual vitality.

  • Abrome has a unique competency in the college admissions process.

Learn more by reading our college and career page.

What experience do you have with college admissions?

Antonio has had over 13 years of college admissions consulting experience. Almost 50% of his prior clients who applied to Harvard and/or Stanford had gained admission, and 75% gained admission into a top ten program (based on US News rankings). Additionally, Antonio organized all college fairs for West Point in the NYC area for a period of two years, served on the West Point Admissions Field Force, and volunteered with the Stanford Admissions Office.