Clarissa Vasquez didn’t start out to work at an alternative school. Her MFT degree led her to private practice and other therapy-based jobs. But she still hadn’t found her call-ing. That is, not until she got involved with the Fusion Acad-emy, one of several private schools to open over that past decade in the South Bay.

"Our philosophy is simple," explained Clarissa,. "We be-lieve in one-to-one education, not one-to-screen."

The Fusion Academy, which is located right in Hermosa on PCH, is designed for kids who have non-traditional learning styles and/or unique schedules. For example, several of the students are professional ath-letes or actors who need to take classes at specific times of the day. Most traditional pub-lic schools have difficulty ac-commodating them.

The most common attendee is what Clarissa calls a "different learner." For some kids, she

says, the hustle and bustle and bright colors of a traditional classroom can be overwhelm-ing. "We pay attention to every aspect of the learning environment.: wall colors, lighting, no overly stimulating charts and art on the walls."

The school, which opened in 2011, also emphasizes life skills but offers non-traditional coursework such as surfing, a full recording studio for musi-cians, and a special area called "Homework Café."