Katie Nulty, MSS Alumna

1559737_10100593869672225_1063332702_n[1]Katie went on to graduate from Georgetown University in 2008, majoring in finance and government.  Today she is working in advertising and new media at Tongal, an exciting tech startup in Santa Monica.  She tries not to stray more than eight blocks away from the beach at any given time, whether she’s in Santa Monica or visiting her hometown of Summerland.

Outside of work, she is an avid reader and occasional freelance writer.  She credits MSS with her love of reading, writing, and (of course) animals.  MSS holds a very special place in hers and her family’s hearts.

Thanks for everything you do, Alice!

Keep in touch.


KATIE NULTY, 27 yrs.

Student Testimonial: Emma Semonsen


*Emma attends Santa Barbara Middle School and chose to work at My Special School during “Career Studies Week”. This is a letter I received from Emma after spending a full week with the kids and I.

Dear Alice,

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you so so much for letting me be a part of your Preschool and these kids’ lives! I loved them from the beginning and I am so looking forward to babysitting them in the future.

Your Preschool is amazing! I love the fact that you have animals for the kids to interact with and you teach them skills that they can use in their everyday lives no matter what age they are. You engage their brains and really make them think and solve problems on their own. When you were explaining the “behind the scenes/brains” it really got me thinking too. The way that you step back and let them figure things out on their own is amazing to watch.

Your inside knowledge on how their brains work and what ways each child will excel most is astonishing. When they each told me what they were working on it blew me away. It was amazing that with a little of your help they could realize what to improve on and how to do it. It changed my perspective on how their minds work and what they are thinking. I was amazed when Giulia told me my name and my age! Not only do they learn lifelong lessons but they learn at an early age that they don’t have to always rely on other people to get what they want.

You are truly amazing! I love you, your house (especially the smell), your animal companions, and being with all of you. No parent could ask for a better place to send their little loves to begin their learning experience. Your Preschool is a home away from home to them now and it will be for the rest of their lives (it definitely is for me).

I feel that I really learned how to run a Preschool, but I learned so much more! I love you, Sydney,Yenta, Leilani, Ty, the Dolphins and especially the kids! Again thank you so much for this wonderful experience!

Love always,

Emma Frances Semonsen~ 14 yrs.
November 2011

Jack Baker, MSS Alumnus

Jack_Baker[1]Jack is now 18 yrs. old, graduating in June 2014. Mostly all A’s, a couple B’s here and there.

  • He is Senior Captain of the SB High Dons boys basketball team.
  • He is the Team’s  leading scorer and will be First Team All League again this year, he was last year as a Junior also, rare.
  • He has been accepted at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.
  • He is waiting to hear back from University of Oregon and Washington State University.
  • He is strongly leaning towards University of Arizona, they have a strong Sports Management program which he thinks he would like to pursue.
  • He is 6′ 5″ tall, ready and anxious to go off to college.

All his teachers and administrators at Santa Barbara High love him and tell us what a great kid he is…it all started at MSS.


Graham T. Fox, MSS Alumnus

969411_10101721631174155_1375519960_n[1]Graham Graduated from the University of Southern California in 2007, where he studied Public Policy and Real Estate with a minor in Architecture.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Graham is a Senior Consultant at Marketo, the #1 Marketing Automation Provider.  Outside of work you can find him with shrimp on the barbie and the sand between his toes.

GRAHAM T. FOX, 29yrs.
January 2014

Teacher Testimonial: Indra Strong

“My Special School”, led by the skilled expert in the field — Miss Alice, has given the children, their parents and their teachers alike an opportunity to grow, learn and … BE: be kind, be caring, be polite, be resourceful, be patient, be loving, be responsible and be … yourself, and just be.

As a yoga teacher I found it comforting and encouraging to teach my classes in the environment of acceptance and kindness, yet filled with focus and responsibility.  On numerous occasions I noticed that the children at this pre-school were more focused and able to follow the instructions better that the ones in many other preschools, and even elementary schools  where I taught —  I do attribute this phenomenon to the skills and experience of Miss Alice, and the Montessori inspired environment for the kids.

I’ve had the honor to teach yoga to “My Special School” children for more than 6 years. And without sounding too stereotyped I want to admit that they (my little yogis and yoginis together with Miss Alice) have taught me a lot about myself and about yoga, too! I am thankful.

Keep spreading the love and peace! Namaste.

With gratitude,

Indra Strong, RYT
January 2014

Student Testimonial: Katie Nulty

photoDear Alice,

You are a good teacher and friend.  I am going to miss you a whole bunch!  I love you.

Katie Nulty – 5 yrs.
August 1991

Student Testimonial: Cassidy Davis

1425612_10152004775122356_425013694_n[1]For the world’s greatest Teacher,

Thank you Alice Tropper for such a great start in my life! I love you!

Cassidy Davis – 5yrs.

Happy 25th Anniversary MSS!

May 1, 2013 marks My Special School’s 25th Anniversary! Sending much Love and Gratitude to all the Beautiful Families and Teachers who have been and still are a part of our ever-growing MSS Family ♥



“Dear Alice,

Many Congratulations on your many years as My Special School~and a very special school it is. We love you!”

The Babichs especially Eli!


“Many Hugs and Congratulations Alice!!!”
Vince, Susan, Emma and Ashe


“Congratulations!!!! MSS ROCKS!!!”
Susie, Ruben, and Anna Lopez


“Hi Alice,

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary!  MSS was the absolutely perfect place for Danny and we really appreciate everything you did for him!”

Anne & Alex Cole


“So grateful we were a part of your 25 years!”

Katrina, Jimmy, and Dalton Shupe


“Fantastic Alice! Congratulations!”

Kristin, Arie, and Ezra


“Happy Anniversary, Alice!

Thank you for the very special opportunity that you gave our children.”

with much gratitude,

Rebecca, Matthew, and Morgan


“Alice, it must be terribly humbling to look back at all the little minds you have molded along the way. What a responsibility! But what beautiful results. Not to mention the parents you mentored, changed, influenced and listened to. What a burden you have carried, although happily, all these years. They should name a saint after you!”

Sharon, Chuck, and Seana Currie


“Congrats Alice. You are so special and beautiful!!!”  xoxo

Nancy, Tom, and Colby Noakes


“Happy 25th Anniversary to you and Our Special School we love you!”

Kyra and Illiana


“Dear Alice,

Congratulations!  You do such a wonderful job with those children.  I wish you or at least someone like you would have been around when my girls were young.

My best to you Sweetheart. Love-and then some! ”

Fran aka “Granny Franny” (from Garden Court)


Student Testimonial: Fia Torrey

Fia TorreyI liked My Special School because we got to go on a lot of field trips and I liked mystery Fridays.

My favorite part was the morning because you got to draw and play with Legos while you were waiting for everyone else.

Miss Alice is a nice, nice teacher and I liked when she read us books.

I learned about peace, love and how to tie my shoes.


Parent Testimonial: Susan Torrey

7/2011-Fia Torrey-about to become an Alumni:)PARENTING: A tearful goodbye to the Preschool years


by Susan Torrey

Montecito Messenger

July 27, 2011


There’s a date on my calendar that’s marked with a big red circle. It’s looming with both dread and excitement. It’s the last day of pre-school for my daughter. The end of the sweet little world she’s been a part of and the beginning of something bigger and new. She started the spring of 2008, barely two years old. She’s now five which means she’s spent more of her life there than not. Unlike a lot of parents we didn’t tour schools. We followed the lead of some close friends and found ourselves at a spot which was perfect for us, My Special School. It’s a small Montessori school, owned and run by the amazing Alice Tropper, who has made her life calling teaching preschool aged children.

She is kind and patient beyond what I think is humanly possible, but day in and day out, she manages the 6 children who follow her every word. They sit patiently and take turns. They respect each other and play nicely. It’s their home away from home which is filled with love, respect and kindness. It’s an idyllic bubble where everyone gets along where there are, no exceptions, and where inclusion is the rule. There are no unkind words spoken because with Miss Alice it’s all about the love. Because of what’s happening at school, Fia has been exposed to more than what we could have imagined. Every month Miss Alice arranges a variety of classes, Creative Movement, Yoga, Qi Gong, Aikido, Music, Drama, and weekly visits to “the grandparents” at Garden Court, a senior residence, for stories and lunch. “Mystery Fridays” consist of a special outing determined by what is happening in town or what the kids want to do. This week, bike riding. Next week? Who knows, but maybe the beach? The butterflies? A park? Every week is full of learning and adventure.

We’ve shared some of Fia’s most important milestones with Miss Alice, because she was the one who has guided us through. Potty training, reading, tying laces on her shoes, riding a two wheel bike and playing her first game of checkers. She’s celebrated her 3rd birthday, her 4th and her 5th at school and with Miss Alice. Almost seems like a lifetime, and in some ways it is. It’s been my daughter’s lifetime.

As she transitions from this sweet little world, where she’s one of 6, to where, she’ll be one of too many, I am sad and excited for her. I know it has to happen, but I want to keep her safe and in a world where there are no mean words exchanged and where love and respect is the norm. In 6 short weeks we walk her across the street to her new kindergarten class. We’ll drop her off and set her free to explore her new world. I know it’s a world that will look and feel a lot different. She’ll learn tough life lessons where not everyone wants to be friends. Where not everyone is as well behaved and where mean words might be exchanged. But it will also be a world where the work which Miss Alice prepared her for will shine. She’ll be kind and make friends. She’ll find her voice in the crowd and hopefully be the example.

Just as I was told, the years have gone too quickly. I remember dropping Fia off the first day at My Special School. I left, got in the car and had tears streaming down my face. And now, as that day on my calendar, which is circled in red approaches, I get tears just thinking of picking her up for the very last time.

*Susan Torrey’s column appears regularly in the Montecito Messenger.