Notable Neighbors: Cooper Abramson & Erica Sapp

Cooper Abramson joined the NMS community just this past September, but he has already learned countless lessons he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

Cooper is a seventh grader at NMS’s middle school, ATLAS (Academic Theatre Lab on Audubon Street). ATLAS offers a small, safe, and supportive learning environment for students who wish to be intellectually challenged and creatively inspired.

“I love that I can learn about what I am interested in,” said Cooper.

ATLAS has offered in-person learning onsite at NMS throughout the year, along with virtual learning.

“We have been studying voting rights,” noted Cooper, while discussing the fall semester. The ATLAS students’ virtual performance of their original play about voting rights, The Right(s) Fight, is a “favorite memory.”

For the performance, Cooper not only created a short film in which he portrayed President Barack Obama, but he was also able to demonstrate his formidable skills as a dancer trained in pointe, ballet, tap, pom, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, and lyrical styles.

“ATLAS is a school where I can express my creativity,” he said.

Cooper has many other favorite memories of his first semester at ATLAS: “Picture Day was fun because we were able to do funny photos. The walks through New Haven with STEM Director Billy O’Shea were fun, but tiring. The Get Out the Vote Puppet Parade. The random Zoom meetings when we broke out laughing.”

Cooper is equally excited about the spring: “I have been learning about opening my own sewing business. We are also starting our spring production of The Wiz, which I am very excited for.”

“Cooper shines at ATLAS!” said ATLAS Founding Artistic Director Maria Giarrizzo-Bartz.

“He shows commitment in all of his work, and is eager to grow and stretch himself in new ways.”Caroline Golschneider, ATLAS Founding Education Director, added, “Cooper is a confident, creative student who brings enthusiasm to everything he does!”Though Cooper has learned a great deal in the classroom in just a few short months, he feels he has learned about so much more than academics at ATLAS.

“I have learned what true friendships are,” said Cooper. “I have learned to be who I am and to be proud of who I am. I have learned to be brave to stand up for what is right.”

Cooper has embraced the work of our ATLAS students: “to educate ourselves and others about our world.”



Erica Sapp believes in the power of storytelling.

Erica first came to NMS in 2001, when she joined the staff of our Audubon Arts summer program. She has been a Drama Director at the program every summer since, where she helps children express themselves and connect with their community through creative movement, music, and storytelling.

Erica is also a teacher in our Preschool program. She first taught in our Toddler Room for ten years, and now teaches in our mixed-age Preschool.

Erica brings her passion for drama and theater to the Preschool, creating exciting and engaging play spaces in the classroom. She especially enjoys reading stories to and drumming with the children, as well as sharing messy, sensory play experiences with them.

Young children are natural explorers, learners, and creative thinkers, and the arts are the perfect vehicle for them to experience and understand the world around them. Our Preschoolers are fortunate to be guided in their explorations by dedicated, experienced teachers like Erica.