Literature Curriculum Writer and Editor, GradeSaver (2013-present)
Theater and Writing Teacher, Chelsea Community Schools, Chelsea, MA (2012-2013)
Theater Enrichment Teacher, Gardner Pilot Academy, Allston, MA (2011-present)
Founding Program Director, Theater and Performance Club, Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, Pokuase, Ghana (2008–2009)
Docudrama Instructor, St. Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY (2008)
“DramaMama” Mentor, Dramagirls, Chicago, IL (2007–2008)
Youth Purim Play Director, Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago, IL (2005–2008)
Playmaking & Performance Instructor, After School Matters at
Michele Clark High School, Chicago, IL (2004–2006)
Creative Writing Teacher, Barrel of Monkeys, Chicago, IL (2004–2007)
Head Counselor, Summer Drama Workshop, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2004)
Mentor, University Theater Mentorship Program, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2001-02 and 2003-04)
Drama Teacher, University Theater School Partnership Program, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2000-2003)
Merit Scholarship, Harvard Graduate School of Education (2009)
Neighborhood Schools Program Award, University of Chicago (2004)
Jeff Metcalf Fellowship for Public Service (2003)
Adventures Through the Galaxy, Chelsea Community Schools, Chelsea, MA (2013)
New Lives/Vidas Nuevas, Chelsea Community Schools, Chelsea, MA (2012)
Kojo and His Wicked Stepmother and The Result of Jealousy, Pokuase, Ghana (2009)
Falling Through Time and Childhood Stories, Saint Ann’s School, New York, NY (2008)
We Don’t Like Being Shushed!, Dramagirls, Chicago, IL (2008)
The Book of Esther, Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago, IL (2005-2008)
Playmaking & Performance Showcases, Michele Clark High School, Chicago, IL (2004-2006)
Gemma … arrived in Ghana on day one to call on all the schools where we have relationships through our scholarship program. She recruited two co-teachers so that what she would organize over the next six months would be carried forward and be sustained (and it has!). When she started teaching her curriculum I must admit to skepticism. Until I witnessed her teaching and the class interaction. Theater done the way Gemma does it is multi-variable, where each child participating develops leadership, management and peer accountability. Original storytelling helps each child face their own hurts and hurdles, often very serious -- the plays are written by the kids to represent the lives they have to deal with in a setting with such great poverty.
Gemma connects with her students in rich and meaningful way. She never sees a room full of students, but rather a room full of humans ready to explore and experience the world together.
Gemma, I like you because you taught me more lessons to write.
student, age 8
I learned a lot from this program. It made me a stronger person and a writer. I will miss this program.
student, age 16
I worked with Ms. Cooper-Novack for three years in an [After School Matters] Playmaking and Performance class at my high school. I participated in the program for three years because Gemma was enthusiastic with guiding me in my style of writing (historical fiction) when others were less receptive. … Gemma is a kind and attentive teacher. She does her utmost to pull you out of the biggest creative slump with a single idea. … Any student of hers will no doubt be successful in the future.
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