Amy Rosenfeld Kass
Early Childhood Special Education '97
I really like the connections I have built through the Alumni Tutoring Network. I always look forward to the support I get from other tutors, what we’ll learn about, and who’s going to be speaking about different topics.
Amy Rosenfeld Kass’ unique learning abilities and storytelling background coupled with a Bank Street master’s degree gave the Early Childhood Special Education graduate an advantage when writing Daniel and Max Play Together, the book adaptation of the episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an Emmy Award-winning animated preschool television show that models age-appropriate social-emotional strategies and practical life skills.
When asked about her role in this project, Amy said, “I studied the Daniel Tiger video of this particular episode and I chose what wording should go in the book, what wording wasn’t important enough to go into the book, and then I worked out what text should go on what pages.”
Similar to the line from Bank Street’s credo that says “Lively intellectual curiosities turn the world into an exciting laboratory and keep one ever a learner,” Amy believes that combining her creativity with her Bank Street Graduate School education has provided her with a formula for success.
“A lot of my creativity has come from progressive learning and my training at Bank Street College. I chose Bank Street because I always knew I wanted to help children learn. Growing up, I had a learning disability, and I knew that I wanted to support children somehow with their love of learning and in whatever way that I could. I don’t like the term ‘disability.’ I like to say, take the ‘dis’ out of disability and you see each other for your abilities,” Amy said.
After graduating from Bank Street, Amy worked as a headteacher for children with autism and then became a SEIT, a special education itinerant teacher. In this role, she organized, color-coded, and developed book lists for an Upper Westside nursery school. After a yearlong training, she was asked to be a librarian for the 2’s Together program. Not long after she started her new role, the publishing house Simon & Schuster chose her to work on the Daniel Tiger book about inclusivity and honoring people’s differences.
“I’m part of a group called Adaptations. It’s a wonderful group for people with varying altered abilities. They reached out to Simon & Schuster and recommended me for the Daniel Tiger book project.” Amy said. “ I learned later that the publisher wanted this particular book to go along with the PBS episode, which was also called Daniel and Max Play Together, so the children can read the book, follow along, and watch the show. The story is about Daniel Tiger in school, where he’s introduced to Max. He learns that Max is autistic, but he also learns that even if you’re different, you can still be friends and play together.”
Amy is also the creator of her own children’s books through several online publishers. One, in particular, on Storyjumper.com called Feelings, Masks, School and Superheroes: Returning to School During COVID-19 was written to help young children manage the pandemic.
Amy said, “I like to write and create. I really liked the fact that at Bank Street all of my assignments and final projects were written. It’s the way I learn best. I have published several stories online, and adapting the Daniel Tiger book taught me about handling deadlines and time management. I was tutoring and working on the manuscript at the same time. I would literally lock myself in the bedroom with a good lunch and a big jug of coffee and go. I went through the editing process.”
Amy is a member of the Bank Street Alumni Tutoring Network and enjoys helping students develop new ways to realize their own unique gifts. The support from other Bank Street alumni has also helped her nurture a tutoring business of her own.
She said, “I’ve developed my own reading curriculum for a 5-year-old student I tutor. I’ve helped this student overcome shyness, be more verbal, and develop a love of books through songs and movement. I mostly use colored index cards and books, and we play rhyming word games. This has helped him with literacy, reading, and writing. I work with his older brother, too.”
As Amy’s tutoring business grows, she is staying connected to her Bank Street roots through the tutoring program.
“I really like the connections I have built through the Alumni Tutoring Network. I always look forward to the support I get from other tutors, what we’ll learn about, and who’s going to be speaking about different topics,” Amy said.
Watch Amy’s Read Aloud video of Daniel and Max Play Together, released in celebration of Autism Acceptance Month in April.