Our Leadership Staff

Katherine Bassett, Chief Executive Officer

Throughout her career in education, Bassett has advocated for students to receive the highest-quality of education regardless of their zip code or family circumstances. She was named New Jersey’s 2000 State Teacher of the Year, and served as President and CEO of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.

Bassett spent 26 years in the classroom as a middle school librarian and at ETS, led the development of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certificates for Library Media and Literacy. She led the development of performance-based assessments in four states and worked with six states to develop a common continuum of practice. She also served as Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Center for Educator Effectiveness at Pearson, working to support research into educator practice and self-efficacy and led the development of the Teacher Leader Model Standards and co-led development of the Model Code of Ethics for Educators.

Ashley Bencan, Chief Operating Officer

Ashley Bencan has been a coach, a teacher, a student-athlete, a policymaker and, most importantly, a good listener. Working in the education sector is challenging and sometimes isolating work, however through many different opportunities and great colleagues she has found it rewarding.

Ashley attended Rollins College where she was a two-sport athlete and completed her honors psychology thesis on ‘Quality Out of School Time Programming through the Central Florida YMCA.’ When weighing the options of a master’s in public policy at American University or Teach For America, Ashley chose TFA. After five years of teaching middle school ELA and Social Studies in North Philadelphia and earning her master’s from UPENN GSE, Ashley joined the New Jersey Department of Education. Over the course of her time there, she impacted the following areas of policy and practice: Recruitment, Preparation and Recognition; Data Reporting and Visualization, and as the Director of Strategic Operations she led the internal efforts to systematically improve the agency.

Our Program Staff

Jessica Kelly, Program Director

Jessica Kelly serves as Program Director for the New Jersey Tutoring Corps. It was her passion for reading and writing that led Jessica to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from Long Island University and become a teacher. She believes in the power of the life lessons that are mined through the study of literature. When students are given the time to read, write, speak, and connect with a topic, they develop empathy and a positive sense of self. This is why she believes it’s so important for all students to be able to read fluently and to see their life experiences mirrored in what they read.

Jessica is an experienced educator who cares deeply about her students. She has thirteen years of teaching experience, four years of curriculum coordinator experience, and nine years of being a middle school advisor. Additionally, she worked on a reading research project for The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin.

Bertin Lefkovic, Finance Director

Bertin Lefkovic serves as Finance Director for the New Jersey Tutoring Corps.  His focus is on grants and procurement management as well as fundraising.

Prior to joining the NJTC, he had been working with individuals with disabilities and their families, helping them to manage their participation in the Personal Preference Program, a Medicaid-waiver home and community-based services program that enabled them to receive paid personal care assistance services from family members, friends, and others.  Before that, most of his professional career has been in the organized Jewish community with State of Israel Bonds, the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and Young Israel of East Brunswick.  

Bertin earned a B.A. in Political Science at New York University and an Ed.M. from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. 

Chelsea Collins, Master Trainer/Coach Southern Region

Chelsea Collins is proud to work with the NJ Tutoring Corp as a Master Trainer, where she designs and leads instructional training and support for more than 200 instructional coaches and tutors across the state. Collins leads work nationally for Learning Forward, where she supports the national Equity-Centered Pipeline Initiative, and Catapult Learning, where she provides professional learning and coaching to educators across the country. For the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, Collins develops and delivers training and coaching to educators across New Jersey.

Collins was selected among 125,000 teachers as the 2016 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year; as a teacher, Collins was hand-selected by the Assistant Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education to lead first-ever statewide policy initiatives. Her work received national attention and was presented to state education agencies across the country. 

Our Field Staff

The New Jersey Tutoring Corps Inc employs as many as two hundred field staff per instructional cycle, depending on numbers of scholars and sites at any given time. These field staff represent the best and brightest of New Jersey’s educational family. In most cases, field staff work face-to-face with scholars; in unique circumstances, they may work virtually. In virtual instances, there will always be at least one senior staff member in-person onsite.

All field staff are required to hold their New Jersey Criminal Background Fingerprint certificate and to supply a copy of that certificate to the program. In addition, they must provide I9 documentation of proof to work in the United States and participate in a background check.

Field staff must also comply with the requirement of individual sites in regard to COVID protocols.

Our field staff consist of three tiers of staff as follows:

Site Coordinators: Site Coordinators are responsible for overseeing all logistics and operational management on behalf of the New Jersey Tutoring Corps Inc at one to two of our school/district or partner-based sites throughout New Jersey.  Site Coordinators are required to hold a Bachelor’s degree and to have some management experience in order to serve.

Instructional Coaches: Instructional Coaches observe and conduct feedback meetings with our tutoring staff at one to two school/district or partner-based sites throughout the state. They partner with Site Coordinators to ensure that sites are operational and meeting the needs of scholars. Instructional Coaches must hold, or have held, a teaching certificate as well as have teacher leadership experience.

Tutors: Tutors provide direct instruction to Scholars (students, typically in grades Kindergarten through 6th grade) at one of our school/district or partner-based sites statewide. Tutors meet with scholars in a ratio of one Tutor to no more than five scholars, although we try to hold that ratio to no more than one Tutor to three scholars. Tutors will meet with multiple scholar groups within the course of a day. Tutors may be pre-service educators, in-service educators, retired educators, substitute teachers, parents, or other interested individuals with documented experience in providing instruction to children.