JCCA’s Two Together Tutoring Program has been providing low-income youth with free, individualized tutoring and mentoring for 41 years. Ashley Petersen, an employee of Deutsche Bank and in her second year of tutoring with the program, has been working with her 14-year-old tutee, Bianca Maitre, since September 2013. She is also a member of Two Together’s fundraising committee. Both were delighted to talk about the program, their relationship and a recent group outing that brought them closer together.

Bianca, now in the 9th grade, has participated in Two Together’s program since the 6th grade, going to tutoring sessions two days a week after school. “Two Together has helped me a lot,” she says. My grades have really improved, especially in math. I feel like I’m finally ‘getting it’ now.” Last June, Bianca’s grade point average went up from 73% to 82%, with a significant improvement in Humanities and Science. In the2013 fall semester, she started high school and attained a 89% average on her first report card!

“In the few short months we have been working together, I have seen Bianca become more confident in her reading and vocabulary,” explains Ashley. “We have already begun the process of preparing her for her regents at the end of the year.”

Recently, 20 tutor/tutee pairs from the program enjoyed an outing at Dave and Busters, a video arcade, sponsored by the Mentoring Partnership of NY in celebration of National Mentoring month. The pairs played video and board games together, had their faces painted, got temporary tattoos, shared a meal, and talked r in a new setting.

“Tutoring normally takes place after the student has a long day at school and perhaps a long commute, so the goal is to make education the focus during that short period of time together,” Ashley noted. “The event at Dave and Busters allowed me to get to know more about Bianca, — her hobbies and her special interests. She really opened up when she was talking about school and how much she enjoyed her history class. We learned more about each other and became even more comfortable with each other .”

Bianca elaborates, “We both love history, and now that I’m learning about the Civil War in school, we were able to talk about that and the battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln and slavery. It was great and brought us closer together.”

Bianca says she’s “always loved science” and her dream is to become a forensic scientist. She has her work cut out for her, but Ashley is determined to help her get there. “I look forward to developing my relationship with Bianca. Since she is a freshman, we have three and half more years of work ahead of us, including the college application process!”