Sky’s the limit

Published 7:00 am Monday, May 1, 2017

Upper Limit Learning Center offers one-on-one tutoring services


Written by Emily Sparacino

Photographs by Dawn Harrison


Equipping students for their futures is a priority for Alex and Mary Grace Pereira of Hoover.

It’s also the focus of their tutoring business, Upper Limit Learning Center, which opened in February.

“We just have a passion for training up the next generation,” Alex said. “Investing in teens, getting them involved … that’s just something I’ve always had a passion for.”

Before moving to Hoover from Memphis, Tennessee, to open Upper Limit, Alex worked in commercial audio-visual install, and Mary Grace, 28, was a junior high and high school math teacher.

As a teacher, Mary Grace tutored students and said it opened her eyes to the effectiveness of one-on-one attention beyond the classroom setting.

“We wanted to fill a need that many, many schools are having,” Alex said. “We’re not specific to math, but that’s a focus. We wanted to target the students that are slipping through the cracks, kids that need one-on-one attention. We wanted to find a community that has wholesome values and is growing and has students that have a need.”

The couple said they found that in Hoover.

At Upper Limit, they offer tutoring for students in kindergarten through 12th grade on any subject, and they conduct test preparation sessions.

Staff members are trained and certified to tutor.

“Tutors have to be degreed in what they’re teaching,” Mary Grace said.

Alex described Upper Limit tutors as “the backbone” of the business.

“Our vision is to go find the passionate, credentialed person that just wants to invest in a young person’s life,” he said, “To get the student where they never thought they’d be. We’re on a journey. We’re going to hike the mountain together.”

Tutoring sessions usually last an hour. Most sessions are held at the center, which is located at 3601-A Lorna Ridge Drive in Hoover, but tutors can go to offsite locations as needed, Alex said.

“We are planning online services in the future,” he said. “In this day and age, you’ve got to be mobile.”

Upper Limit tutors work with the materials students have in school. They can also provide ACT prep and intervention programs in math and reading.

The programs are designed to build on whatever level students are on currently.

“We believe you have to meet them where they are,” Mary Grace said. “We want to show them progress and success right now to enable them to do better in school, pay attention in class and care about what they’re learning.”

Upper Limit also caters to students with special needs, such as dyslexia, learning disabilities, autism and other developmental delays.

Upper Limit operates in a 1,500-square-foot building and can hold as many as 22 students at one time.

Mary Grace has a degree in math secondary education and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Alex has a master’s degree in business administration, from Grand Canyon University.

Upper Limit Learning Center is a Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce member.

“We do believe that America was built on small business,” Alex said. “We do want to support the economy and the community in that way.”

Upper Limit has open hours every day of the week except Sunday.

Summer hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

During the summer, two camps will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: STEM and Reading camp.

Both camps are for grades 1-6, and parents can sign up anytime. More information will be available at

Enrichment and tutoring hours will be held from 3-6 p.m. after camps are finished each day. “This is a great time for students to get their summer reading accomplished or work on their summer math packets that are due at the beginning of the school year,” Mary Grace wrote in an email. “We will also use this time to conduct ACT/SAT and ESL tutoring sessions.”

Other summer offerings include “Stem Camp: From the Roots Up!” and “Reading Camp: The Book Club.”

For Stem Camp, two camp blocks will be held each day, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m. Each day will be different. Students will accomplish several activities related to science, technology, engineering or math; and most days, students will have something they get to take home from what they learned.

Reading Camp will consist of four camp blocks each day, from 10-11 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, 1-2 p.m. and 2-3 p.m.

Each day, students will read and discuss thrilling books, or even write a book. They will brush up on their reading skills, such as reading comprehension and skimming, and students will get to develop their literary abilities.

Regular hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 3-8 p.m.; Friday, 3-6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For rates or other information, call Upper Limit Learning Center at (205) 783-5103 or visit the business’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.