Helping Children Exceed the Mark 3

Local Nonprofit Provides Tutoring on a Sliding Scale for Low-Income Students

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle, packages, boxes, ribbons and bows, and, of course, mall madness and traffic jams. The holiday season can be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes we get caught up in it and forget the reason for the season, but two inspiring pediatricians are giving back to their community, not just during the holidays but year-round as stewards of God’s grace.

As Dr. Tiffini Billingsly and Dr. Lynn Gardner were seeing patients, they began to notice a recurring pattern, approximately one-third of school-age children coming in were having difficulty in their academic performance. Research indicates a correlation between health and education; the more educated you are, the healthier you are. It didn’t take long for the two to realize there was a desperate need for children from lower-income families to have opportunities for private tutoring. With no prior nonprofit experience, they began collaborating with friends and successfully launched Exceeding The Mark in July 2012.

When asked how the name Exceeding The Mark was chosen, Gardner says, “We were brainstorming one night, basically tossing around names and ideas and one of the phrases was Exceeding The Mark.” Billingsly said, “Stop right there. That’s it—Exceeding The Mark!”

Immediately, they both knew the name was a perfect fit; it would resonate and show kids are capable of more than performing at just the bare minimum. ETM has become a successful nonprofit, serving students by encouraging and supporting them to recognize and cultivate their God-given talents.

“We believe that children are born for greatness and have amazing dreams, and we want to help them realize those dreams,” Gardner says.

The Tutoring For Success program is based on a sliding scale, ranging from $10 to $25 per hour. The small financial contribution reflects the parent’s commitment to the education of the child. ETM volunteer tutors are career-oriented college students with a dedicated commitment to service and a passion for education.

Helena Wiley’s son, Jaden, has been receiving tutoring for math and language arts with ETM for almost three years. His academic performance has “Exceeded The Mark” of average expectations.

“Jaden not only has improved his grades, he looks up to his tutor as a mentor and role model. They have a real bond together,” Helena says. “We are very thankful for Exceeding The Mark.”

ETM tutors children throughout metro Atlanta. 

Charitable contributions can be made through their website,

Tiffini Billingsly, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is the owner of Premier Pediatric Associates in Smyrna. Lynn Gardner, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is the pediatric residency program director at Morehouse School of Medicine.