Open Up Resources 6-8 Math Teacher of the Month: Jennifer Pendergraft

Jennifer Pendergraft, a 7th-grade math teacher at Monett Middle School of Monett R-1 School District (MO), has been named the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math Teacher of the Month for June. Pendergraft is being recognized for her outstanding work in her classroom and ongoing support of teachers across the country as a member of the Open Up Resources National Professional Learning Community.

Pendergraft’s work with Open Up Resources 6–8 Math makes her one of the most innovative teachers in the country. The Open Up Resources 6–8 Math curriculum inspires a new way of teaching math by transforming classrooms into “hives of activity” focusing on discussion, questioning, debate, and the deeper conceptual learning of mathematics that follows. 

Dr. Jonathan Apostol, a principal at Monett Middle School, nominated Pendergraft for her perseverance and excellent teaching and implementation of the curriculum. Dr. Apostol shared, “Our Math department was searching for a math curriculum that really got students thinking about their thinking! In working with our instructional coach, our team discovered Open Up Resources [6–8 Math]. Jennifer and her math partner jumped in head first to teach the curriculum. Jennifer experienced some roadblocks, but persevered with her students through the year. Jennifer had provided some great insight into the communities that were implementing the curriculum and has improved her craft... A big shout out to Jennifer for sticking with the curriculum as you saw a lot of student success from it!”

Pendergraft shared that she appreciates the cyclical and coherent design of the curriculum. She explained, “When you begin a unit, the lessons are broad. As you move further into the unit, students are experiencing the content at more complex levels allowing them to learn more deeply.” 

And she offered some advice: “I would say trust the process. You may not see exactly why the lessons progress the way they do at first, but the lesson will get to the heart of the content in a way that allows students to experience in-depth learning.  Everything within the curriculum is connected.  If a student does not understand completely during the first experience with something they will see it again in another way.”

“In many 7th grade classrooms, teaching integers is near the beginning of the year. With [Open Up Resources 6–8 Math] Integers are taught in Unit 5. As I was moving through Unit 5 students seemed to have a much easier time grasping how to operate with integers. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly the students caught on and were successful with integer operations.”

Open Up Resources is a non-profit on a mission to increase equity in education by making excellent, top-rated curricula freely available to districts. You can learn more at Learn more about our National Professional Learning Communities here.