Paytes Selected as National Teacher of the Month for January 2023

Leslie Paytes, a middle school math teacher at Community House Middle School of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (NC), has been named the Open Up Resources Teacher of the Month for January 2023. Paytes 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.

Paytes’ 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. 

Ann Leach a colleague at Community House Middle School, nominated Paytes for her hard work and dedication in supporting her students and colleagues with Open Up Resources 6–8 Math. Leach shared, “Leslie has been teaching middle school math for 39 years. We adopted the Open Up curriculum last year and she took it upon herself to read everything she could about implementing this curriculum to our students… Leslie not only does all she can for her students to make math learning at a high level fun, but she does the same for the teachers she works beside each day.”

We asked Paytes about what she enjoys about the curriculum. She explained, “I love the way everything is laid out in one place and is paced well – for all students. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities for the students to use manipulatives to discover math concepts. I like the fact that the practice problems spiral through previous lessons allowing for continuous exposure to content…  I also appreciate all of the advice about language routines that are embedded in the teachers' editions.” 

Paytes also told us about the success she’s seen in the children in her classroom: “I teach 6th Grade and was out for dinner with my friend who teaches 7th Grade. We were talking about the units we were currently teaching; we are finishing up ratios. I told her one of my mantras: ‘When in doubt make a table.’ My friend said, ‘Oh I know – my students have brought up your name and are so good at ratio tables. Keep doing what you're doing.’  This to me is a success. When students carry over a learned method to solve a problem and can apply their learnings with fidelity a year later – that's a win.”

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