Leslie Paynter is the founding Managing Director of Alamance Community School.  She has over eleven years experience as a school administrator and previous experience in starting and opening charter schools.  Leslie has a BA in Elementary Education (K-6), an M.Ed. in Special Education (K-12) from UNC-Charlotte and an Education Administration and Supervision add-on license from North Carolina Central University. In her thirty years as an educator, she has been a regular classroom teacher, a special education teacher, an EC facilitator, a founding board member of a charter school, and a school administrator.


Fifteen years ago, Leslie was introduced to Responsive Classroom and read the book, Teaching Children to Care by Ruth Sidney Charney.  As a special educator and a behaviorist, this was life changing for her, not only as an educator, but also as a parent.  Therefore, her philosophy of behavior management and education significantly shifted to a more constructivist approach. She began to focus on student questions and interests, teaching students to care for themselves, each other, and their environment, building on their prior knowledge, and having students work collaboratively.  In the world of high stakes testing, as an administrator and an educator, Leslie believes that our students' social-emotional health is just as important as their academic health. She knows that student achievement increases when her students feel safe and valued.  


In the spring of 2021, ten finalists were selected for the Charter One North Carolina Charter Schools Principal of the Year. Out of the 201 North Carolina Charter School leaders across the state,  Managing Director/Principal Leslie Hall Paynter was one of the ten finalists. Leslie considered this a great honor and was humbled to be selected.  


This year, Leslie and her husband celebrated their 30th anniversary! They have two sons that are ECU Pirates. Her eldest son, Sam, graduated from East Carolina University in 2018 and is a local realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Durham.  Her youngest son, John, graduated from ECU in May with a degree in Finance and is getting his MBA. Leslie is also a former voice major and loves all kinds of music from bluegrass to opera. She is thankful that both of her boys sing well, since singing off key is one of her “pet peeves”. 


Leslie is thrilled to be the Managing Director of Alamance Community School and knows that we are truly creating and building something wonderful that will have a long-lasting positive impact for our students and our community.  One of her favorite quotes is by Sir Winston Churchill.  He said, “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." 

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Clay Smith, Board Chair

A lifelong resident of Alamance County, Clay brings a decade of experience in teacher education and educator preparation to the Alamance Community School Board. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in History Education from East Carolina University where he currently serves as the Special Populations Coordinator. In this role, Clay directs residency-licensed teachers in their pursuit of state certification. He also earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. There, Clay's research explored the experience of military veterans as postsecondary students, namely their beliefs about belonging and the role of the academic degree program.


Outside of work, Clay enjoys spending time with family. His wife, Jordan, is also an Alamance County native. Their two boys, Owen and Cameron, love being outside to enjoy the spaces of nature Alamance County has to offer. You can often find them paddling down the Haw, playing at one of the local parks, or exploring downtown Graham or Saxapahaw. At home, Clay and family are often cooking, listening to music, or reading.


Clay is honored to serve on the Alamance Community School Board, especially as ACS positions itself to lead and thrive within his home county. Clay is specifically excited to see learning come alive for ACS students through Project-Based Learning as they own, lead, and construct within the learning process.

Wendy De Campos, Secretary

Originally from Greenville, NC, Wendy De Campos relocated back to NC from South Florida, where she and her family had lived for 8 years. She also lived in Washington D.C. for a number of years and Sydney Australia before deciding that the Tar Heel State still held a special place in her heart.

Wendy holds her B.S. in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and Masters in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, Australia. Wendy currently works for ADP, as an HR Business Partner helping her clients optimize HR and technology solutions to help them achieve their strategic business goals. Prior to HR, Wendy worked in Public Relations for a number of years with the Federal government, non-profits, and pharmaceutical giants.

On weekends, Wendy can be found at Home Depot picking up more native plants or paint colors. Wendy also loves spending time with her husband, a high school STEM teacher, and their two boys, exploring nature trails, cafes, museums, or just their backyard. Wendy looks forward to serving on the Board and serving her community.

Brenda Derrick, Treasurer

Brenda has been teaching in Durham, North Carolina for 38 years.  She began her career with Durham Public Schools, where she taught elementary Physical Education for 30 years. For the past eight years, she has been teaching PE at Voyager Academy, a K - 12 charter school located in Durham.

Brenda grew up in Pulaski, Virginia and attended Virginia Intermont College graduating with a B.S. in Physical Education, Health, and Recreation (K-12).  Brenda is married and has two children. Playing golf, working out at CrossFit, going to the beach, and hanging out with friends are her hobbies. Brenda looks forward to serving on the ACS board. Her experience working in traditional public schools and in a public charter school

will be helpful to the board and the community in building a successful school.

Michelle Smith-Hylton

Michelle Smith-Hylton has a background in Aerospace Engineering and Cognitive Neuroscience. She holds a B.A. in Graphic Communications from Brevard College and a M.S. in Industrial Technology/Industrial Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She also has certifications in Fundamentals in Cognitive Neuroscience and Project Management. She is currently working to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. Currently she travels between Washington, D.C. and North Carolina working as an Aerospace Engineer and Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher.

Growing up in a family of educators from administrators to teachers, Michelle understands the importance of education. For years she was taught to continually pursue the highest level of education for herself and to also encourage youth to do the same. She lives by her mother’s motto which has always been “Reach One, Teach One”. With her passion to help youth, Michelle has served on several boards that are geared towards helping young people. She is a former member of Girl’s Inc. and Oak Ridge Military Academy Board of Development and Admissions. She has also served on the Science, Technology, and Innovation Commission Board in which she was appointed by former Governor Pat McCrory. She also serves on the Duke University Hospital Neuroscience PFAC.

She is honored to have the opportunity to serve on the Alamance Community School Board of Directors. Because of her passion to ensure every child has a quality education regardless of his/her economic background, she is dedicated to helping ACS continually reach the highest level of success as a North Carolina Charter School.



Charter Success Partners

With over 14 years experience, CSP provides financial, facility financing, and student information services to charter schools. Their services provide security and peace of mind for charter school boards and administration through sound fiscal and student information management, allowing the school to focus on student instruction.

Schoolhouse Development, LLC
Schoolhouse Development has been working with charter schools since 2004. They partner with charter schools through the entire process. Through proper planning, strategy, and execution, they work to alleviate concerns related to finance, building design, permitting, and construction. They give charter founders and educators the freedom and confidence to focus on childhood development and education, rather than the uncertainty that can arise and distract in the process of completing a large real estate development.

Hubrich Contracting, Inc.

Hubrich Contracting, Inc., located in Durham, NC, has pioneered a different type of relationship with their charter school clients. They create mutually beneficial projects through careful planning, design, and hands on oversight, which helps their clients avoid the typical pitfalls sometimes associated with contractin and development.

Steve Hubrich and his team built all three schools that comprise the K-12 Voyager Academy in Durham, NC (the middle school in 2007, the high school in 2011, and the elementary school in 2012).  This will be the fourth charter school construction project our Managing Director, Leslie Paynter, will work with the Hubrich Contracting team. Leslie said, "Knowing that we will have Steve’s vast knowledge and experience in charter school construction, in addition to the local aspect, brings me great relief and security."  You can learn more about Hubrich Contracting at https://www.hubrichcontracting.com/ourwork.html.