Educator Profile    Educators

Derek Vandegrift (MA '11)

Director of History and Social Studies

Waltham Public Schools
Waltham, MA

Subject(s) taught: Social Studies
Grade(s): 10, 11

At the time of the Award, Derek Vandegrift was:

Waltham High School
Waltham, MA

Subject(s) taught: Social Studies
Grade(s): 10, 11

Biographical Information

Derek Vandegrift has a sterling academic and research background that he applies to the classroom and to his current administrative role. Talking up to students rather than talking down to them, Vandegrift couples curiosity and flexibility in finding the most effective ways to instruct without sacrificing his core approach. His involvement in the Teaching American History grant program demonstrates a deep thinker who creatively reaches students and staff and motivates them to search for "hidden history." In particular, Vandegrift asks students to predict outcomes if different decisions had been made; this reinforces his philosophy of teaching history as a continuum and makes the subject more interesting. Students also gain a richer understanding of cause-and-effect by looking at history from the vantage point of the subjects rather than from one steeped in modern values and hindsight. His mature approach puts abstract values such as freedom in the context of little-known historical events that require independent research and thoughtfulness to analyze. A trained mentor teacher and frequent conference presenter, Vandegrift is a leader in data analysis and curriculum development and has assembled regional workshops. He played a pivotal role in the school's history curriculum development and performance data analysis. Vandegrift's own classes were consistently at the top of schoolwide performance results on the summative final assessments. Now, as Director of History and Social Studies for Waltham Public Schools, Vandegrift works with a staff of nearly thirty teachers to develop curriculum and to improve classroom instruction across the district.

Derek Vandegrift In The News

Five Questions For ... Milken Educator Derek Vandegrift, On Teaching Civics and Student Engagement
EdMedia Commons  |  Aug 03, 2012  |  Washington, DC

Mass. Gov. Patrick and Education Officials Honor Massachusetts’ Top Educators
Massachusetts Newswire  |  Jun 18, 2012  |  Boston, MA

An 'Oscar' for Waltham teacher  |  Nov 10, 2011  |  Boston, MA

National Educator Honor Goes to Class of 2000’s Derek Vandegrift
The Boston College Chronicle  |  Nov 03, 2011  |  Boston, MA

Waltham High teacher surprised with $25K Milken educator award
Waltham News Tribune  |  Oct 21, 2011  |  Waltham, MA

Waltham History Teacher Wins Educator Award, $25,000  |  Oct 19, 2011  |  Waltham, MA

Waltham High history teacher wins prestigious Milken educator award
Waltham News Tribune  |  Oct 18, 2011  |  Waltham, MA

Waltham teacher receives national award, $25,000 check  |  Oct 18, 2011  |  Boston, MA

Waltham Teacher Wins National Educator Award
CBS Boston  |  CBS  |  Jan 01, 2011  |  Boston, MA