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2011 Massachusetts Milken Award Winner

Milken Family Foundation Mission Statement

The purpose of the Milken Family Foundation is to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research.

In Education, the Foundation is committed to:

  • Strengthening the profession by recognizing and rewarding outstanding educators, and by expanding their professional leadership and policy influence.
  • Attracting, developing, motivating and retaining the best talent to the teaching profession by means of a comprehensive, whole school reform.
  • Stimulating creativity and productivity among young people and adults through programs that encourage learning as a lifelong process.
  • Building vibrant communities by involving people of all ages in programs that contribute to the revitalization of their community and to the wellbeing of its residents.

In Medical Research, the Foundation is committed to:

  • Advancing and supporting basic and applied medical research - especially in the areas of prostate cancer and epilepsy - and recognizing and rewarding outstanding scientists in these areas.
  • Supporting basic health care programs to assure the well-being of community members of all ages.

A wealth of human potential is represented by individual people of all ages whose vision and purpose make them dynamic forces for change. The Foundation's mission is to help realize this potential by giving the support that enables people to create and carry out effective, lasting solutions to the challenges facing our communities.

Derek Vandegrift
Grade 10-11 Social Studies
Waltham High School
Waltham, Massachusetts

Derek Vandegrift has a sterling academic and research background that he applies to the classroom. 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 American History Teaching conference demonstrates a deep thinker who creatively reaches his students and motivates them to search for "hidden history." In particular, Derek's lessons ask 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. Derek's own classes are consistently at the top of school wide performance results on the summative final assessments.

Last Updated: November 30, 2012
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