WALTHAM (CBS) – A Waltham High School teacher received some special recognition on Tuesday, along with a big cash prize.

The Milken Family Foundation chose history teacher Derek Vandegrift for the Foundation National Educator Award.

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Along with the award, Vandegrift receives a $25,000 check.

The award was a surprise to Vandegrift, who arrived at the gym for what he thought was a school assembly.

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Officials with the Milken Foundation say Vandegrift is an exceptional teacher who inspires students and helps them develop a love for learning.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

Vandegrift told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope, that’s exactly what he hopes to do every day.

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“I hope only that I inspire them and that they go on to do what they want to do and be the best at what they want to do. And if I’ve done that than I feel pretty good.”