Ashley Vandegrift ’92

Middle School Girls Math. Varsity Tennis Coach.

Ashley graduated from Springside School in 1992 and started teaching at SCH Academy in 2010.

What attracted you to teach at SCH?

When I heard that there was a teaching opening at SCH (Springside to me), I was struck by an immediate feeling of warmth. I lived out of state at the time and quickly understood it was an opportunity not to be passed up. Not only would I have a reason to move back to Philadelphia, but I could teach in a school which held so many memories. Aside from the smiles when seeing Mr. Stein, Mrs. Lower, and Ms. Fish during my visit, I also realized just how important it is to connect girls with math. I’ve always loved the dynamic in a coed classroom, but encouraging girls to love math added a new layer of significance to my teaching.

What part of SCH’s mission or values is most meaningful to you as a teacher?

The importance of nurturing students’ knowledge of themselves and the world is critical in Middle School. As I was growing up, it was those moments when I discovered something new about who I was as an individual and how that fit into the broader world that inspired my confidence. Day-to-day life as an adolescent can often feel like a mixed- up pile of puzzle pieces and if, as a teacher, I can help a student fit a few of those pieces together, I have happily accomplished what I strive to do each day.

What do you enjoy most about teaching and why?

Teaching, for me, is an exciting mix of surprise, challenge, and gratification. I go into each class with clear academic goals, but because the classroom is really an undiscovered world of knowledge and curiosity, my students invariably drive our direction. Middle schoolers are beginning to seek and declare their independence and I love being a positive support through what is often a drama-filled journey.

Do you have a favorite teaching story or moment?

It may sound cliche, but any moment that brings a true smile of pride and accomplishment to one of my students is a favorite moment. I am thrilled for the student, happy that we found a way to connect, and triumphant that I did my job well. It could be about a math skill that finally clicked, an improved quiz score, a mathematical idea that inspired wonder, or the fifth day in a row that a reluctant student completed their homework. A shared smile says a thousand words, so I treasure any moment that I share a smile with one of my students.

Learn more about the Middle School at SCH Academy. Get to know our academics, student wellness, and athletic opportunitiesHear from our Head of Middle School Meadow Pepino.

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