Ken Higgins was born in Englewood, NJ in 1950 and moved with his family to Boca in 1957. Here he forged his connection with Boca Raton, and after attending J.C. Mitchell School, began his affiliation with Boca High. Since there was no middle school in Boca back then, he went straight from J.C. Mitchell to attend 7th grade at the brand new Boca Raton High School.
Ken was among the first senior classes to graduate from BRHS (class of ’68), and while he was there he earned 2 Varsity Letters (Tennis and Football) and was active in Student Council, Key Club and several other student organizations.
Upon High School graduation he pursued and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education (with a History Minor) at Florida State University. This, however, was during the time of the Vietnam War and the Selective Service Draft had different plans for where he would go next. He was drafted into Military Service after completing his degree, and served in the U.S. Army Military Police in Mannheim, Germany.
Upon his return from military service, Ken, after serving as a substitute teacher within Palm Beach County, eventually secured a full-time teaching position at Boca Raton Community High School in the mid 1970’s. His old school…not 10 years removed from it. There, he would serve not only as a well-loved History teacher but also as Boy’s Tennis Coach and Girl’s Volleyball Coach.
He created his own curriculum – ’20’s and ‘30’s American History. He was assigned a Portable Classroom near where the current Girl’s Softball Field stands, and ready to influence the lives of his students with a class that looked into the unique period of American History that often times gets lost between wars.
Ken was one of several of a “new breed” of teachers that were teaching at BRCHS back then. They wore their hair a little longer and blue jeans were pretty much standard. He, along with these fellow educators, was not that far removed from the days they roamed their own High School campuses as students. But this was HIS high school.
It was his unique approach to teaching that endeared his students to him. The exact dates were not as important when learning in his class, as was the mood of the country during that time. Sure, there was the Great Depression, Al Capone and Prohibition, The “Trial of the Century – The Scopes Monkey Trial (teaching Evolution vs. Creationism in schools)”, Leopold and Loeb, Sacco and Vanzetti – but what brought it all together was that History was not something to necessarily be memorized, but rather something to be experienced.
It was not unusual for Ken to suddenly decide that it was too nice a day to spend inside a portable classroom to get a handle on the lesson plan for the day. Sometimes classes were held outside… sitting on the grass and going over the material. History also meant being aware of what was happening in the world that past week…so “Current Event Quizzes” were a Friday regular. His easy going attitude and ability to relate to his students made his class one of the favorite History Electives back then.
Ken left teaching after 1979, and went back to FSU to earn his MBA. From there he went on to a successful career as Publisher of magazines for the Sign and Digital Graphics Trade.
His passion was travel – learning about how the rest of the world lived. He pursued that with every opportunity that came his way, and trips back to Europe and to South America were among the things he enjoyed best.
After a brief illness, Ken died of cancer on July 3, 2011 in Melbourne Beach, FL. He left behind not only a wife and 2 children, but many students whose life he influenced. Many students recalled, on the on-line obituary page of the Florida Today a teacher and coach who enjoyed what he did, did it well and made an indelible impact on their lives.
Kenneth W. Higgins, Jr. would be proud to know that a deserving student from Boca High is receiving a George Snow Scholarship – enabling them to further their academic goals and vault them to great things beyond.