School: La Serna High School
District: Whittier Union School District
County: Los Angeles County
Region: Southern California
Grade: High School
Award Year: 2012
“How do you change the lives of kids who have been beaten down by adversity? The answer is quite simple. You love them, believe in them, and respect them relentlessly. You reach down deep into your heart and give them everything you’ve got to give. You help them see purpose in their lives and then you just stand back and watch them as they amaze you with a depth of character that no one had ever taken the time to recognize. You teach their minds and you coach their souls.” – Ken LaVigne
After teaching and coaching football for 38 years, Ken retired in 2020. During the last thirteen years of his career, he took on a new challenge, creating a program at La Serna High School in Whittier, California to address the needs of his school’s most at-risk students. The program is built upon core values that lead students to success in the present and in the years to come.
To facilitate this program, he recruited the finest students at the school to serve as academic mentors. These mentors and their assigned students develop incredibly strong, powerful relationships that lead to tremendous success. Many of these mentors have decided to become teachers themselves because of this experience. The great majority of his students went on to have exemplary attendance, behavior, and grades, leading them to graduate from high school with goals and a plan for their future.
The full story of this program is described in a book he wrote, had published, and was released in January of 2019. It is titled Coach the Soul. Information about the book is available on its website: coachthesoul.net