South Bronx teacher and administrator
Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx teacher and administrator who believes that students shouldn't have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Moving generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined, while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx, Stephen's extended student and community family have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance. His Bronx classroom features the first indoor edible wall in NYC DOE, which routinely generates enough produce to feed healthy meals to 450 students and trains the youngest nationally certified workforce in America. His students, traveling from Boston to Rockefeller Center to the Hamptons, earn living wages en route to graduation. Stephen has consistently moved attendance from 40 percent to 93 percent daily, helped fund and create 2,200 youth jobs, captured the US EPA Award for transforming mindsets and landscapes in NYC, recently won the ABC Above and Beyond Award and the 2012 Chevrolet National Green Educator Award, and helped earn his school the first ever Citywide Award of Excellence from the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health -- and Stephen attributes these results directly to growing vegetables in school. The National Association of Secondary School Principals cited Stephen's work and the Green Bronx Machine as one of five national exemplars of service learning. Stephen was just announced as a national Green Apple Education Ambassador for the U.S. Green Building Council. He is currently working on embedding the concepts of sustainability and environmental justice into K-12 programming and beyond.