Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx educator and innovator 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 which they had never imagined — while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx — Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown more than 40,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance. Stephen was named a Top 10 Finalist for the prestigious $1m Global Teacher Prize in 2015.
Stephen helped earn his school the first ever Citywide Award of Excellence from the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health and directly attributes these results to growing vegetables in school. To reclaim his own health and model good behavior for his students, he lost 100 pounds by eating what he and his students grow. In 2013, The United States Department of State and New York Foreign Press Corps toured representatives from 40 countries across Stephen’s worksites and classrooms. He was selected as a delegate at WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) and as a national Green Apple Education Ambassador for the US Green Building Council and Center for Green Schools. In 2014, Green Bronx Machine celebrated a Best of Green Schools Award — one of only ten recipients across the United States and The National Association of Secondary School Principals cited Stephen’s work and Green Bronx Machine as one of five national exemplars of service learning. That same year, Stephen’s fourth and fifth grade students accepted a personal invitation from White House by Chef William Yosses to visit the White House and exchange ideas about food literacy.
Affectionately known as “America’s Favorite Teacher,” Stephen has moved attendance from 40% to 93% daily, helped provide 2,200 youth jobs in the Bronx and captured the United States EPA Award for transforming mindsets and landscapes in NYC. A strong advocate for Project Based Learning, Stephen is an annual presenter for the Buck Institute and works with school districts and universities across the country. American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom identified and featured Stephen as one of the top fifty teachers in America. In 2016, he worked to develop a ground breaking, internationally certified curriculum which embeds concepts of sustainability, food, energy and environmental justice aligned to STEM content areas for elementary schools. Stephen and the Green Bronx Machine also brought to life the first ever independently financed National Health, Wellness and Learning Center. Soon thereafter, he partnered with LoyaltyOne in Canada to launch “The Good Food Machine” in 10 elementary schools, modeled after his programs in New York. Stephen presented at The White House twice during 2016.
Stephen has electrified and inspired audiences of all types with his “Si Se Puede” message of hope, urgency, resilience and Amer-I-Can innovation. His impassioned speeches have resulted in raucous standing ovations from audiences around the world — including the United Nations Social Innovation Summit, the Green Schools National Conference, Innovation Land, American Institute of Architects and the World Business Forum. He even delivered a keynote address at the Clinton Global Initiative on Earth Day. He has also worked with and consulted for various Fortune 100 / 500 companies. Stephen uses his platform of public speaking to support numerous philanthropic activities locally, nationally and abroad.Download Bio
The Power of a PlantA Teacher’s Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools
Rodale Press, Inc.
Globally acclaimed teacher Stephen Ritz shows you how his students in Bronx County thrive in school and in life by growing, cooking, eating, and sharing the bounty of their green classroom in one of the nation’s poorest communities.
Check out the official Stephen Ritz website
Take a look at the Green Bronx Machine website
Read “Teaching farming in the Bronx” on BBC.com
Check out Stephen’s inclusion in Daily Mail‘s list of the world’s best teachers
Read the Wall Street Journal‘s profile of Stephen
Read about Green Bronx Machine’s partnership with LoyaltyOne on the Good Food Machine
Read USA Today‘s coverage of the Global Teacher Prize
Check out Stephen’s Hometown Hero Prize
Take a look at pictures of Stephen and his students
“Thank you! The feedback we received from our people was fantastic! [Stephen] were super inspiring and we’re very much looking forward to our next event together.”
- Boston Scientific
“The feedback was overwhelming and everyone was truly motivated.”
- Host Hotels & Resorts Inc.
“I know, for one, that your presentation to our Clinton Foundation staff energized us to dream bigger. We thank you for taking the time to do so.”
- Clinton Climate Initiative
“He gave a fabulous speech that was very inspiring and our audience responded with a standing ovation, which doesn’t happen easily. The entire day was a home run.”
- Calvin College
“Your presentation was a big success! Lots of people sent us positive comments on the entire event, but your presentation drew particular attention.”
- International Institute for Learning, Inc
“Things went fabulous. We continue to hear from conference attendees saying how much they were inspired by Stephen.”
- West Virginia University