Stephen Ritz’s highly anticipated new book, The Power of a Plant:
We just adore Stephen Ritz! Stephen is the gifted and exuberant STEM / STEAM Executive Director at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55 in New York City’s South Bronx.
He is also the founder of the Green Bronx Machine, and the author of the upcoming The Power of a Plant, from Rodale, the lauded health publisher, 2017.
The educational, affordable local food systems, and workforce development innovator’s The Power of a Plant, A Teacher’s Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools is dropping May 2, 2017. Available on sale now, all proceeds of the book go to support the Green Bronx Machine.
Green Bronx Machine
Stephen Ritz founded the student-led Green Bronx Machine and its desire is to provide education, affordable local food systems, and 21st century workforce development.
The South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the nation with some of the highest rates of asthma, obesity, and malnutrition. Through education and local engagement, the Green Bronx Machine builds healthy, equitable, and resilient communities.
Healthy children are at the heart of healthy schools, and healthy schools are at the heart of resilient communities. ~ The Mission of the Green Bronx Machine
National Health, Wellness and Learning Center
A 2015 Global Teacher Prize Top Ten Finalist, Stephen Ritz donated his entire $25,000 prize to the creation of the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center, a 100+ year old reclaimed school library in at CS 55.
The innovative STEM/STEAM curriculum is integrated with plant-based teaching lessons which align with core school curriculum.
Stephen is using horticulture in his classroom to not only teach biology and science. He is using it to help cultivate nurturing and conscious adults. He calls the Center “a place of wonder, inquiry and engagement for students, teachers, parents and the whole community.”
What if we taught students that they have as much potential as a seed? That in the right conditions, they can grow into something great? That’s the question that Stephen Ritz – who became a teacher more than 30 years ago – sought to answer in 2004 in a South Bronx high school plagued by rampant crime and a dismal graduation rate. After what can only be defined as a cosmic experience where a flower broke up a fight in his classroom, he saw a way to start tackling his school’s problems: plants.
He flipped his curriculum to integrate gardening as an entry point for all learning, and inadvertently created an international phenomenon. As Ritz likes to say, “50,000 pounds of vegetables later, my favorite crop is organically grown citizens who are growing and eating themselves into good health and amazing opportunities.”
From the mountains of Colombia to the streets of Cairo, and from cities across Canada to the desert sands of Dubai, Stephen Ritz is forming global partnerships to bring the power of a plant to the world. Stephen teaches Pre-K through 5th grade at CS 55 in the Bronx, and is the founder of the Green Bronx Machine. He was a Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, and is one of NPR’s 50 Greatest Teachers.
His work has been featured multiple times at the White House and in 2106 a replica of his classroom was installed in the US Botanic Gardens. His work has been featured and celebrated in major media and documentaries around the world including a personal invite to meet Pope Francis.
Stephen earned his school the first-ever Citywide Award of Excellence from NYC’s Strategic Alliance for Health and he and his students have been featured on PBS: American Graduate, Disney, Jennifer Lopez Special, TNT, The Chew and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. Ritz has spoken at the United Nations Social Innovation Summit, Clinton Global Initiative, WOBI, Fortune 100’s – all to standing ovations – and his TEDx talk – ranked in the top ten of educational talks – has had over one million views.
Dubbed the Pied Piper of Peas, Stephen and his family reside in the Bronx and continue to farm with children all year round. ~ Back cover, The Power of a Plant by Stephen Ritz
2017 Virtual Summit Keynote
We are honored to have Stephen Ritz as an esteemed Keynote at our 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit!
I honestly have to say that his video presentation was one of the most heart-tugging and inspiring ones I have ever heard! It actually brought me to tears with its poignant, uplifting story. Aptly named, you can see his “Power of a Plant” Video Trailer here. (The Virtual Summit 2017 registration is open through 2017.)
Filmed on location at “his” National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55 in South Bronx, and across different areas of the South Bronx, the viewer is left with a sense of joy and pride for the students and community in this very underserved area of the U.S.
Stephen’s message of “Si, se puede!” – Yes, you can! – is full of hope, urgency and resiliency and what he calls “Amer-I-can” innovation.
Learn all about Stephen at his Biography.
More about the Book
In The Power of a Plant, Stephen highlights how greening a curriculum allows students to grow their capacity to better their lives and their communities. Since beginning the program, he has seen near perfect attendance and graduation rates, dramatically increased passing rates on state exams, and behavioral incidents slashed in half. In this poorest Congressional District in America he has partnered towards 2,200 local jobs, built farms and gardens while changing landscapes and mindsets for residents, students and colleagues.
Along the way, Stephen also lost more than 100 pounds by eating the food that he and his students grew in school! The book features Stephen Ritz’s cornerstone of learning, “Make Epic Happen,” which is broken down into three main takeaways: collisions, connections, and co-learning. The Power of a Plant is a story of hope, resilience, regeneration, and optimism. Since 2014, Ritz has inspired more than 5,000 indoor classroom learning gardens based off his model.
Praise for The Power of a Plant
Stephen Ritz shares his incredible journey to healthy eating and healthy kids in The Power of a Plant. Here are just a couple of quotes from people who also love the book:
“Education should not be information overload. It should unleash human potential – which is infinite in its capacity to create, know and solve every conceivable problem. Stephen Ritz has opened a door to this unbounded field of possibilities which he elegantly describes in ‘The Power Of A Plant’.” ~ Deepak Chopra – Author 43 books, NY Times Bestseller, TIME Magazine – Top 100 Heroes and Icons of the Century, Huffington Post – 17th Most Influential Thinker in the World, #1 in Medicine
“This is how change happens, one person at a time, one community at a time. Green Bronx Machine is changing the way children eat, learn and live!” ~ Reverend Al Sharpton; MSNBC / Politics Nation
I’m sure Stephen never started out his teaching career thinking one day he would become such an inspirational and motivational speaker and leader, but he has more than earned this distinctive recognition – with power, grace, dignity, and unbounded energy!