Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx educator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Self-proclaimed CEO – Chief Eternal Optimist – of Bronx County, Stephen has moved 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. Affectionately known as America’s Favorite Teacher and The Pied Piper of Peas, Stephen is the Founder of Green Bronx Machine and is now focusing his energy and attention upon building the National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55, a national prototype STEM facility complete with an indoor vertical farm producing 100 bags of groceries per week and adult workforce development center. His students recently hosted White House Chef Bill Yosses and Clinton Foundation Global Ambassador Reed Alexander cooking vegetables they grew in school.
Just named a Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen’s additional accolades include meeting Pope Francis, a 2014 Greenius Award, 2014 Green Difference Award, 2013 Latin Trends Award, ABC Above and Beyond Award, Chevrolet / General Motors National Green Educator Award, USS Intrepid Hometown Hero Award, NYC Chancellor’s Award and various others. Dressed in a home-made bow tie and always chanting Si Se Puede!, Stephen is the oldest sixth grader you’ll ever meet. His work has been featured by the US State Department, in major media nationally and internationally and he’s the first to tell you, he’s just getting started!