The Power of a Plant (Hardcover)
A Teacher's Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools
Rodale Books, 9781623368647, 304pp.
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.
In The Power of a Plant, globally acclaimed teacher and self-proclaimed CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) Stephen Ritz shows you how, in one of the nation's poorest communities, his students thrive in school and in life by growing, cooking, eating, and sharing the bounty of their green classroom. 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? These are the questions 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 when 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, "Fifty thousand pounds of vegetables later, my favorite crop is organically grown citizens who are growing and eating themselves into good health and amazing opportunities." The Power of a Plant tells the story of a green teacher from the Bronx who let one idea germinate into a movement and changed his students' lives by learning alongside them. Since greening his curriculum, Ritz has seen near-perfect attendance and graduation rates, dramatically increased passing rates on state exams, and behavioral incidents slashed in half. In the poorest congressional district in America, he has helped create 2,200 local jobs and built farms and gardens while changing landscapes and mindsets for residents, students, and colleagues. Along the way, Ritz lost more than 100 pounds by eating the food that he and his students grow in school. The Power of a Plant is his story of hope, resilience, regeneration, and optimism.
About the Author
Stephen Ritz, founder of Green Bronx Machine, has devoted his teaching career to improving health and academic results for children in the South Bronx. Now he is partnering with organizations from Canada to Dubai and Colombia to Cairo to bring the power of a plant to children and communities everywhere. A Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize and one of NPR's 50 Greatest Teachers, he has presented at the White House on two separate occasions and had his classroom modeled by the U.S. Botanic Garden. His work has been featured by major media and documentaries, including Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, and his TEDx talk has been viewed over one million times. Dubbed the Pied Piper of Peas, Ritz and his family reside in the Bronx and continue to farm with children all year round. His demonstration classroom, the National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center, is located at Community School 55 in the South Bronx.