The Power of a Plant tells the engaging story of Bronx educator Stephen Ritz and his journey to embody his three Cs- “collisions, connections and co-learnings” through creating the Green Bronx Machine at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS55 in the South Bronx. Students learn a a variety of curriculum-tied skills while also learning about health, nutrition and the environment.
As he evolves from “Mista” in the 1980s to “Mr. Farmer Steve” in the 21st century, Ritz was inspired by his students’ brightness, creativity and hunger for positive reinforcement; working with special education students in the city’s poorest congressional district meant that positive reinforcement was the last thing his kid were getting. By encouraging each student to “make your thinking visible” helped students to gain the confidence to take on ever-more complex problems. Soon students who had been basically written off as hopeless were taking on beautifying projects in the South Bronx and making the evening news.