Home From Dubai and Looking Forward

2015-03-Stephen_Ritz_Top_10_Finalist

Dear Friends:

Just back from Dubai and the Global Teacher Prize Ceremony; first and foremost my congratulations to Ms. Nancie Atwell. To be recognized and celebrated in the company of such dedicated, talented and committed individuals is more than I could have ever asked or hoped for. I am honored and grateful to be a part of such a meaningful global moment. Behind every success story, there is a teacher. Simply put, teachers change lives! The outpouring of love and support through this process has been amazing. In the past few months, I’ve heard from so many of you and so many students from the 80’s and 90’s as well as those from across the country and around the globe. In Dubai, while on stage – I heard your cheers! Proof the Bronx CAN – Change Attitudes Now! Today we celebrate people power!

I am forever grateful to my parents, principals, supervisors, fellow teachers, classroom aides, mentors and students who have spent time with me teaching me that relationships and honesty are at the core of all we do – these are the people who remain a part of my life and my student’s lives to this very day.  For those who have always believed in me and supported me, I am forever grateful and each and every day is an opportunity to pay that faith forward – by investing in my students and colleagues. I appreciate the congratulatory notes and kind words from all – old and new – and thank each of you for helping us to grow including those long removed and apart from from any of the work we are doing today. In particular, I want to thank my wife Lizette, and my daughter, Michaela, who have given selflessly through the years and who are at the heart and core of our extended Bronx, national and international families!

To my students past, present and future and their parents, thank you for trusting me, for believing in me, for listening to me! I LOVE YOU ALL and thank you for coming to school each and every day, for braving snowstorms and rainstorms, for riding buses and trains, for coming early and staying late, for walking me home at night and bringing me breakfast, for doing your homework and saying please and thank you; and of course, for eating your vegetables. Our collective successes are reflective of the belief that together, we can grow something greater. This moment teaches us many things and points to the future with one singular message:  THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Now home, it is time to get back to work! My cry is a simple one:  more schools and less jails, more books and less guns, more learning and less vice, more leisure and less greed, more justice and less revenge! More opportunities to embrace our better nature! Together, we can do this! One student at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time, one teacher at a time! Today, we plant our stake in the ground, determined to build the National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55. Join us in our work! We invite you to help be the change!

Moving forward, please take a moment to support our Barnraiser Campaign and help us Grow Something Greater for this and future generations. Let’s do this!

Si se puede!

Stephen

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