Press Release


Internationally Known Educator and Innovator Stephen Ritz to Keynote SHAPE America Opening General Session 

RESTON, VA, October 2, 2017 — Stephen Ritz, a South Bronx educator and innovator who believes that students shouldn't have to leave their community to live, learn and earn, will keynote the Opening General Session at the 133rd National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Nashville, TN. More than 5,000 health and physical education teachers, researchers and other physical activity professionals are expected to attend the convention, which is the largest event of its kind in the country. The convention, which will take place March 20-24, is held in partnership with SHAPE America Southern District and the Tennessee Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD).

A Top 10 Finalist for the prestigious $1 Million Global Teacher Prize in 2015, Ritz enjoys electrifying and inspiring his audiences as to what is possible with "hope, urgency resilience and Amer-i-Can innovation."  He has moved his school attendance from 40% to 93% daily, helped provide 2,200 youth jobs in the Bronx and captured the United EPA Award for transforming mindsets and landscapes in NYC. Dedicated to harvesting hope and cultivating minds, he believes that "together, via collaboration, coalition and get-to-yes solutions, we can all prosper!"

In his book, The Power of a Plant (Rodale), the #1 Amazon Best Selling Author discusses his efforts to merge K-12 education with urban agriculture, environmental sustainability, healthy eating and 21st century workforce development. What started as an after-school program at Walton High School in the Bronx borough of New York City more than a decade ago is now a fully integrated core curriculum. 

Through the integration of green technologies aligned to STEM content areas, coupled with innovative solutions for inspiring healthy habits, Ritz teaches audiences how he improved test scores, attendance rates, graduation rates, and how he lost more than 100 pounds himself. Having presented around the world, he says that one of his speaking engagement highlights was keynoting the Clinton Global Initiative on Earth Day. His TED Talk boasts more than 1 million views, ranks in the Top 10 Food/Education TED Talks of all time and is used for teacher training and workforce development globally. 

According to SHAPE America President Fran Cleland of West Chester University, "When selecting a keynote speaker for our National Convention, we wanted someone who will provide our attendees with a memorable, inspiring, professionally enriching experience. I am confident that Stephen Ritz will exceed that goal." 

For more information about SHAPE America's National Convention & Expo, March 20-24, in Nashville, visit the website and follow hashtag #SHAPENashville. Registration will open on November 8.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit

Press Information

Contact SHAPE America at:
(800) 213-7193