Ramon Gonzalez has been a life long educator. He started teaching in 1995. He taught technology, English, and mathematics to 6th and 7th graders. The Merrow Report, a nationally syndicated show on education, spent the entire year documenting Ramon and his 6th grade class at IS 44. The recordings evolved into a three part series called “Growing up in the City”, a program about race, education and identity in New York City. It continues to air on PBS 10 years later! Ramon has also written about adolescent issues and urban gangs. He contributed a chapter called “Welcome Home Boyz: Building Communities through Cultural Capital” in a book titled Adolescent Gangs: Old Issues, New Approaches edited by Curtis Branch, a professor at Columbia University in 1999. Ramon found through his research that some of the major issues that deeply influenced young people to join gangs were their need for a familial structure, lack of a clear vision of their future, and few models of success. These findings would serve as the basis for his school, which was founded in 2003. Ramon Gonzalez is the founding principal of MS 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, a middle school in the South Bronx. Ramon started his school in one of the most dangerous middle schools in NYC at the time. Less than 10% of his students were at grade level in reading and mathematics when the school was created. Six years later, 65% of his students are on grade level in English and 85% in math. Ramon’s community activism has deeply influenced his school. Students take courses in financial literacy and participate in a school-wide economy where they can earn, save, and spend “school bucks”. He was named a 2007-2008 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College/Columbia University. He currently serves as a mentor for interns from City University, Baruch College and Mercy College. He holds a BA from Cornell University, a MS from City College, a M.A. and Ed.M. from Teachers College Columbia University. Fun Fact: Ramon spent five summers in his youth tipping cows, hiking, and skipping rocks during his summer with a family as part of the Fresh Air Fund. Over that time he thought the most dangerous ghetto was less scary then walking alone through the woods in Vermont!