Ramon Gonzalez has been a life-long educator. His commitment to social justice started in college as a leading protester for financial aid and the creation of the Hispanic American Studies program at Cornell University. 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 15 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. Seven 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 was admitted in 2009 to the Teachers College Urban Education Leadership Doctoral Program. In 2010 he was named a Principal’s Fellow for the Center of Arts Education. His school received national recognition when it was named the 2010 Intel Schools of Distinction Award winner for middle school mathematics. The school also received further national recognition as one of three winners for 2011 "colegio de ano" or school of the year for dual language program by the Spanish Embassy. He currently serves as a mentor for aspiring leaders interns from City University, Baruch College, Mercy College and Teachers College. He holds a BA from Cornell University, a MS from City College, a MA and Ed.M from Teachers College Columbia University. His current interests are social justice, financial literacy, and mentoring young leaders. He recently created a 501 (c)(3) along with several of his teacher-leaders and has started working on his proposal for an inner-city boarding school for at-risk students in the South Bronx. He has created a community reading initiative with lending libraries at local bodegas to increase reading materials to South Bronx families to participate in community reading time every Thursday at 6pm. He resides in East Harlem, across the street from the tenement that he was raised in as a testament to his belief in providing an accessible role model for high poverty youth in his neighborhood.