Trading places

How a student’s passion for the IB programmes saw him go from learner to teacher

When Jordan Schemmel sat in his higher-level history class more than a decade ago, he wasn’t just studying for a qualification he was seeing his future. Jordan is now on the other side of the desk, having moved from eager IB Diploma Programme student to IB teacher. And it’s all thanks to the teaching he received. I went into education because I was so inspired by the teachers I had when I was an IB student he says.

After graduating from Spruce Creek High School in Florida, USA, Jordan chose to stay in his home state, studying at the University of North Florida. Since then he has remained close to home, working as a social sciences teacher at Florida’s Edward H White High School. When Jordan first started at the school, it did not offer any IB programmes, but his passion for the IB has been instrumental in bringing the Diploma Programme to Edward H White students. The school is now in the final phases of authorization.

When the opportunity came along to bring an IB programme to my school, I jumped at it says Jordan. As a graduate myself, I was the natural choice for the job of Diploma Programme coordinator.

Jordan will lead the first generation of Edward H White students through the challenges of the Diploma Programme: I can say: Everything you will do, I have been there let me show you how And he will turn any negative experiences into positives for his students: I procrastinated a lot, but now I teach how important it is to tackle big projects bit by bit.

Edward H White High School has a large population of students from low-income homes, which makes it very different to where Jordan studied. Where I work now is more diverse, and our Diploma Programme reflects that. Any student who is willing to work hard can be successful in the IB what’s vital is passion, energy and perseverance.

Jordan learned the importance of those three attributes while he was an IB student, thanks to his Inspirational teachers. A great teacher inspires passion about their subject, he says. Every IB teacher I had got me excited about their content and helped me see how I could use it anywhere in the world. He recalls his chemistry teacher leading her class in putting on a science magic show for the neighbouring school: I was never a science person, but she made me fall in love with the subject.

This passion for a subject is what Jordan now tries to rouse in his students with much success. He runs Model UN conferences and recently took six students to a conference in New York, where one put a question to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A course on international relations led to another student taking on the cause of child soldiers in the Congo, raising over US$1,000.

He hopes the Diploma Programme will lead to more such experiences: The best thing is seeing the impact the IB has on students. A lot of these kids wouldn’t have had the chance to do it, but now they will go far in life because of it.

On the wall of Jordan’s office two frames hang side by side: one contains his IB qualification, the other a picture of his senior IB class. I tell my students: You’ll go through a lot of tough times together, but your friendships will last, he says. Once you’re IB, you’re always IB.


Join Jordan and fellow alumni in the IB alumni network, by visiting the IB alumni network blog at, where you can learn more about this growing community and ways to get involved.