Irmo High students teach peers

Students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at Irmo High School International School for the Arts participated in a week of learning that put students in the teaching position.

A group of four IB seniors put together the event called Student Taught Exploratory Week (STEW) which took place June 2-June 4. STEW allows students to engage in hands-on activities and learning experiences that go beyond the core subjects of English, math, social studies, and science. The exploratory program gives students the opportunity to move around and learn in a different way.

“I got the idea after I visited a school that I was interested in attending for college,” said Matt Matheny. “They had a similar event that had 100 different classes offered all taught by students, teachers, alumni and community members and I thought, that is a really cool idea to try here at Irmo. It really made sense to try it because of the IB Programme’s emphasis on experiences and well-roundedness through both tasks and courses of interest.”

Matt and his team of My Dao, Joe Gentry and Emma Gutshall got approval to implement STEW at Irmo High School and began planning the event back in January. Teachers and students submitted proposals of classes they wanted to teach. The team looked at each proposal to make sure they were appropriate before they were approved. Then scheduling took place after students selected the courses they wanted to take.

“It is cool to see students and teachers passionate about their unique interest and open up a side of them that you wouldn’t normally see in a classroom on a day to day basis,” Matheny said.

Dao added, “I think my favorite part is seeing the excitement of everyone. We have a lot of juniors attending STEW and their excitement to do it again next year is what really makes me happy that we could do this event because it was a fun experience for everyone.”

Fifty classes were offered during the event. The classes included knot tying, making ice cream in a bag, tennis 101, frisbee throwing, basketball, how to change a tire, cards 101, gardening and networking to name a few.

For Emma Gutshall the experience helped her get to know her classmates even better and relieve some stress.

“Because of COVID, we weren’t able to do a lot of things that we would normally do. STEW provided us a relaxing and fun chance to talk to everyone without having to worry about deadlines and grades,” Gutshall said.

“I was in awe of their vision, forethought, excitement, and ability to lead students and teachers in their IB Programme into a fun and engaging week,” said Lauren Prochak, IB Coordinator. “One of the most memorable moments during their work was when they told me that they wanted to make sure that their graduating IB class would have the opportunity to come together after the long two years of COVID impact.”

The school plans to do STEW week again next year.

To learn more about the International Baccalaureate Programme at Irmo High visit: