FIT Profile: Joe Corbo
by Anne E. O’Malley
Surfer, stand-up paddle boarder and PADI certified (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), Joe Corbo is FIT. His main gig is as a 6th and 7th grade science teacher at Island School, where he’s taken on the role of director of the after-school Scuba Club —and he’s part-time scuba instructor for Kaua`i Down Under.
Corbo loves the notion of classrooms without walls.
“I feel more learning takes place outside the classroom, says Corbo. I love teaching science — I’d love teaching science outdoors.
“That’s why I love scuba. Actually, all my science classes are very hands-on.”
As the Scuba Club director, his role is to facilitate —arranging training for the students to get PADI certified by someone with more experience, and afterwards, arranging dives with them.
Says Corbo, “I had a photographer from Dive Training Magazine go with us one time; and a speaker from reef.org — an organization focused on conserving marine ecosystems; and we’ve done a reef clean-up at Koloa Landing with Scott Bacon and Malama Na `Apapa.”
Asked if there’s a favorite part to the Scuba Club gig, he says “Taking kids into a new world. A lot of times after they’ve done their first underwater dive, they say, ‘Wow, cool, like going into outer space.’”
Corbo has always been into science, even majored in astronomy and astrophysics before questioning what he’d do with it and switching his major to earn a B.A. at Penn State in communications, focusing on advertising and public relations.
It was as a marketing intern in Costa Rica, where among other things, he wrote articles about other interns there for their hometown newspapers, that something clicked.
“I would go with them on the surfing trips, and they said, ‘You should teach surfing.’ It was also about ecology, all kinds of wildlife — monkeys and crocodiles — really neat, and that got me interested in outdoor education.”
Corbo got into surfing in Hawai`i while visiting here during high school.
“Growing up, I played football, lacrosse, did track, and was recruited to play ice hockey at Penn State. I tore an anterior cruciate ligament when I was a freshman in college, came back from it for another year, then felt I didn’t want long term difficulty from it, I wanted to stay in shape other ways.”
Surfing was one of those ways. Returning home from Hawai`i, he bought a surfboard; landlocked, he’d drive five hours to New Jersey to surf. And there was Cape Cod in Massachusetts and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
As an adult vacationing on Kaua`i, he interviewed for a position with Island School and hired on.
A day in the life of this scuba guy may include any combination of yoga, weight-lifting, running, surfing — or if there are no waves, stand-up paddleboarding on the Wailua or Niumalu Rivers.
Working out, eating well — Corbo walks the talk. His advice: — “If you want to be a scuba diver, part of safe diving practice is being in shape. Being in good physical fitness reduces the risk of decompression sickness.
“You’re more efficient in the water if you’re in good shape and streamlined. Think of it as being aerodynamic — you want to be as efficient as possible going through the water so you can control air consumption.”