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Michael DeCarbo

​​An Evening Flying Paper Airplanes Leads to Career Validation

Santiago Canyon College (SCC) communication professor Michael DeCarbo recounts how a former student validated his passion for teaching.

Image of Michael DeCarboEvery year, SCC and the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) team up to put on Community Science Night at SCC. Community Science Night lets kids get up close and personal with science to see how much fun it can be. Professors from across SCC’s campus are invited to host an experiment or activity. Students from elementary schools in the OUSD visit SCC and get hands-on learning with their families.

DeCarbo has done an activity for several years of flying paper airplanes. Each year he has his parents, who were also teachers, come to help the kids fold paper airplanes. During the 2017 event, one of DeCarbo’s students from 10 years ago came up to talk with him. One thing that this student told him was that he was one of the best teachers she had had at SCC and that she had already told her daughter that when she goes to SCC she has to take DeCarbo’s class.

While this former student was talking to him and singing his praises, his mom was sitting right behind her listening. Hearing this student praise his work as a teacher almost made his mom cry. DeCarbo felt validated that he was in the right place and doing what he’s passionate about. The fact that his parents who were teachers were also there and heard this conversation made the moment even more stunning. He said, “My mom was just filled with pride knowing that I helped to change a life and was impactful.”