Meet Melissa Serio: From school principal to HopSkipDrive’s Driver Programs Manager
Written by Aylin Cook
Meet HopSkipDrive Driver Programs Manager Melissa Serio. With years of experience in education — from Teach For America to serving as a junior high school principal — she helps CareDrivers better understand the unique needs of our riders.
Tell us about your journey working in education.
Equity has always been a driving force in my life. Coming from a low-income background, I was the first one to graduate from college in my family. I knew that if weren’t for my own public education experience K-12, I wouldn’t be where I was. I wanted to be a part of the solution to bring equity and opportunity to children everywhere.
After college, I joined Teach For America and taught High School Spanish in St. Louis, MO. I then found a passion for developing adults to be the best educators they could and joined the Teach For America staff for 5 years serving as a Teacher Coach and Culture Coach.
After developing teachers’ classrooms in St. Louis and Los Angeles I decided to make a change at a school level and became the Dean of Culture at PUC Lakeview Charter Academy. Just a year later I became Principal.
What attracted you to HopSkipDrive and your current role?
After over a decade of working in education, I was eager to learn and apply my skills in new ways to close the opportunity gap. When I found HopSkipDrive it was the perfect match!
As a principal, I would frequently ask my middle schoolers what my number one priority was as their principal, they would reply in unison, “safety!” Creating a safe space for children both physically and emotionally is foundational to ensuring children excel in education and are able to engage in opportunity. Here at HopSkipDrive, safety is everything!
How do you feel your education background makes you uniquely suited to your role and HopSkipDrive?
As the Driver Programs manager, I am able to leverage my knowledge and skills in working with children and adult learning. I am thrilled to develop our Care Curriculum that will enhance the experience of our HopSkipDrive community as a whole. It will give CareDrivers the chance to learn and apply best practices to create a safe space for all children, regardless of background, ability, and race. I am grateful to be a part of the solution in giving all children the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
Do you have a personal story about how transportation affected your future success?
In elementary school, I took the bus to and from school. Our bus stop was the first to be picked up in the morning and the last to be dropped off in the afternoon. We spent about two hours every day on the school bus. This meant my parents had to get creative with carpool for my brother and me to get to sports practices or we would just end up waiting for my parents.
However, over the summers during my middle school years, my mom was able to work out a carpool to get me to attend a theatre camp at our local theatre. These four summers had a significant impact in my life, I was able to build confidence and made friends that I still have to this day. This was an opportunity that I would not have had if my parents were not able to get transportation.
What do you love most about working to give children opportunities?
As an educator, I noticed that students who engaged in additional activities after school would build or enhance their self-esteem, collaborative ability, and many other social-emotional skills at a faster rate than children did not have the same opportunities. I love being a part of the solution to removing transportation as a barrier to opportunity.