Danielle Serio Wins “Extra Miler” Award


Juan Galindo

Danielle Serio holding the certificate for the “Extra Miler” award she won on November 8.

Grace Aitken, Op-Ed Editor

Recently, Danielle Serio, an English teacher at SJHHS, won the Extra Miler Award for her work with the Queer Alliance club. She serves as advisor for the club, which works to bring together both queer students and allies at school as well as reach out to other LGBTQ+ youth in Orange County.

The Extra Miler Award is awarded by the  Capistrano Unified School District to teachers, administrators, and staff in the various public schools that go above and beyond their job description. Serio was nominated by a colleague and was presented the award at the district’s monthly board meeting on November 8.

Three hundred faculty members from all over the district attended the board meeting, including a handful of students. Principal Jennifer Smalley also attended the meeting to support Serio. “It was cool having a lot of my colleagues and teachers that I know from other districts that were there for some other reason but were also there to support me for that award. It was fun seeing everyone and feeling recognized.” said Serio.

A student from the school district gave a speech about all her accomplishments, and she ended the short ceremony with a photo with the Board of Trustees. She was rewarded for many things, including earning a grant to fund the development of a LGBTQ+ themed library in her classroom. All students from SJHHS are welcome to stop by and borrow a LGBTQ+ inclusive book.

“I really love working with the club to find books to add to our library that students who are both in the club and not in the club can enjoy, appreciate, and sort of expand their mind on what the possibilities of fiction and nonfiction are,” said Serio.

Serio has been a very active advisor for the QA club since the very beginning. Just in her first year she got the district’s nondiscrimination policy altered to include gender identity.

“It was added as language that teachers, staff and other students couldn’t discriminate students because of gender identity…I really like being able to work on things like that and finding those gaps that are still there in our policy as a whole,” Serio said.

She’s always just been a great leader for me…she has done so much for the club and just for queer students on campus in general

— Benzan

The QA club has had a large impact on its community so far, with the help of Ms. Serio. Just at the beginning of this year, the QA club held a supply drive. All items collected went towards helping homeless LGBT youth in Orange County.

“I love it when the club can find a way to give back to the LGBT youth that are outside of our school,” Serio said.

Another aspect of the club Serio loves is its social side. “I love having a space for students to feel safe and comfortable, where they’re going to have peers and several adults who are going to be available to them and supportive,” Serio said.

A student and president of the Queer Alliance club Luciana Benzan has known Serio since she was a freshman. Serio has been a great influence in her life, and has been a huge help to her this year as one of the presidents of Queer Alliance.

“She’s always just been a great leader for me…she has done so much for the club and just for queer students on campus in general,” Luciana said.