Humans of DGN: Security guard James Pedersen

Humans of DGN: Security guard James Pedersen

No matter how long you’ve been a DGN student, there’s a good chance you’ve either seen or had a quick conversation with security guard James Pedersen. Often found roaming the halls chatting it up with students, Pedersen is a friendly face well known amongst the student body. This school year marks Pedersen’s third year as a security guard. From 1989 to 2019, Pedersen  served as a police officer in Hillside. At the age of 52, he retired after a fulfilling career.

“I retired after 30 years of being a police officer. When I started, I was young, in shape, and it was fun and interesting for me. In college I took criminal justice classes and I was like, ‘wow,’ this is it,” Pedersen said. 

Being a police officer, while rewarding, requires a variety of personality traits in order to deal with the intense obstacles brought your way. Pedersen decided to branch out post- retirement and take on the role of a security guard, embracing the skills he obtained in his previous career. 

“After being a policeman, even after you retire, you are always a policeman. I needed a job when I retired at 52, so I reached out to Mr. Rau, who I’ve known forever, because I feel like I could still do some good in the community,” Pedersen said. “This was the best way for me to continue to be a positive person because I’m outgoing, and what better way than coming to a high school. And especially knowing Mr. Rau, I knew I could fit in.” 

Pedersen finds joy working in the high school environment, and he reflects that it reminds him of when his own children went through those ages. Working  at DGN gives him the opportunity to make connections with students and make an optimistic impact on everyone he encounters. 

“My favorite part of the job is just talking to the kids. It’s like being with my own kids. You talk to your parents at home, but there’s certain things you don’t talk to your parents about or your friends about. I found after years being a policeman, sometimes talking to a perfect stranger you’ll get an honest opinion. With all the kids here knowing we’re retired policemen, sometimes they’ll have questions,” Pedersen said. 

While, Pedersen stays busy working the day-to-day security of the school, ensuring that students are where they need to be, and keeping our learning environment safe, he also has the chance to enjoy other school events. 

  “I like the football games, homecoming, and prom. Football games are fun because I love football, but prom and homecoming I like to see you guys having fun. We want to keep you guys safe and I enjoy it because, again, we’re retired policeman so what better way to help you have a good time than keeping you safe.”

Pedersen agrees that all aspects of the job coincide with his extroverted personality, and students and staff would agree that his easy going personality positively impacts their day to day at DGN.

“Working here keeps me young. I’m very sociable and the way for me to be proactive is to be a positive role model,” Pedersen said. “This was a perfect transition from my old job because I could talk all day long. I’m doing my job and trying to be a positive role model but I also get to socialize which I think is important for everybody.”

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