Ryan Dawson is eager to work with Foothill students in the hope that he can set at least a few of them on the path toward bright futures.
“I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with teenagers, and I like teenagers,” Dawson said. “I don’t get totally frustrated with teenagers as much as some people might.”
Dawson will get plenty of experience working with teens as Foothill’s new school resource officer. He replaces Officer Eric Silacci, who moved on after his four-year stint in the job.
Dawson, 33, has been a Pleasanton police officer for three years. He jumped at the chance to apply for school resource officer when the job came open.
“In my former career, I used to work with teenagers,” he explained. “I’ve always wanted to do that once I became a police officer.”
Dawson, a San Diego native, worked as a church youth director in the Los Angeles area after graduating from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. He held the youth director job for nearly five years before deciding to move into police work as a more stable career.
Dawson and his wife, an East Bay native, moved to the Bay Area, where he attended the police academy at the Napa Valley Criminal Justice Training Center. He is pleased to have landed the school resource officer job after only three years with the Pleasanton police force.
“The general goal of a school resource officer is to make it so the schools are safe for the students and staff,” Dawson said. “How I do that is what I’ll be learning over this next six months to a year.”
Dawson plans to be a visible presence on campus, walking among students and staff as he gets to know everyone and becomes familiar with the culture at Foothill. His open-door policy applies to both students and their parents.
“I’m obviously very willing to talk to parents and work with them since they’re the primary influence in these kids’ lives,” he said.
High school, Dawson said, “is a really big crossroads for people in their lives. The world view that you get and the way that you choose to live your life, you make a lot of those decisions when you’re a teenager. Not that you can’t choose to change those things as you get older, but the things that you choose to do as a teenager make a big difference in your life.”
It may sound simple, but Dawson said the best approach with teens is to treat them with respect.
“When I deal with teenagers, I treat them with respect from the beginning,” he said. “That tends to work. Teenagers don’t like to be talked down to. They’re at that in-between stage when they’re not kids, but they’re on the way to becoming adults. It’s important to be sensitive to that.”
Officer Dawson will be the guest speaker at the Friday Forum for parents on Jan. 21 at 9 a.m. in room C-6.
You may contact Officer Dawson at his Foothill office at email@example.com or 461-6689.
Posted Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011