Virtual graduation party: I stand with more ‘yeas’ than ‘boos’ after a stressful year fighting back

Here is where I stand.
I graduated from Drake University and earned my master’s degree.
This was the most demanding course of study I’ve ever undertaken.
A quarter-century between stints as a student made me rusty.
I remember when I handed in my last paper to my professor, she emailed me and said I was good to go.
I wrote back: “You mean it? I’m going to graduate?”
I earned high marks, but that last semester — student teaching and preparing for licensure — is a lot.
I struggled at midterm. I didn’t think I was going to make it.
My professor and my supervising teacher assured me I would.
I did, but I could hardly believe it.
Sometimes I login to my student records on the Drake website just to see the degrees earned and double-check the Master of Arts in teaching is still there.
It is.
I’ve had a few interviews. I’ve applied for jobs across the metro.
I don’t have a full-time job for fall yet.
But my teachers tell me this is normal. Veteran teachers I know say when their careers started, they didn’t have a job until school started.
This plays hell on my anxiety.
Yet I endure.
I am going to be doing some more work for the Marion County Gazette, a weekly newspaper that approached me earlier this year about writing a column.
I’m going to be putting in 20 hours a week remotely covering public meetings and other tasks.
I never thought I would practice journalism again, but never say never.
There’s something pure about watching a public meeting, writing down the decisions the elected officials make, and reporting it to readers.
No spin.
No hype.
Just the facts.
The other half of my summer plans are somewhat tenuous. I’m supposed to teach summer school.
But my license is tied up.
The Iowa Legislature finally passed the bill that waives expensive tests after completing an accredited teacher prep program.
Now I must grit it out until Gov. Kim Reynolds signs the bill.
She has 30 days.
Insiders tell me she’ll sign it. It passed both houses unanimously.
That kind of bipartisanship is rarer than a jackalope sighting on a snipe hunt.
(Sorry, that’s an old country kid joke.)
I’m supposed to start work at school on June 6. If the governor signs it before that, I’m golden.
If not, I’m out of luck.
I’m eligible for a temporary license, which allows me to teach for one year without taking those tests.
I applied for that license, but the school district that hired me must fill out a form for me to teach under the temporary license.
Their policy is only to do that for a full-time position.
So, I’m waiting.
And as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
The yeas out way the boos and that feels good.
I graduated.
I’ve got at least some work with the potential for more.
I won’t relax until I’ve signed a contract to teach for a full year with some district here in the metro.
So, that’s the situation.
First, thank you to all of you for your cards, letters, notes, and, of course, your donations.
All of you made it possible for me to remake my life in middle age.
I want to describe how deeply that generosity has touched me — how it has changed me as a person and my outlook on human beings and myself.
I don’t have the command of the language to do that.
Thank you just isn’t enough.
But thank you.
I hope this is the last time I come to you to ask for support.
I’m in a delicate position between finishing school and starting work.
I need to cover expenses for June. I won’t see any paychecks until the middle of June. And if the teaching job falls through over the licensing kerfuffle, well, that’s a parade of horrible I decline to contemplate until I must.
So, my friends, I ask you again for a little support.
If I can just get over this hump, I’ll be on my way.
Every contribution helps. If you hadn’t gotten around to sending that graduation card, now’s the time to celebrate.
I thank all of you again for your support.
Thank you for renewing my spirit and keeping me afloat. You were my life preserver.
I’m very close to shore now. Another tug would be very helpful.
With love and hope,
Daniel P. Finney

Daniel P. Finney
1217 24th St.
Apt 36
Des Moines, Iowa 50311
Venmo @newsmanone
Zelle @newsmanone

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.

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