And Now I’m Doing This Thing

Well, here we are. I’m now an Associate Professor of English Education at The University of Iowa.

This is not something I ever thought I’d be. And now I’m doing this thing. What a trip.


I’ve had lots of jobs. I’ve been:

1. A dishwasher at a convent for retired nuns (Not kidding – The Home of the Good Shepherd in North Oaks).

2. A McDonalds worker (From crew member to floor supervisor to a glorious swing manager).

3. A Subway sandwich artist (I had a gun held to my head over $2,000 one night after the store closed one night. That’s a different story).

4. A long-term care insurance agent (Following in my father’s entrepreneurial and free-spirited footsteps).

5. A research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology at The University of Minnesota (I’d go under cover to local festivals and try to buy beer because I looked young when I was 21. Handsome too. I was a real hotty. Again, not kidding).

6. A barista at the original Dunn Brothers in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul (I’d throw coffee beans at attractive girls to flirt with them. Yikes.)

Let’s move onto careers. Because I consider my work in education as a career. What’s the difference? Who cares. Here’s the different positions I’ve had in my career:

1. A high school English and Drama teacher at Robbinsdale Cooper High School (I learned how to teach in a black box theatre).

2. A high school English and Drama teacher at Roseville Area High School (I learned how much I missed teaching in a black box theatre).

3. A doctoral student at The University of Minnesota (I was teaching and directing at Roseville, teaching at The U of M, supervising student teachers, writing a dissertation, and trying to make time for my wife. I blame 2010-2014 for the gray hairs in my head).

4. An Assistant Professor of Literacy Education at THEEEE Pennsylvania State University Altoona Campus and affiliate faculty at THEEEE Pennsylvania State University Park Campus (and then an Associate Professor after finishing the tenure process. I don’t have much that’s witty to write here other than I learned how to be a college professor thanks to Dear Old State).

5. An Associate Professor of English Education at The University of Iowa (I have no idea what to write about this other than it seems like I’m starting a new life at the youthful age of 42).

Whew. That’s quite a list. Oh, and I was also a founding member and artistic director of Happy Valley Improv for the last five years.

Can I retire yet?


I’m not interested in retirement. Feels like there’s so much left to build. I didn’t add writer to the list above, but I suppose I’m a writer too. I’m always writing. And I’ve probably pulled in a couple hundred dollars in royalties. I’m rich. Just kidding. Quite the opposite. But I can tell you I’ve been paid to write. So I guess I’m a writer too.

I don’t know. I can tell you that my career hasn’t been all that lucrative. But I’m doing work that feels important to me. Contributing to public education with the hope of building a more just and equitable society. Writing about and thinking about and practicing the art of teaching.

Teachers exist so that we know more about what we are. So that we know how to move forward together or, as a great man once wrote in his best-selling memoir, to build. And by best-selling I mean worst-selling.

Look, the list above is about the best way I can think of spending my working life, despite the minutiae, headaches, setbacks, and downright disasters I’ve experienced in my nearly 20 years in education. I still have a heart for what I think the heart of a career in education is about – trying to be a better human being and trying to help others be better human beings.

And now I’m doing that thing in Iowa. Go figure.

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