English teacher Justin Parmenter describes how his encounters with essays by Thoreau and Emerson, and later with the poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” helped him to understand how literature can provide both an escape from the troubles of life and a connection to others who’ve seen and felt the same things though they may have lived centuries before.

By seeing himself in the transformative literature of Wordsworth, Thoreau, and Emerson, Parmenter felt like he had “the power to make changes” in his own life. Wordsworth’s Romantic vision and Thoreau’s and Emerson’s Transcendentalist philosophy jointly endowed Parmenter’s worldview with a greater meaning. As a teacher, he strives to cultivate a sense of personal connection between his individual students and works of literature.

– Justin Parmenter (Charlotte Mecklenburg School District, NC)