Charlotte teacher turns nasty email into a teachable moment for his language arts class

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Sticks and stones can break your bones but Waddell Language Academy Teacher Justin Pamenter knows, words from a nasty email can be turned into a teachable moment.

"For me it was more, here we go again," Parmenter said. 

After the Parkland Florida shooting, Parmenter argued on The Charlotte Observer giving guns to teachers was a dangerous idea and offered other alternatives like:

"Support for students who are struggling and who are dealing with emotions and difficult home lives, long before it gets to a breaking point, like it does so many times," Parmenter said.

Then, he got an email slamming his physical appearance and his knowledge on the gun debate subject. Instead of fighting back, Parmenter turned the email into something positive by reading the letter to his 7th grade language arts class. 

"I think they were shocked that an adult would speak to another adult in this manner," Parmenter said.

He asked his students to peer review it and to have a conversation about how this communication should look like instead. What Parmenter wasn't expecting was the maturity his students displayed with their responses. 

"I was impressed with them. It was wisdom I hadn't expected from children their age," Parmenter said. 

One student writing:  "Assuming things about the other person would not help in a debate." Other themes, like respect and having a civil conversation came up in the conversation. 

"They are learning as much from the mistakes that other people make, as they are from the positive things that happen as well," Parmenter said. 

Parmenter says after he did this exercise with his students, he did respond to the nasty email. Sending the news article to the parent.

"I was civil about it and I said ‘I just thought that you would like to see that your email ended up doing some good’," Parmenter said.