Barnes & Noble recently held its annual My Favorite Teacher contest, and for the first time an East County instructor has made the cut.

O'Hara Middle's Michael Jennett was nominated by student Julie Kablmiller, a sixth-grader at the Oakley school.

Students nationwide were asked to nominate their favorite teacher by writing essays, poems or thank-you letters explaining how their instructor has "influenced their life and reveal why they appreciate and admire him or her," according to B&N. Entries were judged on the "compelling nature of the teacher's qualities, the sincerity of the student's appreciation, and the quality of expression and writing." Kablmiller wrote an essay about Jennett, who teaches sixth-grade social studies and science.

Jennett appreciates Kablmiller's recognition. "This honor reinforces that teaching is a rewarding endeavor," he said.

He was happy to read in the essay that "I have helped Julia in making social studies and science more likable subjects. They are really fascinating subjects for me and I am glad that my enthusiasm for these subjects came through to her."

There is mutual-admiration for this duo.

"Julia is talented, dedicated and has a great work ethic," Jennett said, adding that he appreciates "her interesting questions in class as well as her help in class and great attitude."

Antioch's Lone Tree store recently held an event in honor of Jennett, where he received a special award for this achievement, along with praise from the community. Kablmiller received a certificate of recognition for her winning efforts.

While the award is officially Jennett's, he's happy his student is being honored for her "writing talents and hard work.

"She has really earned the recognition. I wish her the best in the future of the competition."

Jennett will now be entered into the regional competition where five winners will be chosen. Each regional winner receives a NOOK Tablet and a $500 B&N gift card. From a pool of five regional winners, the National Teacher of the Year is named and wins $5,000. The winning teacher's school also gets $5,000.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: It's an annual event that many Iron House Elementary students wait for each spring. And, this year seemed more worth than the wait than usual.

Literature Day featured a "book swap," ensuring "everyone went home with books," said Michele Gaudinier, principal.

As expected, the event was filled with reading. Guest readers visited rooms and teachers even switched classes to "celebrate the love of literature." "The kids love (this day), Gaudinier said.

This year, many students wore comfy clothes to "ensure a relaxing day." And, "green eggs and ham" were served in several classrooms.

But, the big draw was a visit by author Gary Soto.

"(He) was amazing. He really knows how to draw the kids in to his assembly ... (he) told the kids several stories about his life growing up," Gaudinier said.

"When I listened to him speak, I could visualize his neighborhood and how he looked and felt." A favorite author of the school, Soto read "Chato's Kitchen" to third-graders, and talked with fourth- and fifth-graders on various topics, including his "Chato Goes Cruisin" and "Too Many Tamales."

Gaudinier said Soto was chosen because so many students adore his books.

"The students were mesmerized by his stories and his unique presentation, rich in culture and history," she said. "The students had loads of questions for him. It was a wonderful day," which ended with a quick song in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday and cupcakes for every student.

BANDED TOGETHER: Antioch High's marching band hit the Oakland A's field in fine form recently after an invitation to play the "National Anthem." The 30 students, led by director Tony Cavalleri, played before the game against the Houston Astros. Principal Louie Rocha was in attendance.

"The kids did a great job," said Cavalleri, who is in his third year as AHS band director. "They were excited to be playing at the A's game, and they were very happy with their performance."

The event adds to the band's long list of performances this year, including the California Music Educators Association Festival hosted by Deer Valley in March. The band has also competed in several reviews, including those in Santa Cruz and Napa.

The band will next be performing during AHS's upcoming Visual and Performing Arts Showcase and during the spring concert in May.

For more information, call 925-779-7550, ext. 60165.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. You can also reach Judith Prieve at jprieve@bayareanewsgroup.com.