GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Thirteen-year old Megan Kreie read her winning essay for the first time Tuesday in front of its subject, Fruita Middle School band teacher Joe Webb.
The two were being honored at Barnes and Noble bookstore - she for her writing, and he for being a great teacher.
Webb said he was totally surprised to learn that one of his students had written an essay about him for the "My Favorite Teacher" contest sponsored by Barnes and Noble, which is located at 2451 Patterson Road.
The essay will now be entered into a regional contest for the chance for Webb to be named "Barnes and Noble National Teacher of the Year."
Kreie chose to write about her band teacher after her mother, Rachelle Kreie, told her about the contest.
"He doesn't pick favorites," Kreie said. "He'll help anyone - it doesn't matter how good you are at music - he always helps. And he challenges us."
Kreie plays percussion in the seventh grade concert band and performs on the drum set for the middle school jazz band.
"I feel like I've really improved since being in his band class," Kreie said.
This is the third year that Barnes and Noble stores nationwide have held the contest. Students are invited to nominate a teacher via an essay, a poem, or thank you letter that shows how the instructor has influenced their life, and why they appreciate and admire their teacher.
"I have won other awards," Webb said, "but to have a student recognize you like this on her own - this is a huge honor. It means more to me than anything from my peers or the district."
Booksellers judged the entries based on "the compelling nature of the teacher's qualities, the sincerity of the student's appreciation and the quality of expression and writing," said Laura Mettauer, in charge of community relations for the local Barnes and Noble.
If Webb wins the regional competition, he will receive a Nook tablet from the store, as well as a $500 gift card. From the pool of five regional winners, the company will name one teacher as the "Barnes and Noble Teacher of the Year." That person will receive $5,000, and his or her school will also receive $5,000.
In previous years, some schools have introduced the contest to students as an assignment.
There was no room within the "common core curriculum" to give the assignment in school this year, said Mettauer.
"Megan thought enough of her teacher to do this on her own," Mettauer said.
Webb has taught band at FMS for 21 years and before that was a band teacher at Orchard Mesa Middle School for three years. Webb also taught in Norwood for seven years and one year in Canon City.
"I had a junior high school band teacher who inspired me and motivated me," Webb said.
"That's when I decided I wanted to be a teacher - for the love of music. And I try and inspire kids to love music."