Not many students can say they’ve helped their school win $10,000 – but now North Branford High School Steven Fontenault can and he did so with this 140-character limit in Teen.com’s Here Comes the Boom Contest: "Mrs. Danner was the first not to give up on me when others had. I know I can't say much but I am grateful for what she has done for me."
How It Happened
“When I first found out about the contest, I was watching a Youtube video and there was an ad for the movie and the contest,” said Fontenault. “It asked you about your favorite teacher so I entered it thinking it would be fun and could be cool if I won, but I never expected to hear anything back.”
When it came to choosing which teacher had most inspired him, Fontenault said there was no question in his mind as he said Danner helped his academic career around.
“As much as my teacher before high school tried to help, I just didn’t get it and I was expecting freshman year to be a repeat, but the way Mrs. Danner taught and how she showed me to take notes made more sense,” he said. “I used how she taught us to take notes with other classes. I’m even in an AP class now. She rounded out my academic skills and improved them. She was one of the best teachers I ever had.”
But Fontenault did hear back – he got a letter saying that his nomination of his science teacher, Lauren Danner, was a top-five finalist. The pool was then narrowed down to three finalists including Danner, a teacher from Florida and a teacher from Texas for the voting stage.
Danner had no idea she had been nominated for the contest until Fontenault visited her classroom one day.
“He told me he had entered a contest for teachers who had inspired students and I was very touched, but he said, ‘Wait, there’s more,’ and told me we made it to the finals for the whole country,” said Danner. “He went from telling me I was nominated to a finalist all in one conversation. It was certainly an amazing feeling and I’m so glad we’ve had a positive relationship.”
According to the website, more than 13,000 votes were cast. On Oct. 18, Teen.com announced that Danner was the winner and word spread fast at North Branford High School, which she said was greeted by plenty of cheering.
“I like to see how everyone is so excited about it,” said Fontenault. “It makes me feel good to know I could do something like this.”
Now it’s time for the technicalities as Danner said she and Fontenault have been busy filling out paperwork. They have also met with both Principal Todd Stoeffler and Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker to talk about the next steps.
The contest earmarks the money for extra-curricular activities and both Danner and Fontenault are hoping to spread the funds among many different clubs at NBHS.
“I’m really into the Drama Club and it seems like a lot of times we’re borrowing sets and don’t have money to build our own so that would be cool,” said Fontenault. “The Art Club could use more money for supplies, Kaleidoscope could use some to make the magazine spectacular.
“Mr. Stoeffler had some great ideas like new lights for the greenhouse and new band uniforms,” added Fontenault, who enjoys art but is thinking about possibly becoming a biology teacher one day. “We don’t want to use the whole amount on one thing, but use it for a lot of different clubs so every part of school can be touched.”
Danner, who is no stranger to NBHS as a Class of 1993 graduate, is just as excited about making a difference, especially as she earned this honor after making a career switch from a scientist to a teacher just a few years ago.
“The company I worked at – Neurogen – closed down and I decided to be brave and try something new so I switched careers,” said Danner, who thanked the community for supporting her in voting. “I’m so glad I did because it’s been a dream come true. Teaching is such a rewarding career.”