Longtime FCPS educator named ‘Teacher of the Year’ by Washington Post

A fourth-grade teacher at Colin Powell Elementary School in Centreville for more than 20 years has been named the Washington Post’s 2024 Teacher of the Year.

The newspaper announced last Tuesday, April 23 that Laura Senturia had earned the title — and a $7,500 prize — for her “rare talent for identifying her students’ innermost strengths.”

“I think a lot of educators right now see more of what we’re not doing because there’s so much for us to do,” Senturia said. “It’s been a gift to stop and take a step back and say, ‘Okay, there might be things that I’m not getting to, but I am getting to the important things.'”

Senturia told FFXnow that the honor has been very surreal for her, as she has grappled with “imposter syndrome,” or the fear that she’s unqualified. The feeling first started when Fairfax County Public Schools named her as its Outstanding Elementary School Teacher last year.

“I felt like for the first time, I really, really understood what imposter syndrome was because I work with all these amazing educators and I could see reasons why any of them could also have this honor,” she said.

Senturia said the award has solidified the importance of the relationships she’s built with her current and former students.

“The day the announcement came out, I got emails from former coworkers and people I’ve worked with …It was just this outpouring of love and amazingness,” she said. “But one of the emails came from a former student, who took the time out of their high school life to send me an email that just said, ‘I saw that you won this and you made such an impact for me and my sisters.’ And that completely blew me away.”

Senturia has spent her entire teaching career at Colin Powell Elementary, moving to Fairfax County following a stretch of years working in public relations. The St. Louis native said she immediately felt at home when she arrived at the then-new school building at 13340 Leland Road in 2003.

She said it hasn’t been a conscious decision to stay at Colin Powell or FCPS more generally for two decades, but she’s grateful for the community and resources available to teachers in the system.

“The community really means everything, and we have a really great community here,” Senturia said.

Senturia was selected from a group of 19 finalists who teach at schools in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. She was nominated for the honor by several different people.

“Senturia is the type of teacher that goes above and beyond to show her students how much she cares. Her love of children shines through in all that she does,” Powell principal Jamie Luerssen said in an FCPS press release.

In addition to her classroom duties, Senturia mentors other teachers, sponsors the school’s Student Council Association and has led several fundraising initiatives, including Pennies for Patients, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and building a school in Africa.

“I try to focus on the most important things, which are the relationships with the kids. And that’s what I feel like this award honored,” she said.