Washington Fields Intermediate teacher honored for national women leadership award

Composite image | Background photo from Unsplash, inset photo of Maren Powers courtesy of Maren Powers, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Maren Powers, a seventh grade language arts teacher at Washington Fields Intermediate School, was a recipient of the 2020 Rebecca Burnette DuFour Scholarship, which recognizes 10 women educators in the United States who demonstrate exceptional leadership in their school communities.

Washington Fields Intermediate in Washington, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Washington County School District, St. George News

Powers, who began her teaching career in the fall of 2016, was nominated for the award by Washington Fields Principal Robert Sonju, who told St. George News that what inspired him to nominate Powers was her outstanding work in the classroom and her role as a member of the school’s vision team.

“She’s a natural leader, a wonderful educator,” Sonju said. “She has a desire to move forward in her career and become a school leader, whether a principal or at the district level, and I believe she has the tools and the abilities to lead a school or a district, and because of that, I felt compelled to recognize her for this award.”

Sonju said Powers’ thoughtful approach to education and her ability to connect will all types of students really stands out.

“She’s so talented with all students – students who need to be challenged in the classroom as well as those that may struggle.”

To Sonju, leadership means providing stability and hope during difficult times, as well as having a keen ability to listen to the myriad of voices and help make decisions to support people, remain focused and understand the heart of the purpose – all of which he said Powers embodies.

“We’re presented in education with some complex problems in schools and in the classroom, and she always not only has great ideas but is optimistic in her approach to resolving problems and meeting the needs of kids.”

Though Sonju nominated Powers before the school closures occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Powers has continued to step up to the challenge of finding ways to stay connected with students, something which has been a prime challenge for teachers across the nation.

“They have so many applicants for these awards and this scholarship,” Sonju said. “For her to be recognized nationally is pretty amazing and I think a credit to her and what she does as an educator.”

Powers told St. George News that as someone who grew up with all sisters and a single mother, receiving this award for her has been a humbling experience.

“I’ve had some incredible mentors here in Washington County – from coaches to team members to principals,” she said. “They’ve all really supported me and set me up to be successful in my career and be able to do whatever I want to do in education.”

Powers said while she enjoys teaching language arts, she sees her role as founded in a belief and purpose of supporting Washington County students.

“In my life, starting with my third grade teacher, I’ve so many good mentors and people looking after me that I just really wanted to give back and help be that person for students,” she said, “and I love our kids, especially the ones who might be considered harder – they are my absolute favorite.”

Powers said the best advice she has received came from Sonju.

“He told me that the best leaders are the ones who build the best relationships with people,” she said, “and to lead is to have good relationships with people and care about people. And I’ve tried to kind of instill that in my philosophy as a leader and as an educator with my students and team mates.”

She said she is grateful for all the people she works with and those who have impacted her throughout her life.

“I’d be nothing without all the people around me.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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