Shepaug Valley Middle/High School is welcoming a new member to its administrative team.

Lori Ferreira, the former Nonnewaug High School principal, began work Aug. 12 as the assistant principal.

Ferreira and Shepaug principal Kim Gallo have a working relationship dating back to their time together in the Naugatuck school system, then at Nonnewaug and before that as friends when both were students at Naugatuck High School.

"Lori, Dawn Hochsprung and I had many discussions about the direction we wanted to take education," Gallo said.

Hochsprung was the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal killed while protecting students in the Newtown shootings on Dec. 14, 2012.

The three women were friends and colleagues.

"When I called Lori about the position here at Shepaug, I had a vision for this school going into the future," Gallo said, "and I knew she would help me achieve those goals."

Ferreira added, "After working in Region 14 (at Nonnewaug), I came to love the students and parent community in this part of the state. I knew academic rigor was something Kim was invested in and, when she said I would be working in that vein, I knew I could believe her."

Ferreira has been in education for more than 25 years. She started as an English teacher in Meriden. Later in her career, she served as principal at Naugatuck and then at Nonnewaug high schools.

"What originally attracted me to education was a love of the English language and literature," Ferreira said, "so I became an English teacher.

"But what keeps you in education is being around teachers and students who love learning and working together to make a difference," she added.

Gallo and Ferreira have a challenging year ahead working with new state mandates for required teacher evaluations and the common core curriculum to implement.

They are also bringing the sixth through 12th grades together as one learning cycle.

"Most importantly, I'll work to make Shepaug a challenging, supportive place kids love to come to," Ferreira said. "A place where they'll learn to be creative and passionate about learning."

Ferreira resigned from her position at Nonnewaug in December 2011 to devote herself to the care of her mother, who had Alzheimer's.

With her mother's death in December 2012, Ferreira said she knew it was time to get back to the work she loves.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322