Beecher Road School will be starting the New Year with a new intermediate school principal, MayLou Torre. Last month, the Woodbridge Board of Education appointed Torre to be Intermediate Principal, working with grades three to six. Torre will begin her duties on Jan. 17.

Torre comes to the Woodbridge School District from John Read Middle School in Redding, where she has been an assistant principal. She has functioned in that position for four years, after serving as Pupil Personnel Director and Director of Special Services in the same system. Prior to coming to Redding, Torre was an assistant principal in Newtown.

After the former principal, Kathleen Peters-Durrigan, tendered her resignation in August, the BOE hired NESDEC to orchestrate a formal search for a replacement. The original search for a new intermediate principal attracted 31 applicants. The search committee evaluated Torre thoroughly, spending one day at the Redding school and hosting Torre at Beecher for one day. The committee, composed of administrators, faculty and parents, felt Torre was the best candidate.

"It's really a good fit," said Interim Superintendent James Connelly.

Ironically, Torre served on the Tri-State Consortium team that evaluated Beecher last year. The Consortium, of which Beecher is a member, functions to help schools to develop strategic plans and to attain continued improvement. The results of the evaluation have helped to guide the school district in planning its future.

When Torre visited Beecher as a Tri-State Consortium team member, she had no idea that she would be returning as the new principal for the intermediate grades. At the time, she was impressed with the school and the staff members. She sensed that Beecher was very student-centered. She does recall thinking, "Wow, if the opportunity ever presented itself to work here, I'd pursue it."

Additionally, Torre comes from a school district that, like Beecher, has also faced Educational Resource Group or ERG status problems. The ERG category of a district is based on a number of factors, including income, educational level of parents, number of English as a second language or ESL students. Recently, the State attempted to change Beecher from an ERG A to an ERG B. The same change in ERG status was proposed by the State for the Redding School System. Like Woodbridge, Redding has vociferously contested the change, maintaining that the proposed change was based on faulty income data. Torre, already familiar with the issue, will help Woodbridge in its efforts to remain an ERG A school.

Torre said, "The letter is not as important as the view that emanates from the staff and the administration. However, ERG A status is very important."

Although the community is looking forward to working with Torre, everyone will be sorry to lose Steve Fusti, the much-beloved Interim Principal of the intermediate grades. Connelly released a statement saying, "We express our appreciation and gratitude to Stephen Fusti for the dedication and leadership displayed during his tenure."