01/02/2013 03:17 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2013

Donna Page, Former Sandy Hook Principal, Felt 'Calling' To Come Out Of Retirement After Shooting

Nearly three weeks after a gunman tore through the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing six school employees and 20 children, students of the devastated Connecticut school are returning to classes in a new building, a new town and with a "new old principal."

Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung died while lunging at the gunman Dec. 14, helping to save many others at the school. She is remembered as having dedicated her life to education. Now, her predecessor, Donna Page, is stepping up to fill the role, telling parents it's her "calling" to come out of retirement to serve as interim principal in the wake of the shooting, ABC News reports.

Page led Sandy Hook Elementary as its principal for 14 years, before retiring in 2010. She broke the news of her return in a phone call to families, parent and classroom volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News.

"I started crying when I heard the message. It's still emotional. It was such a blessing and such an amazing relief because it was like, 'Oh my, now we can breathe. They're going to be okay,'" Dryer said. "She's amazing. She's an extremely strong woman. She is the perfect person to come in and take control and lead this school staff forward."

In a statement to families on the Sandy Hook website, Page wrote she plans to help parents become acclimated to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, located in the former Chalk Hill Middle School in neighboring Monroe, Conn.

"I want parents and families enduring the loss of their precious children to know their loved ones are foremost in our hearts and minds as we move forward," Page wrote. "We recognize your needs are paramount in our preparations and planning. Your strength and compassion has been, and will continue to be an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this piece incorrectly noted the date of the shooting as Dec. 15. We regret the error.



Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting