Rudy Swofford, principal at Summerfield Charter Academy (SCA), roamed the halls of his school and it just wasn’t the same without hearing laughter from students, engaging staff, or visiting parents. He felt a bit lost and decided to put his feelings into song!
Swofford modified “Lost in the Woods” by Jonathan Groff, a song from Disney’s “Frozen 2,” and performed “Lost in the School.” While it was very similar to the original version, he made slight adjustments to personalize it for his school community.
Swofford is famous for his snow day school closing songs, and he wanted to give SCA students a look at the school while having some fun and spreading joy. That’s when he powered up his camera, warmed up his vocal cords, and shot a video inside the school. “I’ve been told the video made some smile and there were a few tears in seeing the school,” Swofford shared.
The opening scene is Swofford sitting at the piano as he begins to sing.
“You’re still gone, off to a different home than mine. I’m left behind wondering when this will be over.
You had to go, and of course it’s for the best. I probably will catch up when things are better.
But, is this what it feels like to be doing school apart? Am I the only one waiting for school to start?
Now I turn around and find I am lost in the school.
North is south, right is left, when you’re gone.
All we do is work at home, now I’m lost in the school. Lost in the school.”
As Principal Swofford wanders the empty hallways, he makes pitstops in the gymnasium, various classrooms, and the parking lot while he continues to sing.
“Until now the next step was a question of when. I never thought it was a question of whether.
Who am I? Am I the principal guy?
Where am I if the school shut down last? Forever.
Now I know you’re all at home, cause I’m lost in the school.
Up is down, day is night, there’s no Stampede cheer.
You’ve been gone all spring and I’m lost in the school.
Wondering when you will be here. But I’ll wait for a sign that you’ll be here, and all is fine. Until then, lost in the school. I’m lost in the school.”
In his rendition of the popular song, Swofford referenced “Stampede cheer,” which is a nod to the “Stampede Family.” This represents the culture at Summerfield, which is a student-centered family that cares for academic excellence and involves school leaders and educators making decisions based on parents being part of the family.
Swofford is in year 21 with National Heritage Academies (NHA) and has been principal at Summerfield since its opening in 2013. What he misses most about being the school is the students. “I miss seeing their smiles, watching them learn, and overcoming obstacles. I miss seeing the staff dig in and work directly with our kids around the school,” he shared. “It’s times like these you miss the little things, such as the inside joke with a teacher, the nickname you call a student to watch them smile, or the little kindergartener that gives me a knee hug.”
During these times of uncertainty and change, Swofford has continued to be a beacon of joy. Every week, he has a column in his “Principal Word” that he has titled “Everything Will Be Okay.” Within this column, he shares positive stories or ways to be encouraging during this strange season of life and works to spread joy to his school community.
Navigating the challenge of remote learning is no small task, however, SCA remains committed to engaging with their students and parents. “We have adapted and adjusted during the weeks and have really done well. I’m very proud of our staff and our school family for our efforts during the school closure.”
Awesome job, SCA and Principal Swofford!