Original principal brings the four S’s

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 9/6/23

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, Swingholm knew with being the daughter of an educator, that teaching and helping small children was something she was born to do.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Original principal brings the four S’s


TORRINGTON – Teaching has been a long-lived dream for Lincoln Elementary School Principal, Lana Swingholm, since childhood.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, Swingholm knew with being the daughter of an educator, that teaching and helping small children was something she was born to do.

When most five-year old children are dreaming of walking on the moon or venturing to the bottom of the sea, Swingholm was already imagining being the head of the classroom before she even got to kindergarten.

“When I was five years old, I was playing with my mom’s art table and had my own imaginary classroom right in front of me,” Swingholm began. “My mom is a long-time educator who was an English and Art teacher, and at 88 years old finally retired.”

Living where “when the hippies ruled the town,” as the principal joked, Swingholm grew up in a fun, caring environment, which at first prompted her to consider other careers at first.

“I worked as a traveling tourist agent, then went into management at Safeway and stayed there for a very long time,” Swingholm said. “It wasn’t until I started volunteering in my own children’s classroom where I re-sparked that passion for kids. So, I went back to school full time and embarked on an adventure as a kindergarten teacher.”

Swingholm had a passion, maybe even a dream for teaching long before it even started, however once she began teaching kindergarten full-time, she realized this was going to be her true calling for life. It was here that her passion for educating children cultivated. This would only continue to fuel her desire to continue in her own education so that she may benefit the next crop of kids.

“I learned [with kindergarten] that every five minutes you have a new capacity to keep things moving, and within the first year I knew that I wanted to go into Special Education. I taught kindergarten for three years, and then went and got myself a Master’s in Special Ed. from Regis University in Denver.”

On top of having a Master’s Degree in Special Education, it should also be noted that Principal Swingholm also possesses an Administration Degree, a Gifted and Talented Certification, as well as a Reading Certification; further adding to her already impressive integrity as an educator.

As her mother use to put it, “No one can ever take an education away from you.” 

A firm saying that Swingholm applies to her students to this day.

With a new school year underway and big shoes to fill, Swingholm is both excited and confident that the year will be filled with building new relationships with students and staff, as well as continuing to provide a safe, wholesome environment for the small children of Torrington.

“I love the positive environment that we already have built in,” Swingholm proclaimed. “We do have the capacity for greatness. There are just so many teachers that love to teach. Everybody here loves to teach and inspire kids, so we are going to take that and catapult it forward. They’re really good at what they do, and we need to just encourage education in ourselves to inspire the kids.”

Swingholm further explained a unique belief that any success with educating small children, along with staff morale can be built with four simple components.

“I want to foster a community,” Swingholm continued. “The school itself is a hub, and we have to foster community and positive experiences. I believe in what is called the Four S’s: support, safety and smiles. With all of those, that will equal success.”

As with any new position of authority or leadership, it would be considered understandable to have new ideas along with a desire to change a few things. Swingholm has seemingly long ago adopted the old adage of, “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it,” approach to Lincoln Elementary. With a passionate and seasoned staff, Swingholm noted no sudden desire or urge to make any major decisions, or changes anytime in the near future.

According to the Lincoln Principal, the foundational system of doing things already seems to be working tremendously for the elementary school.

“I don’t know if there is a change I would like to see. I think just encouragement,” Swingholm stated. “I think it’s not so much about change when you have a system already in place, and to understand why it’s already there is important. Change happens as we grow into more understanding. It’s not a walk-in to change things, it’s a process of what’s working and what we need to look at to foster growth. I think the biggest [challenge] is just making sure I understand all of the reasoning, and be able to portray that reasoning to staff and parents in a way that’s understandable. Sometimes we have rules and procedures in place that are not always easy to understand, and just having that open communication is very important. My only limitation is just how many hours are in the day.”

With already nearly two weeks of the new school year in the books, Swingholm noted the energetic atmosphere with both faculty and students as been overwhelmingly positive, with both a promising and bright looking future ahead.

“I love the kids, and I have an easy last name to remember,” Swingholm laughed. “I joke about having swings at home. It’s really fun when they say hello to me, and just building those relationships. I really love building my relationships with the teachers. I want them to come in, feel comfortable and even vulnerable. I’m excited for the future with some longevity, and consistency. Those are all important values to have.”

When it came to some conclusive words for the families and community in regard to a new era for the school, Swingholm kindly walked amongst the students, playfully interacting with them as she spoke.

“Just come talk to me,” Swingholm said. “I’m more than happy to have conversations, especially in times of misunderstanding. We have to have an open communication, and I want to be able to understand, always. I want the community to know that. We are all just human, and we are here for the kids. That’s the bottom line. They are what’s important in building our future.”