by Amy Haggerty
John Twining has worked as a school social worker for Stockbridge Community Schools for 12 years. You will find him in the front lobby at the junior/senior high school. He’s hard to miss—a tall man towering over everyone, conversing and reassuring students with positive gestures and comments. Twining takes his job seriously and enjoys helping students and staff figure out how to solve issues, but what he does best is bring out the smiles on students’ faces.
Several years ago Twining started up the LINKS (Linking Assessment and Instruction for Independence) program at the high school, which has become very successful through the years. LINKS was developed to change attitudes toward students with disabilities. The program focuses on pairing special needs students with general education students, and having the pairs attend class together. The desired outcome is to increase the likelihood that the special needs students will have successful experiences in their general education classes.
Twining believes, “This program has made a significant impact on the school, and I feel very thankful for it.”
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Twining attended Huron High School. He then moved on to Hope College, where he received a bachelor’s degree, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a master’s in social work. Before coming to Stockbridge, Twining had several jobs, including working as a child and family therapist and also as a social worker with Jackson Public Schools.
In 1993, Twining married his wife, Suzanne, who grew up in the Stockbridge area. The couple has four children. Andrew (24) is an electrical engineer; Audrey (23) is studying to be a physical therapist; Alec (21) is studying electrical engineering at Calvin College; and Adam (18) is graduating this spring from Stockbridge High School. Twining shares that his family and the time spent raising his children are his greatest accomplishments in life. He attributes his wife with having the greatest influence on his life.
“My wife has been so important to me and has helped keep me more positive. She has made me a more successful person. Suzanne is my best encourager.”
Choosing to work in Stockbridge was an easy choice for Twining.
“I enjoy working in the community I live in,” said Twining, adding, “I think we have some amazing staff who are very skilled and caring with students. We also have some great parents in our community, who I appreciate working with.”
According to Jeff Trapp, Stockbridge High School principal, “We are fortunate to have John Twining on staff, as he is great at what he does. He truly puts our students first, and he is remarkable at making connections and giving our students the support they need.”
Through the years, Twining has focused on helping students live their best lives. “As I help students evaluate how to live their lives, I try to show them, direct them, and guide them on what they might become.” He also advises Stockbridge students to stay positive. “Do not let discouragement take hold of your thinking, but continue to encourage yourself on to success. Positive thoughts and right-thinking lead to success!”