People Helping People

Bill Singleton grew up in a little farmhouse “dirt poor and love rich,” as he likes to say. Born and raised in the Roseland section of Ridgeland, “everybody felt a togetherness” in his home and community. Perhaps this is what motivated him to stay in Jasper County and become Dr. William Singleton, Jr., superintendent of Jasper County School District, and a lifelong advocate for his community, a role he plays on The Beaufort Fund’s advisory committee.
Raised in Jasper County schools in the 1950’s, Bill graduated high school in 1962 and set off for Buffalo, NY because the opportunities weren’t “here” for African-American males at the time. Luckily his time away gave him the love of his life, Betty, while he served in the US Army for a couple years. However, Bill realized what he really wanted to do – continue his education – so he got his undergraduate and masters degree at SUNY Buffalo.
“I got lonesome for Jasper County,” after so many years away, Bill explained, so he came back and started working for the school district. Working in adult and community education “was the most fulfilling job I ever had”. Through his Right To Read project – which eventually won an award for best education program in the state – Bill established community and church centers to teach adults basic education and give them the opportunity to get their high school diplomas.
After Right To Read, Bill didn’t stop. It was Director of Title I and Vocational Education, Vice-Principal, Principal and, finally, a promotion to Superintendent, his last job with the school district. This entire time, Bill practiced what he preached, pursuing his Doctorate of Education at night through SC State University. A hands-on superintendent, Bill regularly consulted with the community to hear their needs and priorities and advocated tirelessly for the success of Jasper County’s children.
Bill’s work in the school district and dozens of other community affiliations led him to join The Beaufort Fund’s advisory committee in 2014, representing the interests of Jasper County in the Fund, which serves Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper County nonprofit organizations. On site visits and with the group, Bill has learned loads about the four counties served by the Fund – a true educator, he especially loves reading the hundreds of pages of proposals each year.
The impact made by The Beaufort Fund grantees is striking to Bill. “When I look across the spectrum of all the counties and towns and all of the nonprofits, mom and pops, small organizations and large organizations, people helping in the community – it’s just astronomical.”
Looking back on his childhood, Bill says things have gotten better in Jasper County. Teachers have improved, and parents are more involved – some of them Bill even taught as youth. However, he’d still like to see more well-trained, qualified teachers commit to Jasper County. Change is possible, but it takes patience and dedication on their part to make a real difference for kids. No matter what, though, one thing is for sure – Bill has both, and we’re glad to have him on board The Beaufort Fund.

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