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Honoring Mrs. Josephine Tillman Singleton

Rep. Bennie Thompson

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a remarkable civil servant and extraordinary educator, Mrs. Josephine Tillman Singleton. Her service to education and the community spans over 35 years.

Mrs. Josphine Tillman Singleton was born October 1, 1940 to Mr. Earnest and Mrs. Parthinia Salone. Under the care and love of her grandparents, Mr. Spencer Graham and Mrs. Mary Tillman. Mrs. Singleton grew up in the St. Thomas community in Hinds County, Mississippi. She received a formal education at St. Thomas Elementary and Sumner Hill High Schools. She matriculated at Utica Junior College in Utica, Mississippi and later furthered her studies at Jackson State University. For all who know her, Mrs. Singleton is a true champion for early childhood education and her professional career speaks volumes of the works and contributions she has made on behalf of preschool aged children and individuals in her community.

In 1965, Mrs. Singleton began her career in early childhood education by becoming a volunteer at St. Thomas Elementary School. In June 1966, the federally funded Headstart programs were initiated in the St. Thomas community, allowing Mrs. Singleton to become an official teacher at the school. During her years as an educator, Mrs. Singleton was well known for her motherly, nurturing spirit and her love and willingness to help others. Her exceptional work as an educator granted her the opportunity to become the first appointed Center Administrator in the Hinds County Headstart System. She continued in that position until September 2004, distinguishing her as the oldest operating Center Administrator. During her tenure, she also served as the first officiating president for the district Association of Center Administrators for Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA).

Her influence in the community not only touched the children she educated, but also the parents and numerous close-knit community organizations. Her devotion to positive outreach inspired at least 20 parents of the St. Thomas community to ultimately serve as presidents of the HCHRA Policy Council. Mrs. Singleton was an integral part of the 4-H Club, which emphasized horticulture and other subject areas. The organization participated yearly in events on a state and national scale.

In order to help parents seeking a better future for themselves and their families, Mrs. Singleton used her influence as a board member for General Education Development (GED) with the Clinton Public School district by arranging class schedules held at the St. Thomas Headstart Center. She also assisted adolescents with employment opportunities through her coordinated efforts with the Neighborhood Youth Challenge.

Mrs. Singleton was instrumentally involved in various political campaigns. Her innumerable connections within the community were a tremendous asset to those seeking public office in and around Bolton, Clinton, Edwards, and Raymond, Mississippi. Her outreach efforts are also marked by her participation in the annual Christmas Cheer drive, which is geared towards delivering food items and holiday cheer to those who are homebound and elderly. She also served as president of numerous community outreach organizations, such as the Kitchen Ministry, the Neighborhood Watch, and the St. Thomas Recreation Association.

Currently, Mrs. Singleton enjoys her days spending time with her husband, Mr. Johnny Singleton, Sr., with whom she has been married to for almost 50 years, her five children: Perry, Cathedral, Johnny, Jr., Shauna, and Shantae; and her grandchildren. She is a lifelong member of the St. Thomas Missionary Baptist Church, where she serves as Sunday school teacher.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing Mrs. Josephine Tillman Singleton for her dedication and service as a respected educator and her commendable contributions made to early childhood education and the St. Thomas community.