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Family Story
Perseverance Pays Off: Family members help mother, daughter attain GED certificates
Abilene Reporter News [Newspaper]
01 June 2001

[editorial comment]
[Posted at Abilene Reporter News @]

Friday, June 1, 2001

Perseverance Pays Off

Family members help mother, daughter attain GED certificates
By Larry Zelisko
Reporter-News Staff Writer

A mother and daughter are receiving their GED certificates this evening because of one another’s support — and that of their entire families.

Ozaine Kendrick Coffman, 56, and her daughter, Paula Van Pelt, 34, are among the 431 people who earned their General Educational Development certificates through the Big Country Adult Education Cooperative this year. They and about 115 others will participate in a graduation and recognition ceremony at 7 tonight at the Cooper High School auditorium.

Throughout the classes leading up to tonight’s commencement, Coffman and Van Pelt, both of whom live in Novice in Coleman County, gave each other moral support, study assistance and help at home.

In fact, help came from everyone from Van Pelt’s young daughters to Coffman’s 91-year-old new father-in-law.

“If it hadn’t been for mom pushing me, I wouldn’t have been able to earn this,” Van Pelt said. “Life is busy with kids and you feel you don’t have the time to do anything more, but she encouraged me to keep going.”

Coffman added, “The most important things in life are worth the extra effort. If you have to work hard to accomplish something, it means more to you and the rewards are worth it.”

Coffman decided to earn her GED following the death of her first husband, Fred Kendrick, in July [2000]. She quit school in Ballinger at age 14 to get married. Becoming a widow after 41 years made her realize she would need the high school equivalency certification to get the job she wanted.

Over the years, she worked as a nurse’s aide, Novice school’s lunchroom manager and with her husband in his air conditioning business. She considered returning to school to become a licensed vocational nurse and to do that she needed her GED.

She has since reconsidered and is learning to drive a truck to be with her new husband, Bob Coffman. The two were married May 5 [2001]. He insisted that she get her GED before he would take her on the road with him.

Van Pelt dropped out of school in the ninth grade at Novice in 1982 because she simply didn’t like it, she said.

She decided to earn her GED, she said, because she realized something could happen to her husband of 19 years and she would be left on her own to support their two daughters.

Coffman and Van Pelt enrolled in the adult education cooperative, sponsored by the Abilene Independent School District, in January. Each attended classes two or three days a week.

When Coffman needed help with algebra, she called on her 91-year-old father-in-law, David Coffman, a retired Church of Christ minister and schoolteacher. He borrowed books from the Novice school, boned up on the subject and helped her.

“I wouldn’t have passed math without his help,” she said.

Van Pelt’s daughters, 16-year-old Melanie and 12-year-old Chelsey, helped her, particularly in writing essays.

Coffman and Van Pelt “were really good students from what the teachers tell me,” said Marilyn Flournoy, director of the adult education cooperative. “They came together, worked together and supported each other.”

Contact story editor Larry Zelisko at 676-6764 or

Linked toCHITWOOD KENDRICK COFFMAN Kelley Ozaine; COFFMAN Robert W. "Bob"; KENDRICK Wallace Fred "Fred"; VANPELT Chelsey; VANPELT Melanie

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