Kermit woman blazing a trailThe future is bright for OC’s Mustang winner

Jennifer Guffie is nothing if not determined.
The Kermit resident will graduate from Odessa College next week with an associate degree in early education and also is working toward a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas Permian Basin in multidisciplinary studies.
A single mother of two daughters, Guffie is currently a paraprofessional for Kermit ISD working with 3- to 6- year-old special education students. She is part of the district’s Grow Your Own teacher program.
Anyone who works for KISD in maintenance, as a paraprofessional, or custodian, for example, can take up to seven years to get their degree.
In exchange, the graduates would work for KISD for three years as a teacher.
Because she is legally blind, Guffie takes all of her classes from OC and UTPB online. She lives within a short distance of the schools and other things she needs.
Recently, she won OC’s Drive to Success Finale and took home a 2019 Ford Mustang.
Commencement is at 7 p.m. May 10 and 10 a.m. May 11 at the Ector County Coliseum. Guffie is graduating Saturday.
“I’m excited,” Guffie said. “I can’t believe the day finally is here.”
KISD Superintendent Denise Shetter said everyone in Kermit thinks it’s great that Guffie is graduating, and in about a year, she’ll be a teacher.
“We think it’s awesome that she’s graduating and that we were able to be a part of that to help her get that degree,” Shetter said.
Guffie said if she can do this, anyone can.
But Shetter noted that Guffie is a very dedicated student who also is very dedicated to her students.
“She has a passion and most great teachers have a passion for education and students,” Shetter said.
She will be taking some classes at UTPB on campus this summer and will have her daughter or someone else drive her.
Originally from Castle Rock, Washington, Guffie moved to Idaho where she met her husband. They lived there for quite a while. Her husband got started in the oil business in Vernal, Utah, but didn’t like traveling back and forth.
His family lived in Kermit, so they moved there.
They are now divorced. Their daughters are 21 and 22. The youngest is autistic.
“I am so thankful for the Grow Your Own program, that the school board and the Kermit School District implemented it. I don’t think I would have ever gone back to school if it wasn’t offered. Then I would have never had this opportunity. I can’t thank the school enough and Odessa College for the car,” Guffie said.
The Grow Your Own program started right around when she and her husband separated.
“I thought would be a good opportunity to be able to take care of myself and my daughter better. Then, I did well my first semester and I surprised myself and just kept going. The further I went along, the more classes I took, and the more classes I took, the better I did and I just kept on,” Guffie said.
She added that she carries a 4.0 GPA on both campuses.
Taking the classes is a lot easier for Guffie because she can’t get to Odessa by herself and she works full time.
“I”m interested to see what it’s like to be inside of a classroom, which I’ll have to go to UTPB this summer,” Guffie said.
Once she completes her bachelor’s degree, Guffie plans to earn a master’s in special education.
“My goal and hope for that is to finish that the following May. I would like to get that done quickly, as well.
My long-term goal is I would like to work in the public school setting, but I’d like to be an adjunct professor online for a community college to help supplement,” Guffie said.
Guffie has always been interested in education.
After high school, she went to college to become a teacher, but quit.
“Then I worked with children with disabilities, mostly in Idaho. Then I started working as a paraprofessional in schools. It’s all I’ve ever done. I also coach Special Olympics. We have a little team in Kermit,” she said.
She plans to have her oldest daughter drive her to town for classes at UTPB this summer. And now that she has the Mustang, it’s easier.
“I have a lot of people volunteering to drive me anywhere I want to go right now. … Everybody wants to drive it,” Guffie said.
In Drive to Success, finalists learn if they won the car by whether the key fob works.
“At first I didn’t know. I thought it was the other guy. I could have sworn it was his car going off because it wasn’t very loud. …,” Guffie said.
Then she found out she was the winner.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” she said.