Clay Jones: Cultivating Success at Pampa High School


In the halls of Pampa High School, Principal Clay Jones walks with a sense of purpose and pride. A Pampa native and a graduate of the very institution he now leads, Jones’s journey is a full-circle moment that speaks volumes about his dedication to education and community.

“This is my fourth year being back here in Pampa,” Jones shares, reflecting on his return to his roots. His post-high school years took him from Oklahoma State to Texas Tech, where he completed his general business degree, followed by a master’s from Lubbock Christian University. But it was the call of home that brought him back to Pampa in the summer of 2019, just before the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jones’s entry into education was driven by a passion for coaching, a field where he spent a decade honing his skills and mentoring young minds. “I got into education because I wanted to coach, that’s really what my background has always been in and I’ve always really enjoyed it,” he explains. His coaching career took him from Monterey to Plainview, but Pampa High School beckoned him back, not as a coach but as an educator. “When I first came back here, I taught AP World History and I coached football and track for a year,” he recalls. It was after this year that he transitioned into administration, first as an assistant principal and then, stepping into the role of principal two years ago.

Since taking the helm, Jones has witnessed and instigated significant changes in the educational landscape. “A lot of horrible things came out of COVID—the loss of learning, mental health issues, the strain on our systems as a whole,” he admits. Yet, he also sees the silver lining: “A lot of good things came out of COVID too, because it really made us take a step back and look at our systems. It really forced education to speed up about 10 years.”

Under Jones’s leadership, Pampa High School has re-focused on its students, offering a triad of educational pathways: college-bound routes, career technology classes, and industry-based certifications. “We have our college-bound routes, we’ve partnered with Clarendon College. We have a lot of AP classes and we offer several dual credit classes,” Jones says, proudly noting that nine students from this year’s graduating class will also receive an associate’s degree from Clarendon College.

The school’s Career Technology program is a particular point of pride for Jones. “Last year, for example, our welding program had 62 kids who took the ASE Certification Test and 61 of them passed,” he recounts. The success of these programs is not just in certifications but in real-world opportunities, like the partnership with Tower Systems, which reached out to hire students directly from the program.

Jones’s vision for Pampa High School is one that aligns with the needs of the community, preparing students not just for college but for immediate entry into the workforce. “We are turning out people that are work ready,” he states. The school’s partnerships with local businesses, including internships and hands-on experience, are a testament to this commitment.

Looking ahead, Jones is excited about the construction of a new building for the Career Technology program and the potential to expand offerings to meet the evolving needs of the community. “As we look to expand and add new things in our Career Technology program, one of the things we’ve really got to do a good job of is finding out what our community needs,” he says.

For Jones, being the principal of Pampa High School is more than a job; it’s a mission. “I like being the principal here, it’s unique. Every day is a new day,” he says with a smile. His love for his job shines through as he talks about the successes of his students and the support of the community. “I wish people knew just how awesome the people are that we have here. I wish people understood how really good of kids we have here.”

Clay Jones’s story is not just about returning to his alma mater; it’s about leading it into a future where every student can thrive. His commitment to education, community, and the success of every student makes him not just a principal but a pillar of the Pampa community.