Pampa Learning Center: Home Away From Home


As a previous student of Pampa Learning Center, it is a privilege for me to write about this hidden gem that was there for me when I absolutely needed them.

Carrie Williams was my English teacher when I was a student at PLC back in 2005 and the fact that she is the director is no suprise to me because the love and compassion she showed each and every one of us was unconditional and her cheerful disposition was contagious: and still is.

Williams’s teaching career goes far beyond her service to the students of Pampa with a total of 26 years in education, starting in Mississippi at a behavioral alternative school, and from there she would move to Pampa and teach 8th grade English for three years.

When Pampa Learning Center began its operation, Williams knew that’s where she wanted to be and waited anxiously for an opening.

She would teach English at PLC for ten years and then become the director, going on six years.

“What our mission in Pampa is, is to help kids that are struggling in a regular environment for whatever reason and are in a situation where they can do our program that is self-paced-we’re an option for them.”

The misconception of the Pampa Learning Center being a school for the “pregnant teens” or the “bad kids” is far from the truth: it acts as a safe haven for teenagers (who have enough to deal with on their journey to find themselves with the pressures of impending adulthood) to be able to get an excellent education from teachers and instructors who teach them more than just academics.

In fact, Pampa Learning Center will be featured as a showcase school at the annual Texas Association of Alternative Education state conference in Austin for July of this year, an honor that is well deserved.

Knowing that high school isn’t every teen’s cup of tea, PLC offers a different approach from the hustle and bustle of its counterpart and views itself not only from an academic standpoint, but almost from a therapeutic one as well.

From the calm and laid-back environment to the self-paced and reasonable curriculum, the decision to get up and go to school in the morning is made much easier, and sometimes, PLC acts as an escape for those whose home life is far from perfect.

Carrie Williams and every instructor and staff member of Pampa Learning Center takes into consideration the circumstances with which every kid brings as they walk through the doors.

“We serve a lot of different purposes, but almost every one of these kids has their own story and no story is more important than another,” Williams said.  

“Some kids have issues outside of school that are pressing, but we do preach to them that there’s no one here that has more of a right to be here than anybody else. Mr. Steele said that for many years and we still live that. Everybody has their own reason.”

“Many times students come in and they have to get past whatever is going on with them before they can even get to the academics. The academics are necessary, but that’s not the primary thing we have. We have to figure out a way to get there-to serve that kid to be able to get there.”

Pampa Learning Center has had a number of different locations, but have moved to the third floor of the high school in recent years.

While some may believe that moving inside of the high school defeats the purpose of quiet isolation, the location is actually perfect and PLC still maintains its own operation: only difference now is the unwavering support from their comrades just below is more prominent and present with Williams working closely with Pampa High School Principal Clay Jones. 

Because PLC usually only has about 30-35 students throughout the year attending either morning or afternoon classes, it’s easier for the students and teachers to build those long-lasting relationships that result in former students to look fondly back at their time in PLC, such as my case nearly 20 years later.

To be able to grow older and reminisce about that period in my life-where I was unsure of what I was going to do about my future until I walked through the doors of the old Horace Mann Elementary School and enrolled in Pampa Learning Center-and to now be able to sit and talk with previous instructors like they are family speaks volumes.

And according to Carrie Williams, that’s exactly what PLC strives for.  

“That’s the magic of PLC. We call this our PLC family up here and it’s not just me and the teachers, it’s all of us. We’re all family because we want the same thing for these kids-to be able to do whatever they want to do in the future.”

For more information about the Pampa Learning Center or how to enroll, call 806-669-4750.