A Petition to Save A Teachers Position and the “Rest of the Story”


The rules of immigration policy and a broken system seems to be an issue that has come to roost, in Alamogordo, when it comes to the retention or the keeping of an excellent teacher at Alamogordo High School. 

Alamogordo Public Schools has a very talented teacher, Walter Alelya (Prince Walter’s) that has won multiple awards at the local and state level for student achievement. The New Mexico Association of Career and Technical Education (NMACTE) named this Alamogordo High School teacher as its 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Walter Aleluya, is a culinary teacher and FCCLA sponsor at the school, who has taught for 5 years. He was presented with the Teacher of the Year Award at a New Mexico Association of Career and Technical Education conference in Albuquerque in April, 2024.

Aleluya, who is from the Philippines, is in the United States via a “cultural exchange program” via a J1 sponsorship. He can stay a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years while enrolled in this program according to the program guidelines.

Alamogordo Public Schools can provide foreign teachers and support staff an opportunity to work in Alamogordo either via a J1 Cultural Exchange program for a maximum of 5 years or become an HB1 sponsoring organization and provide employment with a pathway to citizenship.

APS has chosen to participate as a “cultural exchange partner” thus not offering permanent employment. The JI program is at not cost to the APS system, and allows a large number of people to participate via the temporary cultural exchange system.

This program has been good for APS in filling vacancies as APS which has a huge deficit in finding employees from within New Mexico and within the United States.

According to personnel records within APS and confirmed by APS staff, “the local system employs over 100 staff members via the J1 cultural exchange program with 20 at Alamogordo High School itself.”

Now, Alamogordo Public Schools finds itself in situation, where it has an excellent well respected teacher, but he is, “termed out” of the program due to the limits imposed by the program.

Mr. Walter Aleluya came to Alamogordo via the program for the 2019 to 2020 school year and has built a successful program since, and sadly he is at the end of his allotted 5 year term.

The APS system may want to keep Mr Aleluya, but it cannot as a participant in the J1 program under the program guidelines.

Mr. Aleluya may stay in the United States and teach under an HB1 Visa program and application, but he must have an offer of employment, for that process to kick in and that process also has a pathway to citizenship if the participant so chooses.

Alamogordo as a J1 participant is not “ready to take that step into HB1 visa offerings” per a statement from a 3rd representative of APS that spoke with us under a condition to remain anonymous, given the sensitivity and circumstances surrounding this matter.

Another anonymous representative of APS explained to us that, “Mr. Aleluya is a great teacher but we cannot jeopardize the program that provides us over 100 staff members to save this one teacher.”

Economics plays a role in the decision but not the sole role. If APS flipped to HB1 sponsorship to find staff; the expense would be on average $1500 a staff person plus attorneys fees upward to $3500 per staff member recruited via this method, verses no expense to APS via the J1 cultural exchange temporary program.

Some would argue that constant planned turnover and recruitment has a large expense verses the expense of retention. That issue is debated in Human Resources Management Departments in public company’s and government entities often. 

APS has done no cost benefit assessment of comparing the pros and cons of the two systems for foreign teacher recruitment nor retention.

Many of Mr. Aleluya’s students have won state and national awards and even more have received multiple scholarships from the Culinary Institute of America among other prestigious institutions as a result of the impact of this educator. Students from some of Alamogordo’s most influential families have benefited from Mr. Aalelya’s efforts; their sons, daughters and grandchildren among others have received scholarships as a result of his influences. 

We ran a story that highlighted some of the scholarships awarded from the teaching results of this fine teacher.

National Qualifiers

Sydney Thomas - Gold medalist in Cake Decorations, Baking and Pastry with $2000 scholarship from Culinary Institute of America

Christian Hicks - Gold medalist in Culinary Arts with $2000 scholarship from Culinary Institute of America

Rusty Davidson - Silver medalist in Culinary Arts with $1500 scholarship from Culinary Institute of America

Congratulations to the Alamogordo Students who each received awards and to the CIA Scholarship recepients. You each represent the theme of “Alamogordo Proud.” Great job APS in the dedication of Mr Prince and the school system in providing this opportunity for the young aspiring professionals.”

An Alamogordo School systems representative stated that, “APS signed a contract Mr Aleluya’s visa initial sponsorship via a 3rd party contract so that they would not have to deal with the process of J1 work visas directly. That contract term has ended and APS does not intend to engage directly in the J1 process or a work visa process directly.”

Thus the question students, fellow teachers and parents are asking is why won’t APS do the necessary paperwork shuffle to keep this talented teacher?

The answer appears to be both economics and the fear of losing a program that hosts over 100 staff members within APS

The loss of the J1 program would be a serious blow to the APS staffing plan. “We just can’t jeopardize the program that impacts 100 staff members for this one man which is a sad and difficult situation for us,” stated an employee who asked their name not be identified due to the sensitivity of this topic with school leadership.

A petition drive created by Ashland Cross asks the public to sign to encourage the APS board to step in and take action to save this teachers position…


The APS board of education and the administration is in a quandary when it comes to this educational leader in its desire in wanting to retain a good teacher and the ability to do so within the bounds of the existing J1 and HB1 programs. 

Though no board member has gone “on record with their name” nor the superintendent,  several fellow staff members and administrators have been unanimous in their belief; he is an excellent teacher and a strong asset to APS. 

But each acknowledge, given the situation, and the J1 system that is in place; there is little time and few options available to APS to keep Mr. Walter Aleluya.

The public is invited to comment and to leave comments with us and with the APS School Board members. Their email addresses are found via the link below to email your thoughts:


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