Students Attempt to Save Teacher of the Year, Walter Aleluya, Elected Leaders Oppose HB1 Sponsorship


A group of students that have been positively impacted by a local teacher and FCCLA sponsor, Walter Aleluya have created a petition to save the teachers position to continue to teach at Alamogordo High School and with the APS System.

As Alamogordo Town News and reported in a prior 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. Mr. Walter Aleluya is working with Alamogordo Public Schools via a “J1 Cultural Exchange Visa” and it is about to “term out,” in June.

Teachers from foreign lands may come teach in the United States via a J1 cultural exchange program at no cost to school systems or via an HB1 program, which also offers a pathway to citizenship if the applicant, so chooses, most don’t, some do, but it is at a cost to the school district or sponsoring business. In order for an HB1 to be granted the business must pay for the sponsorship and make an employment offer. The J1 program is free to the school system and APS will have over 100 employees in the new school year under that program with 20 at the High School alone according to personnel records and APS administrators

Whereas an “HB1 visa or other forms cost the school system and can cost as much as $3,500 an employee, an expense the system is not willing to pay. We are not prepared and not ready to take that step at this time,” stated an APS staff member, who asked that their name not go on the record for fear of reprisal by APS leadership. 

Sources have confirmed to us that Mr. A has been approved for a waiver from the USCIS that makes him qualified for H1B visa sponsorship, and he no longer needs to go back home to his home country, as long as the school will sponsor his visa. If APS does not the competing New Mexico school system will.

He is also now qualified for two more National Awards…

The most famous HB1 business grantee turn American Citizen of recent would be Elon Musk, immigrant from South Africa, immigrant turned Billionaire founder and majority owner of Twitter X, Space X and Tesla.  His initial student visa also expired and was violated as he did not continue his college education but went on to be a founder for PayPal etc  who sponsored an HB1 for him and thus he formed some of America’s great corporations. Someone saw his potential and took a chance on him and look at his success.

In the case, of this respected teacher locally, who was awarded teacher of the year, the APS system will not sponsor an HB1 visa, citing immigration laws as the reason. The fact is, as demonstrated by Mr. Musk an individual can be granted a stay under the HB1 process. 

J1 has a limitation of 5 years and the individual must go back to their home country. An organization or business, in this case the APS district, may participate in the various visa sponsorship schemes, “if it so chooses” according to a University level immigration specialist we spoke with.  Our immigration specialist mentioned that given this teacher was named by the state of New Mexico, as a teacher of the year the system and he might have the opportunity to apply of an 0-1 visa status to keep him here longer in addition to an HB1 without jeopardizing the J1 program.

”The O-1 temporary visa is intended for people who possess extraordinary skills in arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics, or who have a solid track record of extraordinary performance.”

Walter Alelya (Prince Walter’s)  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.

"Walter Aleluya has a passion for education. His tireless efforts have enriched students' lives and elevated the standard of teaching within the Alamogordo Public Schools," Jeff Waugh the NMACTE past-president said in a news release concerning his award as teacher of the year.

Students and concerned parents have petitioned the APS School Board to step in and take action with over 590 signatures. 

Petition organizer Ashland Cass spoke with Alamogordo Town News and issued the following statement:

First what motivated me to start this petition was my mom and the fact that Mr.Aleluya is one of the best teachers I have had throughout my years attending Alamogordo High School

We as a FCCLA chapter hope to keep our Teacher/Advisor Mr.Aleluya who has influenced us to succeed in life. Myself and many others who have helped me gain the confidence to start this petition are his students.

I will be attending the national leadership conference this summer with Mr.A (if he his called to stay) and most of my chapter who made it to the NLC to represent Alamogordo in Seattle on June 28th. 

I would like to add that I have been in the Alamogordo Public Schools district from first grade through my junior year and he has been one of the best influencers and teachers in my life

I don’t see why other districts will put in the work and ours will not

We do plan on attending the (school board meeting) if we are able to.

…I do have an opinion on the money part... the money is absurd because they have spent their money in ways that don’t help the students education such as big chairs in front of the schools, they painted the basketball court in the high school, they have big food murals behind the food lines, and lastly they painted random parts yellow inside the school and are saying the money is a lot for them. 

As a student I don’t see how these things benefit the students of Alamogordo — they seem unnecessary.”

Other students also submitted comments:

Mr.A has been one of the best teachers and advisors I have had and as I go into my senior year I wish for him to be there as well as it would not be easy without him as he has pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and compete in baking pastry and that caused me to make it to the national leadership conference. I would not be apart of the culinary program or FCCLA if I were not for him as for other students.”-Savannah Lane

As a student of Mr. Aleluya, he has taught me and helped me more than most teachers have throughout my years in High School. I think it’s important to keep good teachers because they are rare to find, having good teachers benefit the students of AHS and their attendance rate. I think it’s important to fight for our good teachers for the hope of our students.”-Anaiah cornielius

“I have been in Mr. Aleluya’s pathway courses for two years now. Mr. Aleluya is definitely the most memorable teacher i have had throughout high school. As an individual he is so passionate about supporting the students he mentors — It is impossible to not want to be in his class. I know many students that are not going to take the nutrition/prostart class next school year after hearing he won’t be at Alamogordo High school, and I believe that is a strong enough reason for him to stay. Why would we not advocate for teachers that have such a high student engagement? It would pain me to see the class pathway and fccla chapter crumble with his absence.”- Sarah Bell

Here a very articulate interview with interview with Anthony Lucero speaking with the students trying to keep Mr. A and the inspiration from this teacher to their high school and college careers…

We reached out to the Alamogordo School Board President for comment and received the following statement ignoring  the option to apply for HB1 status or some other relevant status to keep Mr Aleluya and blaming the system of laws…

Alamogordo Public Schools recognizes the amazing contributions made by the many individuals who come from abroad to teach and live in our community. We acknowledge their dedication, enthusiasm and extraordinary efforts to make APS a better place for our students. However, we also must recognize that foreign teachers arrive with visa limitations imposed by their home countries that must be honored. APS has no authority to change those limitations and must comply with legal requirements under US immigration law and the requirements imposed the home country.”  -Angela M. Cadwallader , President, Board of Education, Alamogordo Public Schools

The mayor, Susan Payne, also got into a tit for tat with our local journalist not reading the initial story, and not supporting an effort by the students, to keep this incredible teacher with APS. She also jumped on the blame game about the DC bureaucracy, rather than considering options to keep him. Despite her own granddaughter having participated in his classes and being awarded a scholarship by the Culinary Institute of America as an award for her achievements in his program. 

In the meantime, the program Mr. Aleluya is  enrolled in to allow him to teach here is soon expiring. His contract with APS ends June 1st under the J1 program, which also raises a doubt on rather he will even be able to travel to nationals the end of June with his class of winners as an employee of APS.

Another school system within New Mexico is actively recruiting Mr. Aleluya and IS willing to expend the legal resources to make a job offer and sponsor an HB1 or alternative visa on his behalf to keep him teaching in New Mexico. That systems gain, and yet another loss for APS, if APS does not act and the other systems offer is accepted by Mr Aleluya. 

If you are concerned about excellence in education, and keeping qualified teachers, such as Mr. Aleluya, make your presence seen and voice heard. 

There is a school board meeting in regular session  Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. at 1211 Hawaii Avenue, Alamogordo, NM

Go, speak in public comments and if they close public comments, bring signs and letters and hold them in support for Mr. Aleluya, and in support of the educators who are making a significant contribution and difference in developing programs that ensure students excel.

Email the school board members your feedback their email address and phone numbers are found at

The student driven petition can be signed at:

Let’s honor the dedicated hard working teachers that are making a difference to our students and let your voice be heard! 

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