Two Borderland teachers die from COVID-19


Las Cruces teacher is district's 5th coronavirus-related death

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Las Cruces Public Schools and the El Paso Independent School District are each mourning the loss of beloved educators who died from COVID-19 over the weekend.

Alfredo “Freddy” Valles, third from left, died after a short battle with COVID-19. He taught at Guillen Middle School for 39 years and was the band director at Bowie High School. (Courtesy photo)

Guillen Middle School band director Alfredo “Freddy” Valles, 60, died Sunday after a short battle with the virus. His family tells KTSM 9 News that he had no underlying medical conditions. Valles taught at Guillen for 39 years and also served as assistant band director at Bowie High School.

“Thank you for never giving up on us kids from Segundo. When many teachers would jump ship, you stayed and you inspired. You are the definition of a true educator and mentor. We will always love and miss you, Mr. Valles,” student Mario Macias wrote on Facebook.

“He cared immensely for the youth of Segundo Barrio and went above and beyond to not only teach them how to read music, or play an instrument, but perhaps more importantly, he taught them confidence, discipline, and core values. And he did all this through the power of music,” his family wrote in a written obituary released to KTSM.

Valles also played in several bands over the years, including  Lazy (the first band he joined at around 14 years of age), Everyday People, Sabor, Maya, The Freddy Valles Quintet, Caranda Big Band, The Temptations, Pueblo, The Eclectic Jazz Band, Jazz Unlimited Orchestra and most recently The Starliners.

He was a proud 1978 graduate of Jefferson High School and earned his music degree from West Texas State University in 1982.

Valles is survived by his wife Elvira, and children Katherine, Alfred Anthony and Nicholas. He is also survived by his six siblings and many nieces, nephews and his three grandchildren.

In honor of Valles’ life, Proper Print Shop designed special shirts, stickers, hats and buttons. All proceeds will go toward the Guillen Middle School Band. You can order your items by CLICKING HERE.

Elizabeth Placencio taught film and broadcast media at Mesa Middle School in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces Public Schools announced the death of 42-year-old media teacher Elizabeth Placencio on Tuesday.

According to the district, Placencio died Monday night after being hospitalized with COVID-19 for nearly a month. She taught film and broadcast media at Mesa Middle School since it opened its doors in 2010.

Prior to teaching at Mesa Middle, Placencio taught at LCPS’ White Sands Elementary. In all, she dedicated more than two decades of her life to teaching children in Las Cruces.

“Liz was part of my core team that helped open the doors at Mesa,” recalled Gabe Jacquez, deputy superintendent of operations at LCPS, who served as the principal at Mesa between 2010 and 2016. “She had an amazing impact on our students and the programs at Mesa and built the media program from scratch at our school. She will be missed in the hearts of many.” 

Placencio is the fifth educator in the LCPS district lost to COVID-19. She is survived by her husband and a daughter.

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