2006 Inductee - Dora L. Contreras

2006 Inductee - Dora L. Contreras


Dora was born in Phoenix, Arizona on July 8, 1947, living most of her childhood in Scottsdale. Despite the early loss of her mother and other obstacles, she became an early reader and excelled in school. At 17, she worked with an agency providing advocacy and housing for poor Indian and Hispanic communities. After high school she received a scholarship to a community college and later earned a B.A. and teaching credential from Arizona State University.

Moving to California in 1979, she became a 5th grade teacher. She worked with Head Start and later, became Director of a migrant day care center. In 1982, she worked as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in Tracy at Center School, moving to South Elementary School where she taught 3rd grade. She was an early advocate of bilingual education.

There, she helped develop the South West Park Consolidation Program, becoming project assistant, handling special projects and helped write the school’s strategic plan. In 1993, Dora became co-Principal of the School with Carol Woo. At this time, she also received her Professional Administrative Services Credential with emphasis in bilingual education at CSUS Stanislaus.

As Principal today, she has attracted more bilingual teachers than any other elementary school in Tracy, and continues to advocate for student issues, parent’s immigration status, poverty, and unsafe home environments. According to Dora, “We need to address the whole child if we are to be effective educators.” As a result, in 2005 Dora brought to Tracy the Primary Intervention Program, a three year prevention program to assist at-risk students in the Tracy area schools. The program currently reaches over 240 students per year.

Dora also serves as Program Coordinator for the Tracy Kids Connection Program, coordinating site principals, and hiring program staff. She serves as liaison between sites and is school district and state program consultant. Moreover, she belongs and is a certified PAT instructor, providing home visitations for parents. Among others, she is a board member of San Joaquin County Head Start and the Tracy Mental Health Center.