2008 Inductee - Nisla Fonseca


2008 Inductee - Nisla Fonseca


Born in the Panama Republic of Panama, in December of 1949, Nisla was raised by her grandparents. She dreamed of becoming a teacher but spoke only Spanish. She worked hard to learn English at American based schools outside the United States. Longing to teach, she applied to Towson University, where in 1972 she graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Psychology and Social Science. After taking a Psychology class at the University of Maryland, she took a job at Charles Carroll Junior High School where she taught for 4 years. Her love for teaching about Hispanic culture led her on a memorable trip to Spain along with her students.

In 1976, she moved to Stockton, and while she found work, took classes at Delta College, Santa Clara, La Verne University, and at the University of the Pacific where she learned about California History, Mexican art, dance and music, and Chicano Literature and History, and psychology. Soon, she began substituting at Senior Elementary and was also an interim summer school vice principal for Migrant Education at Victory School in Stockton. In time, she received a Life and Bilingual Credential from the University of the Pacific, and an Administrative Credential from Sacramento State University.

Over the 32 years of teaching ESL and Spanish at Tracy High, she developed a career class for Hispanic students, helping them write resumes and how to conduct job searches. In connection with the Stockton’s Longshoremen Union, the library, and Delta College, she was able to start a literacy and ESL program for adults. In 1977, she began the Danzantes Del Sol, who performed at city and county events, receiving many trophies and awards. She personally contributed as much as $3,000 dollars yearly to help needy students belong to the troupe.

Dancing helped the students find cultural pride and build self esteem. Nisla is an advisor for Latinos Unidos and has been a lifelong advocate for students, helping with the Concilio’s annual Latino graduation ceremony, fundraising for scholarships, and helping create parade and homecoming floats, organize receptions for graduations, and directing student drama and dance groups.