Ruth Gaines

East High School
Des Moines, Iowa
Total years as a classroom teacher: 32

“As a teacher I try to impact the total student, so that they
perceive that real education is about life and how to live it.” – Ruth
Ann Gaines

Ruth Ann created Sisters For Success, a mentorship program for
African American high school girls with the purpose of building
self-esteem and foster academic success.

She also created the Leadership Council that leads the school and community in solving problems of diversity.

Ruth Ann implemented a class in Children’s Theater where each spring
her students perform a popular children’s play for surrounding
pre-school and elementary school students.

Ruth Ann created the extra-curriculum performing groupThe Voices of
Change as a result of racial riots in her school in 1995. The students
travel throughout the Midwest improvising scenes about cultural
diversity and teen issues. This group has received numerous awards
including President Clinton’s 1997 Community Involvement Award and the
1997 Race Equity Award presented by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

“She has worked with students both in and outside the classroom to
foster better human relations through the drama group she heads which
performs all over the central Iowa area, showing high school students
through skits and speeches how to better get along with each other.” —
Linda Lane, Chief Operating Officer of Des Moines Public Schools

“Occasionally, in one’s career, a person comes along who is truly
outstanding in their ability to work with all students in a creative and
stimulating environment and who demonstrates the ability to impact the
culture of the community. Ruth Ann Gaines is such a person.” –Jerry D.
Stilwell, Former Principal

“Ms. Gaines doesn’t put herself first, she puts the needs of her
students first. She takes teaching beyond the classroom.” –Elizabeth
Briley, Student



M.A. + 30


M.A. Dramatic Arts


B.A. Drama and Speech

Teaching Experience

1971- present

9-12th Grade, East High School, Des Mones, IA

Special Recognition


USA Today All-USA Third Team Teacher Award


Women of Influence in Central Iowa Award, Des Moines Business Records


Graduate of Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute

2002, 00, 90

Who’s Who Among Teachers


I’ll Make Me A World in Iowa – Heritage Legacy Award (first recipient)


Commitment to Diversity Award (Conferred by University of Iowa Ed. Dept.)


Selected to Board of Regents at Loras College, Dubuque, IA


Teacher of the Year Award (Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Commission)


Angel in Adoption Award (US Congressional Committee on adoption)


Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year


Iowa Teacher of the Year


Minorities in Teaching Award (University of Northern Iowa)


One of four finalists, The National Teacher of the Year


Graduate of Leadership Iowa


Rotary High School Teacher of the Year (Des Moines Rotary Club)


YWCA Woman of Achievement Award


George Washington Carver Award (Simpson College)