uses her skills to connect with people and empower them." –Barbara Boatwright, 2000
For 36 years, Ruth Ann Gaines has been the Des Moines
East High School drama teacher, Des Moines Area Community College
speech and drama instructor, and a facilitator of diversity courses
through the Heartland Area Education Agency. Since she and her family
members have been discriminated against because of the color of
their skin, and after adopting a child with a disability as a single
parent, she has been motivated to dedicate her adult life to fighting
for justice for all. Valued and honored with many awards over the
years, in 1998 Gaines was the first fine arts teacher to receive
the Department of Education's Iowa Teacher of the Year award.
Also in 1998, she showed what a dedicated, serious, and talented
individual she is by serving as the Iowa Ambassador for Education.
In 2001 Gaines created Sisters For Success, a Des Moines Public
School mentorship program for African American middle and high school
girls. In 2003, she was one of five educators chosen from around
the country to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
And in 2004, she was one of three Iowans to be inducted into the
Iowa African American Hall of Fame. Besides being an effective and
inspiring leader, Gaines is well known locally for her acting ability.
Born in 1947, Gaines has lived in Iowa her entire life. She was
inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2007.