Ruth Ann Gaines


Ruth Ann Gaines

"She 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.