Ruth Gaines

Des Moines, IA | Years Taught: 1971 – Present

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, and created the extra-curriculum performing group The 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.

Additional Recognition

  • 2002 • USA Today All-USA Third Team Teacher Award
  • 2002 • Women of Influence in Central Iowa Award, Des Moines Business Records
  • 2002 • Graduate of Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute
  • 2002, 00, 90 • Who’s Who Among Teachers
  • 2002 • I’ll Make Me A World in Iowa – Heritage Legacy Award (first recipient)
  • 2001 • Commitment to Diversity Award (Conferred by University of Iowa Ed. Dept.)
  • 2001 • Selected to Board of Regents at Loras College, Dubuque, IA
  • 2000 • Teacher of the Year Award (Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Commission)
  • 1999 • Angel in Adoption Award (US Congressional Committee on adoption)
  • 1998 • Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year
  • 1998 • Iowa Teacher of the Year
  • 1998 • Minorities in Teaching Award (University of Northern Iowa)
  • 1998 • One of four finalists, The National Teacher of the Year
  • 1997 • Graduate of Leadership Iowa
  • 1993 • Rotary High School Teacher of the Year (Des Moines Rotary Club)
  • 1987 • YWCA Woman of Achievement Award
  • 1979 • George Washington Carver Award (Simpson College)