Iowa native never gave up on valley kids

She came to Las Vegas from Iowa as a joke with one of her sorority sisters, but Aldeane Ries fell in love with the place and never left. She would spend the next 38 years working with kids in the Clark County School District.

Ries Elementary School, 9805 S. Lindell Road, opened in 2005 and is named for the Iowa native. She was born in 1940 in Webster City, Iowa, and grew up in Des Moines.

Her dad was a teacher and coach, and her mom mostly stayed at home but sometimes taught music at local elementary schools. Ries studied education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

“Once I got into college, (education) just seemed like a natural thing,” she said.

Upon graduation, she had broken up with her boyfriend and “decided I needed to spread my wings, and so I came out here,” Ries said.

She began her long career as a teacher at Manch Elementary School in 1962. She would teach at Fyfe Elementary School and Garside Middle School before becoming dean of students at Garside and Knudson middle schools. In 1970, she became a dean at Valley High School and then at Chaparral High School until 1979. She was an admissions counselor for then-Vocational Tech Center (current-day Southeast Career and Technical Academy) before returning to Chaparral as assistant principal. In 1990, she took the job as principal at Valley and was selected in 1993 to open Silverado High School, where she remained until 2000, when she retired.

Ries said she noticed a lot of changes in education during her tenure, and “they aren’t all for the better, either.”

She said morale at schools is “not great” nowadays.

“They have teachers giving so many tests that they don’t have time to teach,” she said. “… I wish teachers had more time to teach and fewer students in the classroom. Until more money goes into education they’re stuck.”

Even in retirement, Ries mentored new principals and served as a substitute principal at several schools when one was needed. She has not done so this school year but said she probably will do more of that next school year.

“I feel if I can give back at all that’s something I need to do because I’ve received so much, and I just need to give back,” Ries said.

She said her favorite position was as dean of students “because (she) could work with all the kids who were having problems.”

One of Ries’ oldest friends, Cindi Davis, met her when she was beginning her career as a student-teacher at Chaparral in 1984. Davis said Ries always was focused on students first.

“She’s so passionate and so loyal to doing right for kids,” Davis said. “That’s always been her focus: what’s best for kids.”

Ries enjoys playing golf and traveling. She has been all over the world, recently taking a trip through the Panama Canal. She plans to spend June on a beach in San Diego.

Ries said that being a namesake of a school is “the most humbling experience of (her) entire life.”

“I say when they’re naming schools after me they must have been running out of names,” she said.

Ries visits the school three or four times per month to read to students or attend special events. A student once asked Ries if her parents named her after the school.

Ries’ unusual first name can be credited to three people. Her dad’s name was Al, and her uncle’s was Deane. Her mom put them together to name her daughter.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 702-224-5524.

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