State forensic group director in La Crosse named national outstanding educator

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Adam Jacobi, executive director of the La Crosse-based Wisconsin High School Forensic Association, has been named the Outstanding Speech, Debate and Theatre Educator by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Adam Jacobi


The NFHS selects one honoree a year from among hundreds of thousands of coach-educator-administrators in speech, debate and/or theater.

“I am humbled to be honored,” said Jacobi, who has been has been WHSFA’s executive director since 2014, coordinating interscholastic middle and high school contests and resources for speech, debate and theater.

The WHSFA added a film festival contest this year.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacobi pivoted all programming to virtual options and consulted with several other states doing the same. From 2018 to 2022, Jacobi served on the NFHS Speech, Debate, and Theatre Advisory Committee, representing Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.

Designed to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to high school sports and
interscholastic academics, the NFHS Citation is regarded as one of the highest achievements in high school activities.

Jacobi began his teaching career at his alma mater, Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, where he taught theater and communication as well as coached several speech and debate state and national champions. He later taught and coached for Ripon College, as well as in Changzhou, China.

Jacobi has authored and contributed to several books and guides for speech and debate and has led several professional development workshops in speech, debate and theater.

Growing up in Milwaukee Public Schools, Jacobi performed in plays and worked backstage in elementary school. In middle and high school, he gave public address announcements and competed in speech.

“Despite being bullied, these activities were a safe haven for me, where I could build my confidence,” Jacobi said. “I’ve dedicated my career to bringing that to more youth.”

Jacobi, who will receive his citation June 30 at the annual NFHS Summer Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, is married to J. Scott Baker, who was declared the NFHS Outstanding Speech, Debate and Theatre Educator in 2017. Baker, who earned the award for teaching and coaching in Texas, now is a teacher educator at the university level who taught in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse from 2015-2021.

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