Hal Adams

Hal Adams' humility belies his accomplishments as a teacher and coach of one of the state's most successful high school debate teams.

In the past five years, "we've been to state championships three times and runner-up twice in debate," Grand County High principal Stephen Hren said. "We go to invitation-only tournaments. We have gone to Harvard, Stanford, Arizona State."

Of the 480 students at the Moab high school, about 125 are involved in debate, Hren said.

But if Adams were one to brag — and he is not — he is most proud of his debate team's inclusiveness: The team is a home to students who often don't have other places to fit in. He even includes special education students. When he chooses students for the elite tournaments, he chooses successful as well as less-successful students.

"I'd rather it be known as a place that includes people than wins," said Adams.

Adams has a speech impediment. When he was in high school, a debate coach reached out to him, and he applies the same philosophy at Grand.

Adams has taught for 17 years. He began his career on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and has taught students of every age "but kindergarten and second grade," he said.

He hails from a family of educators — siblings, aunts and his father.

Adams teaches U.S. history, drivers' ed and debate.

"There's no greater happiness than being able to lift other people," Adams said. "To be able to serve and lift other people. I remember my dad telling me a long time ago (about) the joy of seeing one of your students succeeding."