|Ezi Adesi has written the book “12 Methods” (left) to teach
adult education professionals and others how to reach and
motivate marginalized students.
Ezi Adesi Publishes 12 Methods to Make Your
ABE Students Comfortable
Inspiring Students to Learn
By Jonathan Gramling
Madison has been the land of opportunity for many talented people
over the years who have made their own contribution to the Madison
community. There have been many people from Beloit who have
sought to make a better life for themselves in Madison including
people who have become lawyers and associate deans at UW-
Madison. Shelia Stubbs, Madison’s first African American state
representative hales from Beloit. And so does Ezi Adesi.
Adesi, the director of adult basic education at the Literacy Network
grew up in a part of Beloit that lacked real opportunity for people.
When Adesi worked at Omega School a while back, he had the opportunity to work with Lang Kenneth Haynes, the poet, who also tutored students there. Haynes had
just written a book of poetry.
“I thought it was just one of those amazing things that he wrote a book. I asked him, ‘How did you do it?’ He said, ‘You write what you know.’
The thought of writing a book never left Adesi. What he knew was how to engage and motivate students. And so he wrote 12 Methods to Make Your ABE Students
Comfortable – Even Before the Learning Starts.
For many returning students, there are a lot of internal and external barriers to overcome before they even seriously think about committing to attaining their
“When I meet with a student, I’m their first point of contact,” Adesi said. “I meet with the student and my job is to not immediately get them right into a program. I
know there are some things that need to take place. And number one, they have to feel comfortable with you. They’ve been through so much. Trust is a thing. Some of
them are scared. They haven’t been in school for years. There is fear and anxiety. Then there is the component of embarrassment, not having your GED and you are in
your 30s or 40s and not being able to read or write. It takes some special attention to break those barriers down.”
One has to keep in mind that many of these students have experienced failure in educational settings and have been judged at least once as not being capable of
“For some of them, it’s a leap of faith because it has never paid off for them before,” Adesi said. “And in a lot of cases, it’s the first time that someone has even
shown them the attention that they need. It’s the first time that someone has ever listened to their story. It’s the first time that someone has actually sat down and
showed them that they cared about their education. That’s very sad. But I think that is what separates the Oscars and me from any other service provider. You can
come to a person where you can finally be heard. You can cry. I’ve seen several cases where a person comes to grips with their background and their experience
and tears start flowing. You want to be there to support that. I have a non-judgmental outlook on those things so that when they do say, ‘I’ve relaxed enough. I’m
comfortable enough now to embark on this educational journey,’ they can persist and feel supported. That’s what the book is about.”
In Adesi’s view, if an ABE professional is going to be effective, they have to know where there students are coming from and what they are facing if they are going to
reach the students and propel them along their academic journey.
“The first chapter is Know the Culture,” Adesi said. “You have to know the culture of the people whom you serve. If you don’t, you are at a loss because you won’t
know where to go from there. You don’t know what they need. I’ve spent a lot of time paying attention to lifestyle. What are the lifestyles of our students? What is their
Adesi also feels that ABE professionals need to be viewed as a part of the student’s community, that there is a connection there beyond the professional-student
stories. I grew up around them. I have people in my family who could easily fall into any program for
adult basic education. I have people in my family who only have only a third-grade education, who
have low literacy. There are people in my family who have a GED or don’t have a GED. I know
exactly what it is about.”
And it is this sensitivity and experience that makes him effective in coaxing disenfranchised people
into taking a chance and trying to better themselves through education once again.
“Some of my students often see me walking up Park Street,” Adesi
said. “I walk daily. That’s just another way for me to connect with my
students. They see me outside of the office or behind a desk. It allows
them to see me as a human being. And that is what people need.
People need people who can relate to them and then take a non-
judgmental viewpoint of their story and who they are.”
While Adesi is writing from his experience as an ABE professional, he
feels that a broad range of people could benefit from reading the book.
“The book is intended for other adult basic education administrators,
directors and managers,” Adesi said. “I heard from someone who
read the book and they were in human services. They said it was
even the blueprint for a human services professional. It could be for
someone in admissions or enrollment at the college level. Those are
also professionals who could benefit from reading the book as well.
Any tech school system could benefit from this book because we deal
with the same population. We deal with adults who are either coming
to school for the first time as a non-traditional student or a student
who has been far removed from school and are returning to school.
We're dealing with the same population. We have to break down those
Writing the book has been a rewarding experience for Adesi and he
feels that he has at least one more book in him to write. Adesi has a
wealth of experience that he can share so that others can also find
Madison to be the land of opportunity like he has. It’s never too late if
one finds the right conduit to an education. Ask Ezi Adesi. He knows.
12 Methods to Make Your ABE Students Comfortable – Even Before
the Learning Starts is published by Henschel Haus Publishing. The
cost is $12 and can be purchased online at Barnesandnoble.com,
ezikadesi.wordpress.com or https://henschelhausbooks.com/. It can
also be purchased from the author.