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February 23, 2017: The Ionia County Literacy Council is pleased to announce that Janet Balice has joined the team as its new executive director to further the vision and mission of the council. Balice comes with a wealth of experience necessary to direct the literacy council, having spent 33 years in education and having been involved with community organizations and fundraisers for a number of years. 

“The literacy council is an amazing organization that provides a vital service to our community,” Balice stated. “I’m very much looking forward to working with board members and volunteer tutors who so generously donate their time and talents.”

“We couldn’t have found a better fit,” said Sue Kessler, Ionia County Literacy Council Board Chair and former director. “Janet is very involved with community organizations like RAVE and the Ionia County Community Foundation, so she’s knowledgeable about nonprofits. She’s helps organize fundraisers, like the annual Corks and Kegs event, and chairs the Governor’s Luncheon at the Ionia Free Fair each summer. Being involved in the community and fundraising are qualities we were looking for specifically. We feel so blessed that Janet has decided to join us.”

The literacy council provides free, one-to-one tutoring in reading, writing, math, and English as a second language to adult learners throughout Ionia County. Generally there is at least one volunteer tutor in every town within the county, although many tutors are willing to travel to a neighboring town. Volunteer tutors are trained by the literacy council.

The literacy council is located in the Michigan Works! building at 301 West Main Street in Ionia. Appointments are available by calling 616-389-8529 or by email at You can also visit our website at

If you or another adult you know struggles with reading, math, or speaking English, the literacy council urges you to call. You will be glad you did.


May, 2012: Marilyn Peckins, the newest member of the Ionia County Literacy Council Board of Directors, is a lifelong resident of Ionia County, and happily married with three grown children.

Before retiring in July, 2011, Marilyn had worked for thirty-three years as a secretary with the State of Michigan, most of that time at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Ionia, and more recently in the warden’s office at the Michigan Reformatory. Since her “release” in July, Marilyn now has time to enjoy other activities, such as gardening, reading and tutoring.

“The ability to read is so important and essential in today’s world. Since I have been blessed with the ability to read and the time and patience to help others, I want to help those who struggle to read,” Marilyn said.

“My volunteer tutor experience with the Ionia County Literacy Council since September, 2011 has been both rewarding and gratifying. I look forward to working with the other members of the Literacy Council Board and the community to continue our efforts in promoting and increasing literacy,” she stated.

Please join the Ionia County Literacy Council in welcoming Marilyn Peckins aboard. Marilyn will also be helping out in the office of the literacy council.

From our archives:

Meet our tutors September 2011












Janet Baker of Muir, Carol Larsen-Roddy of Portland, Jan Nurenberg of Westphalia, Nanette Goupil of Greenville, Marilyn Peckins of Lyons, and Sandra Meitler of Portland proudly display their certificates of completion at the end of a 12-hour tutor training with the Ionia County Literacy Council. 

The Ionia County Literacy Council hosts a tutor recognition dinner in May 2010

The Ionia County Literacy Council Board of Directors and executive director honored its tutors in May with a recognition dinner. Board members brought their favorite dishes to pass around for all to enjoy. English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor Pat Wymer brought some of her students to the festivities as well.

After dinner, Ionia County Literacy Council Board Chair Norrie Slater expressed her thanks to the dedication of the literacy council tutors. Executive Director Gayle Thompson presented certificates of recognition to tutors. Joan Boog received recognition as the literacy council’s newest tutor, while Charlott Perry was recognized as the tutor who had the most students at one time. The certificate for tutoring for the most years was awarded to Rita Perry posthumously. At 92 years of age, Mrs. Perry had lost her battle with a recent, debilitating illness only one week prior to the event. Mrs. Perry’s husband, Gerard, accepted the certificate on her behalf.

Former Lebanese ESL student and current board member Doha Orban addressed the group with remarks about her experience as a student and as a board member.

Without the work of our volunteer tutors, the Ionia County Literacy Council could not complete its mission.  Many,  many thanks to their dedication.

Ionia County Literacy Council conducts tutor training - 2010

Ionia County Literacy Council Executive Director Gayle Thompson talks to five new tutors about tutoring adults at this 12-hour tutor training. The training took place over four days in February 2010. The tutor training focused on how adults learn, different learning styles, how to work with different learning styles, learning disabilities, English as a Second Language, teaching strategies, and more. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer tutor should contact the Ionia County Literacy Council at 616-527-1360, ext. 116 for information on the next training.

Ionia County Literacy Council

301 West Main Street

Ionia, MI 48846