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The Ionia Sentinel Standard did an amazing job reporting our August 2018 presentation to the Ionia County Board of Commissioners. Check it out here:

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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 ionialiteracy@gmail.com. You can also visit our website at www.ioniacountyliteracycouncil.org.

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.

Following are members of the Ionia County Literacy County Board of Directors:


Kim Heenan joined the Ionia County Literacy Council Board of Directors in March 2018. She is employed with West Michigan Works! as a Career Navigator in downtown Ionia.

Kim grew up in DeWitt, Michigan, and attended Lansing Community College. She has been a regular visitor to Ionia County for most of her life, spending weekends at Long Lake at her family’s cottage. Kim and her husband, Tim, moved into the family cottage in 2015, remodeling it extensively, turning it into their dream home.

Kim is a member of the Veteran’s Forum group of Ionia County and was also a volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation. She is a former board member of the Long Lake Association and organizer of the annual Regatta. Kim enjoys travel and gardening.

Johanna White is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a bachelors in English Language Arts. She is soon to have her Master's degree as a K-12 Literacy Coach from Grand Valley State University.

Johanna currently teaches fifth grade at Ionia Public Schools and is on the March is Reading Month committee for the literacy council.

She lives with her husband and has a passion for adopting animals from area rescues.

Dawn Ketchum has served on the Ionia County Literacy Council Board since December 2017. She is the Assistant Director of Member Services for Michigan One Community Credit Union in Ionia’s main office.

Dawn grew up in Belding, Michigan, and received her Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from Grand Valley State University.

Dawn and her husband, Mike, have three children and three grandchildren. She and her husband reside on Long Lake in Fenwick, Michigan.

Mattie Cook is a sixth generation Ionian and currently serves as the director of Flat River Community Library.

After graduating from Ionia High School, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from Michigan State University and a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University.

Mattie also serves on the board of First Christian Church of Ionia, and is an active member of Ionia Community Band, Ionia County Historical Society, and Ionia County Genealogical Society. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, bicycling, and spending time with her Boston terriers.

Deb Campbell joined the Ionia County Literacy Council in January, 2015.

Deb is employed with Independent Bank and has worked in various capacities there since 1972. She holds a B.A. in Management and Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University.

Deb is a member of Saints Peter and Paul Church and currently serves on the Pastoral Council.

Marilyn Peckins is a lifelong resident of Ionia County and is married with three grown children. She worked as a secretary for the State of Michigan and retired after 33 years, 27 of which were with the Department of Corrections in Ionia.

After retiring in 2011, Marilyn found fulfilling volunteer work with the Ionia County Literacy Council. She became a tutor for adults who wanted to learn to read or improve their reading skills. In 2012, she was elected to be on the Board of Directors for the Literacy Council. Since then, she has acted as the Board’s Secretary for one year and as the Vice Chairperson for two years. She is currently the treasurer.

Marilyn is a member of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ionia and volunteers there as well. In the Spring, she enjoys working in the Garden Center at the local Farm Market.

Besides reading, Marilyn enjoys hanging with friends and doing any outdoor activity, including gardening and bike riding.

Norrie Slater has served on The Ionia County Literacy Board since March of 2001.  She has held the offices of chair and interim treasurer.

She graduated from CMU and did post graduate studies and certifications at MSU and WMU.  Norrie taught for 1 year in an American Elementary School in Germany and was employed by Belding Area Schools for the next 37 years.  She served in the roles of classroom teacher, reading specialist, Title I and Instructional team, and literacy coach.

Norrie is married to Randy and lives in Belding.  Her husband is also a retired educator.  Together they have raised three children and are now enjoying seven grandkids ranging in age from 10 to 27.

As a retiree, she does volunteer work at the Belding Museum, The BEL, St. Joseph Church and the food pantry.  In March you can find her reading and performing skits in elementary schools and classrooms with her Delta Kappa Gamma Society International (Women Educators Group) retired friends.



Sue Kessler has been a volunteer for the Ionia County Literacy Council since 1999!  She started as an ESL teacher, became our office manager and was then promoted to become the executive director.  She is now the president of the board of directors.

She is employed by the State of Michigan and serves as a department secretary and paraprofessional at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.

Sue is passionate about the mission of ICLC – and is grateful to be a part of an organization that serves such an important function in Ionia County.  She appreciates the dedication of all of our amazing tutors and learners!

Sue lives in Ionia with her husband, Ted, and enjoys spending time with 4 children and 6 grandchildren!



Let's Get Everyone Reading!!

Ionia County Literacy Council celebrated National Family Literacy Day by asking area students to Turn off the TV and Read Together on November 1st.  Lakewood elementary's library was awarded $100 for turning in the highest percentage (57%) of family commitment forms! 

Way to go Lakewood Elementary!

February 2018

Live Local Realty generously donates a portion of the sale of each house  to their client's non-profit of choice.  Thank you to Beth Krausz for choosing Ionia County Literacy Council!


From our archives:



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