2017-12-09 / News

Novi Classroom Reflects Interest in Mackinac Island

Danielle Courtemanche, a kindergarten teacher in the Novi Community School District, has decorated her classroom with all things Mackinac Island because she was married at Mission Point in 2016, visits the Island frequently, and describes it as “my happy place.”

There are copies of logos used by Island businesses such as the Pink Pony Lounge, where her wedding rehearsal dinner was held, and the Butterfly House. There are themed cutouts and pictures she created representing the Island and its surroundings: horses, bicycles, Adirondack chairs, lighthouses, and Straits of Mackinac waters. A large photograph of Arch Rock decorates part of one wall.

She has decorated her classroom door with a photograph of the painted wooden sign that is in front of the Mackinac Island Public School. A copy of The Mackinac Island Town Crier is displayed on her classroom’s writing center table.

“Our school had an addition this year and I was one of the lucky teachers to get a brand-new classroom,” Mrs. Courtemanche told The Town Crier. “I decided, why not make this room reflect my happy place in the world?”

Some background: she and her husband, Jusin, were married August 27, 2016, at the Mission Point Resort gazebo. It rained before and after the ceremony, so many of their photos were taken under shelter of the Grand Hotel porch, although she has one of the couple at the gazebo and another of them in a carriage.

They met while students at Northern Arizona University. She taught fifth grade in an Arizona school for three years before the move to Michigan. Justin is events coordinator in the recreation department of Troy, where they live.

Mrs. Courtemanche was born in Michigan but grew up in Arizona. Most of her relatives still live in Michigan. She returned to Michigan in 2014 for graduate studies toward a PhD degree and landed her Novi teaching job.

“Since then, I travel to the Island multiple times a year,” she said. “It is my happy place. My husband, who also lived the majority of his life in Arizona, fell in love with Mackinac Island.”

His out-of-state parents enjoyed their Island wedding day stay so much, she said, they returned for a week-long Island family visit.

The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau couldn’t ask for a better ambassador.

“Many of my students from last year had never been to the Island,” she said. “They fell in love after they watched a short portion of my wedding ceremony (video) during snack time. They thought I was Cinderella. My girls loved the horses. Many families came in during the Meet-the-Teacher Night in awe of the scenery. I hope this encourages them to come to the Island.”

She has a larger, equally ethnically diverse class this year and a bigger classroom, so she decided its decorative theme should be Mackinac Island.

“Literally, in every area of the room, I have something from Mackinac Island,” she said.

That gets a lot of attention from this year’s parents and students from other counties, who also are learning of the Island for the first time. Some now have visited and one family bought her a souvenir Pink Pony mug in appreciation for introducing them to the Island.

Her Mackinac Island theme is destined to grow. A music teacher colleague with artistic skills is painting a porch rocking chair, she said, “for my Grand Hotel display.”

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