Finding home: The Jeromes' journey back to Mt. Pleasant

When people hear that we moved from Traverse City to Mt. Pleasant, the average response is a confused expression followed by the question: “Why?” My answer is simple. We like it here. 

While yes, we moved back to the area for a job – there were offers coming in from other regions. And yes, is one of the reasons why we chose Mt. Pleasant because we have family here? Of course. But we have family Up North, too, as well as other parts of the state. And now that remote work has become a reality for many, including us, we can choose to live anywhere we want. 

We choose to live here. Let me tell you why.

But first I should introduce myself and our family of four. My husband, Josh, and I are in our mid-30s. When I first moved to Mt. Pleasant after undergrad for a television producer job at WCMU Public Media, Josh was the one who showed me around town. As they say, the rest is history! 

Next month will be our 10-year wedding anniversary – we plan on celebrating all the amazing things we’ve accomplished in our relationship so far, including raising two big-hearted, energy-filled, elementary-aged sons. 

Jerome and her family enjoy boating on local waterways and lakes.Speaking of those boys, they were both born in Traverse City (Josh’s job brought us North and we were able to live down the road from my family after spending seven years together in Mt. Pleasant). After several years there as a young family, we were facing the inevitable question we all reach in our careers of “What’s next?” Quite honestly, we almost moved out of state.

We pushed our two kids (both under two years old) around our neighborhood in a double stroller for countless nights trying to determine what the best next steps were for our family. Those chats ultimately brought us back to Mt. Pleasant. 

The Schools
The schools were one of the important things that influenced our decision to move back. Keep in mind, our kids were young when we first moved back – both still in diapers. But we recalled an incredible early childhood education program at Central Michigan University, the Child Development Learning Lab (CDLL), with one of the most impressive two-year preschool programs we’ve ever heard of. 

I used to joke with my husband that I’d literally cry if our application didn’t get accepted. (And when we were first waitlisted for this highly sought-after program, I did!) But I’m so grateful that both our boys have benefited from their strong curriculum. I can’t thank the CDLL team enough.

Then Mt. Pleasant Public Schools’ Balanced Calendar option for K-5 was another program that excited us. The school year is spread out longer than a traditional calendar, with additional week-long breaks throughout the school year. Not only does that mean less educational retention loss over the summer, but more quality time for our family throughout the year for vacations and trips (without the Spring Break price tag!). 

If we wanted to keep the kids in school on those weeks “off” throughout the year, they offered enrichment programs at school throughout the week for only $10 a day, solving any child care issues. We had such an incredible experience with this program and are very sad to see it go for the 2022-23 school year. 

Recreation Opportunities
The parks. The programs. The abundance of water and nature. There’s so much to love about the recreational opportunities here in Mt. Pleasant. 

Our whole family has participated in Mt. Pleasant Parks & Rec athletics – from slow-pitch softball and kickball for Josh and I, to tee-ball, basketball, and soccer for the boys – they provide a ton of well-organized options for the community. We also have a handful of beautiful golf courses in the middle of the Mitten, where Josh has joined leagues, and we’ve hit 9 on a date day. 

The Jerome family enjoys time in Mt. Pleasant's many parks.And the parks and preserves! According to the Mt. Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are over 1,000 acres of parkland and 18 preserves in Isabella County (we might have a bucket list going to check them all out!). We even have a Chippewa Watershed Conservancy preserve in our neighborhood on the Chippewa River – how cool is that?!

As avid boaters, we love that we can not only kayak and canoe on the over 90-mile-long Chippewa River, we can also splash our boat in many of the area’s nearby lakes. In the summer months, you’ll find us having weeknight picnic dinners in our Four Winns and floating into the golden evening sunlight, less than a half-hour drive from our home’s front door.

Its Central Location
Another thing we love about Mt. Pleasant is the central location in the state. We have easy access to other Michigan communities if we want to explore. For example, Midland is a half-hour drive away and a great place to check out for the arts, eats, and minor league baseball games. 

Plus, from Mt. Pleasant, the perfect Pure Michigan weekend getaway is only two hours away. We can visit friends and family in Metro Detroit for dinner after work if we want. Or head up to Mackinac for the weekend and not get trapped in a traffic parade for hours and hours.  

Small-Town Community Support
As a small business owner myself (visit courtneyjeromemedia.com if you’re curious), I’ve witnessed firsthand the strong business-supporting culture that’s here. Organizations such as the Small Business Development Center, Middle Michigan Development Corporation, and CMURC go out of their way to make sure we have everything we need to thrive. 

And the community supports local as well! You’ll find people opting to shop small, dine in the non-chain restaurants, and attend fundraising events that support the community and its positive growth forward. From nonprofits, to small businesses, to local organizations, everyone collaborates and comes together to do amazing things – in a way only a small town can.

Over the years, we’ve found ourselves connecting to the community here in ways that are hard to explain. We’ve made great friends. Found support from family and organizations. Enriched our lives with nature and a strong sense of community. 

We both work out of our home (my husband works for a company out of state and I do marketing for small businesses throughout Michigan and across the county), and we are thoroughly enjoying the remote-work life that’s far from isolation, thanks to this incredible Mt. Pleasant community. 

Read more articles by Courtney Jerome.

With 15 years of professional media experience, Courtney Jerome has found a passion for storytelling and showcasing our region in a positive light. She's written stories for television broadcasts, numerous magazines, and digital publications. In addition, she owns a boutique creative marketing agency that focuses on social media, photo, and video storytelling for small businesses across Michigan and the county. Contact Courtney via courtney@courtneyjeromemedia.com.