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Sharing Our Story - Renae Visser

May 13, 2015
By Renae Visser

My name is Renae Visser, daughter of Greg and Connie Visser. I was born and raised in the beautiful valley of Sunnyside. I went to Sunnyside Christian School from Kindergarten with Mrs. Bos all the way to my senior year, where I was taking a class on Christian adult living with Mr. Wagenaar, eager to see what was ahead for me in life.

Sunnyside Christian School is not just a place that taught me how to solve an algebraic equation, or the ways to use APA format in writing an essay, but was a place that prepared me for the many challenges and adventures that life has given me since I left the halls of Sunnyside Christian. 

During my time as a student at Sunnyside Christian, I was a typical case of the social butterfly. I remember in third grade asking my parents why they weren’t going to parent teacher conferences, and their response was: “Why would we go? We know the teacher is going to say that Renae loves school, but she just talks too much!” This is something that got me in trouble all through school, but has been a part of shaping who I am today.

Something that helped me in who I am today was the incredible challenge that each teacher put into every part of my education. Sunnyside Christian is a place that values hard work, and this was evident though the amount of faith that my teachers had in each of us as learners, to make us into the best students we could be. Teachers are special people! ( I say this as I begin my career as a teacher!) They mold students in the ways they choose, and I can say with complete confidence that they molded me into someone who refuses to accept a passing grade, and rather strives to be better.

With this being said, I have always struggled through school. I had teachers who never looked down on me for not understanding a concept right away; rather they looked at it as an opportunity to show me new ways of learning. With this, I went to Dordt College feeling confident that Sunnyside Christian High School had given me all of the possible tools to succeed in my life to come. 

Faith was a huge part of the decision that my parents made in sending me to a Christian school. It required a lot of prayer, sacrifice, and love to decide to give me the best education they could. However, I know with full confidence that my parents, having watched me and my journey through Sunnyside Christian would see the amount of love that I have found in my friendships to be something that is invaluable. Now, as I am a college graduate of Dordt College, four years from my graduation from Sunnyside Christian School, I still remain close with many of my classmates, knowing that they will be relationships that will continue for the rest of my life.

I am, however, a unique example of life after Sunnyside Christian. During my junior year as a college student, I lost my mom in her battle to cancer. This was not the only hardship in my life; two other people from my high school lost a parent in the same year. Though we were no longer high school students, we were able to band together in the faith and love that we had for each other and our families to fight through the hardships that were in our lives. This life experience opened my eyes even more to the importance of the relationships I formed in the community of Sunnyside Christian School.

Now, a year after my mom’s passing, a college diploma in my hand, a fiancé, and a classroom full of energetic third graders, I am excited to see what God has in store for me in the years to come. With my graduation from Dordt College, I am looking forward to marrying Trey Hugen on July 11. After our wedding day, we are excited to announce that we have both accepted teaching positions in Modesto California. I will be teaching third grade, and Trey will be teaching fifth grade.

This is an exciting time in our lives, and I would like to thank every person at Sunnyside Christian School who has helped me in becoming the daughter in Christ that I am. To God be the glory for the many things He has done! 

Jan Albrecht says:
May 18, 2015 12:56 PM CST

Thanks for sharing your story! Not only was it well written, but very interesting. I could almost hear you talking! Hopefully it will speak to others about christian education. And thru all of your story you kept your beautiful smile alive. Thanks again.

Gloria Schwarz says:
January 18, 2018 09:39 PM CST

Dear Renae,

I read your story.  I am so happy that your Dad put this on Facebook, otherwise I probably never would have had the opportunity to read it!

I watched from afar how you did in school while in Sunnyside, and then off to Dort University.  It was so nice to see you get your degree in teaching and then become engaged to a wonderful man that you love.  Your wedding was so beautiful and then off you went to start your new life in California.

I also spent all my years from kidnergarden thru 12th grade in the Sunnyside School District, only public school, not private.    The friends that I made and knew for many years still remain friends of mine, over 50 years later.  I think that is the wonderful thing about a small town, friendships last.

I wish you the very best life, dear Renae!  God bless you and Trey.

Love, Great Aunt Gloria