Valley Oaks Charter Graduates Credit Unique Schooling for Success

Friday May 31, 2024

Valley Oaks Charter School (VOCS) Tehachapi and Bakersfield campuses celebrated the high school graduation of nearly a hundred students this week, marking the culmination of years of personalized education and remarkable achievements for many. VOCS, a school that values and respects parent choice, offers a unique approach to education. It allows parents to customize their child’s learning experience, tailoring it to their individual needs in a homeschool environment. Valley Oaks Director Becky Bartz explains that VOCS employs a variety of teaching methods. By working closely with VOCS’ qualified teachers, parents can adapt lessons to their child’s academic ability and learning style, fostering a truly personalized education.

VOCS’s flexibility has been instrumental in the success of two outstanding students, Kyler Sparling and Jackson Stout. They have taken advantage of the numerous opportunities available at VOCS, such as dual enrollment and participation in various clubs that encourage community involvement. As they reflect on their educational journey at VOCS, they credit the school for instilling in them the confidence and readiness for the next phase of their lives. 

Kyler Sparling

Kyler Sparling

Sparling’s journey at Valley Oaks began in 2017 at the Tehachapi campus, where he developed a passion for science, math, reading, and writing. He recently scored an impressive 96 on the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, demonstrating his strong abilities in verbal, math, science and technical, and spatial skills. The score helped encourage him to pursue his dream of becoming a mechanical or aerospace engineer someday.

With his acceptance to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., a prestigious institution known for its Aerospace Engineering programs, he is one step closer to realizing his goals.

According to Sparling, his success stems from the flexibility made available to him at VOCS.

“VOCS taught me that progress is about doing better than you were doing, not better than others are doing,” said Sparling. “My experience with VOCS was always guided but not restricted. I was able to show curiosity and creativity, and my dreams were never put down as totally unrealistic or impractical.” 

Sparling’s journey is a testament to the success that can be achieved with the right support and environment, leaving us all feeling proud and optimistic about the future of VOCS students.

VOCS taught me that progress is about doing better than you were doing, not better than others are doing.

— Kyler Sparling

Beyond academics, Sparling has achieved a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has run the LA Marathon twice, raising $3150 for clean water for 63 kids through Team World Vision. His teacher, Nena Thornburg, praised Sparling for his dedication to service.

“He has been an active member of the high school Interact Club, a senior representative for the Associated Student Body (ASB), and a volunteer at his church,” said Thornburg. “He always went above and beyond to serve others, which clearly sets him apart from other students.”

Sparling credits his success to his parents, friends, and his teachers for their unwavering support, teaching him valuable lessons and encouraging him to strive for continuous self-improvement.

Jackson Stout

Stout, the valedictorian of VOCS Bakersfield, has also had a remarkable journey. Before he walked across the stage on Thursday night at VOCS Bakersfield, he had already graduated from Bakersfield College with an Associate of Arts. 

Although accepted to UCLA and other California universities, Stout plans to attend California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) in the fall for just one year before he is able to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in liberal science. He will only be 19 years old.

Other plans include attending UCLA for law school, eventually pursuing a career in law enforcement, and becoming an attorney. Jackson’s interest in law was sparked by family friends and solidified through internships with a deputy attorney and a judge.

Jackson Stout is the 2024 valedictorian of VOCS Bakersfield.

“Those experiences helped narrow down exactly where I want to go,” Stout explained. “Advice from mentors like Judge Tim Roberts, who suggested starting in law enforcement and later transitioning to being an attorney, has been invaluable.”

Stout also believes that attending VOCS from Kindergarten to 12th grade significantly impacted his achievements. Despite moving to a traditional public school setting in 9th grade, Stout returned to VOCS in 10th grade at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The VOCS community provided a flexible and supportive academic environment,” said Stout. “I could enroll in the dual enrollment program, which was super beneficial as they helped me get ahead by covering the cost of all the college courses.”

Balancing his academic pursuits with extracurricular activities, Jackson is passionate about working out, sports, and training in mixed martial arts (MMA). He credits his success to consistent hard work and the support of his family and teachers. As Jackson prepares for the next step in his academic journey, he leaves a legacy of educational excellence and perseverance.

His advice to current high school and community college students?

“Never stop with hard work; always be consistent and persistent,” he said.

By Jennifer Bryan

By Jennifer Bryan

Jennifer Bryan joined Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2021 as a Communications Specialist. As a creative and motivated marketing communications specialist, she has a special knack for storytelling and content creation. Born and raised in Kern County, Jennifer has worked in major industries within the region such as agriculture and oil and gas before she made the transition to education.