Star Students

Star Students

When Bryan Rigg was 8 years old, he enrolled at Starpoint School after failing first grade twice and being told he would be a junior-high dropout. Rigg, now 45, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a child; he had a speech impediment and a mild form of dyslexia. After one year at Starpoint School, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend, Rigg could read at the fifth grade level.

“I was reading way above students who made fun of me at my previous schools,” he said.

The school will be celebrating its anniversary with an open house today and a banquet Saturday.

Starpoint School is one of TCU’s two active educational laboratory schools for children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, said Shawn Kornegay, assistant director of communications.

Marilyn Tolbert, director and Jean W. Roach Chair of Laboratory Schools, said TCU is the only university with two laboratory schools serving children with special needs. Tolbert described the schools, Starpoint School and KinderFrogs, as on-campus training sites for students, professors and the community.

“The children and TCU students learn at the same time at Starpoint,” Tolbert said. “It’s a very hands-on learning environment for everyone. While the children are learning, students and professors are researching, studying and observing them.”

Tolbert said the school’s curriculum is based on the needs of the children. The school provides children with highly specialized teachers and small classroom sizes, she said.

The school has worked with more than 1,600 children ages 6 to 12 over the past 40 years, Kornegay said.

Starpoint School opened its doors in 1966 when TCU Trustee M.J. Neeley and his wife Alice wanted to develop a school where children with learning disabilities could learn and university students could learn to teach them, according to a press release.

The Neeleys’ grandson had a learning disability that wasn’t recognized until he attended the Starpoint School in New York City, according to an article from TCU Magazine. The Neeleys brought the school’s name and its director to TCU’s campus to help other students with special needs.

Rigg says Starpoint School taught him that it was OK to be different. He said his wife describes his self-esteem as bulletproof and he owes it to Starpoint.

“My learning difference was embraced at Starpoint,” he said. “All I knew before then was failure.”

Rigg graduated with honors from Yale University with three degrees. He was a recipient of the university’s Henry Fellowship and studied at Cambridge University where he received his master’s degree and doctorate. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Rigg has written three books and works as a private wealth manager in Dallas.

Tolbert said Rigg is Starpoint School’s biggest success story.

“I’m as proud of Starpoint as I am of Yale and Cambridge,” Rigg said. “I am so indebted to that school.