Starpoint at 50
A big, open room in the center of Starpoint School vibrated with excited voices. Using every available chair and space on the floor in the brick building on Stadium Drive, elementary school students worked with TCU education majors during tutoring sessions.
Galen Storey, a then-junior education major in her second semester at the on-campus lab school, conducted a math lesson for three students in a tiled hallway one morning last spring. The 10-year-old boys translated the results of a mock presidential election.
Two students plotted presidential votes on a line graph that sloped down from George Washington to the least-popular candidates. The strongest math student, sitting cross-legged, apportioned equal pieces of a pie graph for the election’s runners-up.
Storey tailored the project to each student’s math capabilities. In doing so, she attempted to reach each member of a group of children who learn in atypical ways, which is a commonality among Starpoint students.
Marilyn Tolbert ’96 (MEd ’00, EdD ’10), director of Starpoint, explained the most common way students arrive at the 65-pupil school. After struggling to keep up in traditional kindergarten or first-grade classrooms and receiving a diagnosis of a specific learning disability (dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, for example), children and their parents visit the 50-year-old school seeking help.
Starpoint’s educators pinpoint where incoming students fell behind in mainstream classrooms. “Our job is to shore those cracks up by going back and looking at what the gaps are in learning, and then helping them figure that out,” Tolbert said. The goal is to get the students back to their home schools with renewed confidence for academic success.
“I think the biggest thing that we have … is helping [students] understand that they are smart, and they can do very well,” Tolbert said. “And, they can succeed and do whatever they want.”
Tolbert delivers an even more optimistic message to parents: Once addressed, learning differences often turn into creative advantages. “I always tell them, ‘Your children are the ones that everybody else is going to be working for because they’re the entrepreneurs. They’re the Steve Jobses. They’re the imagineers.’”