Dr. Carol McArthur: Specialist in Special Education

The Professor Who Helps University Students Learn How to Teach Despite Disabilities

Becoming a candidate for a teaching position is both exciting and challenging. Selecting a Teacher with Students Disabilities (TSD endorsement) brings educators into a world that many may not have known about before.

Dr. Carol McArthur, professor of special education, knows that each student with disabilities is different in his or her own way. She inspires this love for learning and teaching in her students.

McArthur, like her students, has a passion to help others. She said, “I have always wanted to work with children. I taught pre-school and first grade in a general education setting before moving to special education.”

McArthur continued, “The individual students and the other teachers and professionals were what inspired me to continue in special education. It is a unique experience.” This experience includes working with students from all levels and with all types of disabilities, from learning to physical and psychological.

McArthur is experienced in working with these students and said that it is important to strive for them and to do what they think they cannot. She added that many students with disabilities see the world differently than the typical person.

Family background is also a more significant factor. “I taught in a self-contained classroom, as well as a science classroom, at a residential special education facility, and then became Assistant Director of the school. The boys at the school were classified as ‘emotionally or behaviorally disabled,’ said McArthur.

Many of the children McArthur has worked with came from abusive backgrounds. Many also spent time in psychiatric hospitals, so they were delayed academically. “It was a challenge to try to bring them up to grade level. Overall, the number of students who rose above those challenges was inspiring,” McArthur added. 

McArthur currently teaches both undergraduate and graduate special education courses here at the University. This semester she teaches Human Exceptionality, Methods of Teaching Students with Disabilities, and Family/School/Community Partnerships and Resources, P-12.

Human Exceptionality introduces students to the categories of disability. The class takes a trip to Harbor School to provide real-world examples of information read in texts and journals; strategies, technology, and resources. Students appreciated the visit to learn more about what is happening in the classroom in a private special education school since many are unfamiliar with that type of setting. They also saw the enthusiasm and dedication of special education professionals.

Family/School/Community Partnerships and Resources, P-12 teaches students to identify and access resources for teachers and families of students with special needs.

Methods of Teaching Students with Disabilities is a graduate course focused on teaching strategies for students with special needs, especially evidence-based strategies and current research in the field.

McArthur said the most exciting part of the year is meeting her new students or teacher candidates. She loves the energy they all bring to her class.

Junior Rachel Fox had her first experience with the special education field through Mcarthur’s Human Exceptionality course. She is currently pursuing an endorsement in this field as well as for pre-school through third grade.

Junior Lauren Walsh, also had her first glimpse of the area in her course.

“I definitely learned so much more about special education as a whole. I came out of her class knowing so much more than when I first started. It was very helpful and I would definitely take her again,” said Walsh. The inspiration transcends into many of the students who took her courses and many see things much differently than they did when they entered. McArthur’s courses gave them better appreciation for resources available in the community.

McArthur has one last piece of advice to share with her students, “I would suggest that all students make time to speak individually with their professors so that they can communicate their interests and any special needs. Students with disabilities should avail themselves of the resources and personnel in the Department of Disability Services.”