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 Getting to Know SDCOE: Teacher Works to Shatter Stereotypes

Michelle McArthur was inspired to become a teacher by the educators she had as a child who shaped her love for learning by making it come alive.

By the time she was 12, she already knew that she wanted to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing. That’s exactly what she does now as an itinerant teacher with the San Diego County Office of Education's North Coastal Consortium for Special Education, where she works with students from preschool to age 22.

Itinerant teachers travel from school to school, helping to make it possible for students with special needs to stay in their neighborhood school and in a mainstream classroom setting.

McArthur has been a teacher for 17 years and strives to guide her students toward becoming well-rounded and knowledgeable.

“Being an educator for students who are deaf or hard of hearing adds layers to my professional passion with a constant underlying goal to empower my students to push themselves to succeed beyond anyone’s stereotypical perception of their disability,” she said.

This often involves educating not only her students, but their parents, peers, and other school employees about hearing loss, Deaf culture, American Sign Language, hearing aids and cochlear implants, and communication access.

“I work to debunk myths and demystify deafness as well as equip my students with the ability to address the inevitable assumptions they will face solely based on the function of their ears,” she said. “People with disabilities have so many more talents than limitations.”

McArthur always makes sure her students are encouraged, challenged, and supported, said Heidi Padilla, another itinerant teacher with the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education.

“Michelle consistently goes above and beyond normal expectations of her job,” Padilla said. “She is a teacher that genuinely cares about not only the academic success of her students, but also their emotional well-being and their lives beyond the classroom.”