The name of the Carroll County Teacher of the Year was a big secret, to be revealed at last month's school board meeting.
But when Assistant Superintendent Gary L. Dunkleberger made the announcement, Deborah C. Harbaugh was not there.
"We did such a good job of keeping it a secret that even she didn't find out about it," said Superintendent Brian Lockard.
Dr. Lockard said it was an oversight that no one notified Ms. Harbaugh that she was the winner, and the board's nominee for the Maryland Teacher of the Year competition this fall. The Westminster High School English teacher received her plaque yesterday.
"I didn't let it spoil anything for me," she said. "I was thrilled."
The evening of May 10, Ms. Harbaugh returned home from a YMCA meeting and a three-mile run, and went to sleep before the board meeting ended. Her husband had been at the home of friends, the Walkers, when Barbara Walker, Runnymede Elementary School principal, returned from the meeting and told him his wife had been named teacher of the year. She called to congratulate Ms. Harbaugh, who had fallen asleep.
When Danny Harbaugh got home, he woke his wife and played Ms. Walker's message, but Ms. Harbaugh was guardedly excited because she hadn't heard officially.
When she arrived at the school the next morning, more people started congratulating her: it was in the newspaper. "I said, 'Oh, well, I guess it's true then,' " she said.
Ms. Harbaugh was nominated by her department chairwoman, Mary Kay Nevius-Maurer, a former teacher of the year.
Ms. Harbaugh received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida in 1974 and a master's from Western Maryland College in 1981.
Each of her 21 years at Westminster High, Ms. Harbaugh has taught at least one freshman English class -- by choice.
"I guess I've always loved English I," she said. "I like working with ninth-graders. One of my favorite things to teach is 'Romeo and Juliet.' The kids really get into that, and I think part of it is my enthusiasm for it. The ninth-graders like Romeo and Juliet because the characters are the same age as they are: the generation gap, the parents and the conflicts."