Westminster High educator named Md. teacher of the year


"NOTHING GREAT was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Ralph Waldo Emerson said it first, but it has become Debbie Harbaugh's motto.

It's clear her enthusiasm and abilities as an English teacher at Westminster High School are being recognized. Harbaugh recently was named Maryland State Teacher of the Year.

"I was surprised," Harbaugh said. "I feel especially good because I was chosen by my peers, other teachers. Even though the real reward is in seeing the kids learn and grow, [the award] reinforces what I do."

Harbaugh was nominated by Mary Kay Maurer, the English Department chairwoman at Westminster High School. She received recognition and a plaque Oct. 25 in Columbia.

Harbaugh is no stranger to awards. She was named Carroll County Teacher of the Year for the 1994-1995 school year and has been nominated numerous times for the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce's Outstanding Teacher award. She has been teaching 23 years, all at Westminster High School.

About her teaching methods, Harbaugh said, "I like to get my students to express themselves in ways that are more than just memorizing the answers to a test."

When her class read Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado," she had the students research the history of the coat of arms and design a coat of arms of their own.

"This adds dimension to their studies," she said.

Harbaugh acknowledged that teaching has changed over the years. "The content is the same," she said, "but the strategies and techniques for teaching have changed. The kids now come to us with more problems and conflicts."

Harbaugh believes in the system and the students.

"The things I teach now, I wish I had been taught in high school," she said with a laugh.

Pub Date: 12/09/96

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