With less than an hour to go before the dismissal bell rang yesterday, a pregnant substitute teacher at Sykesville Middle School excused herself from class to go to the ladies' room, where she delivered a healthy baby girl.

The mother and baby were doing well last night at Carroll County General Hospital, said Gill Chamblin, a hospital spokeswoman. The mother declined to be interviewed or to allow release of her name, Chamblin said.

It happened so fast -- in about 10 to 15 minutes -- that the school nurse barely made it to the upstairs faculty lavatory in time to assist the otherwise uncomplicated delivery, said Principal Donald Pyles.

He said the substitute had been in class with students all day. A few staff members said that other than mentioning a "stomachache" in the morning, she hadn't mentioned any labor pains, Pyles said.

About 2:20 p.m., during the last period of the day, she left to go to the restroom. A teacher heard her calling for help and summoned Beth Harkins, the school's registered nurse, who rushed upstairs with a blanket and supplies.

After calling 911, Assistant Principal Tom Hill followed Harkins upstairs, with Pyles a few paces behind.

"The baby had already been born by the time we got up there," Pyles said.

Hill said Harkins checked the condition of the mother and baby, who was letting out a robust cry, and kept them comfortable until the ambulance arrived.

Hill said teachers passed the word up and down the hall, each asking their students to stay calm and out of the hallway while an ambulance crew arrived.

The administrators routed school buses around the ambulance, including a field trip bus that was returning to the school on what ended as a full and busy day, Hill said.

"I've been here 31 years and never had this happen before," said Pyles, who has worked at several schools in the county. "We've rushed them [other pregnant teachers] to the hospital before, but this is the first time I know of a baby being born in a school.

"Yeah, we'll be giving her a full day's pay," Pyles said. "The thing I don't know is whether we should be giving two of them a full day's pay -- the baby and her."

Pub Date: 4/22/97

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