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Melba teacher uses escape rooms to teach math: 'I want them to have a happy experience'

Courtney Linker was named to 2023 class of Extraordinary Educators.

MELBA, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

What do you get when you add a teacher who is passionate about learning and teaching, with creative lessons? Innovative educator Courtney Linker.

The seventh-grade math and art teacher at Melba Junior/Senior High has been teaching for 16 years. Last month, Linker was selected as one of the 2023 class of extraordinary educators

“I was thrilled when I was accepted,” Linker said. “They provide the curriculum for my seventh-grade math class, but they also provide like remediation type stuff through I-ready classroom.”

Now she's taking those concepts and bringing them to life.

“I want them to know there's a purpose for it, and I want them to be engaged in that learning process and that experience,” Linker said. 

To do that, she's incorporated some creative and innovative activities in her classroom, like escape rooms.

“I love it, I’m always up for a challenge,” Linker said. “I like to be able to see how I can take my content and pull it into those activities and kind of bring that learning to life rather than sitting at the desks and looking in the workbook the whole time.” 

She also added math lessons into the 12 days of Christmas and had another escape room in January. 

“It was based off of Harry Potter, but it reflected our unit for content, which was on expressions, equations and inequalities,” Linker said. 

Coming up at the end of the year, the class will factor math into farming.

“There's so much math that goes into farming, a lot of geometry, a lot of ratios and proportional relationships, but then they also get to plant their own seeds and watch them grow. and, and then drones will finish out the school year with drones and learning how to code drones, fly drones, build obstacle courses for them work together as a team,” Linker said. I’m in education because I care a lot about kids, all of them, whether they're my students or not, and I want them to have a happy life, I want them to have a happy experience.”

She adds, that moment when a concept clicks for a student, that is at the square root of why Linker does what she does.

“It's the best, that's what you work for as an educator,” Linker said. “That's why I do what I do because every kid can learn, every kid has the ability to learn and I, when they make that realization, it's just like the greatest gift not just for me, but I think for them as well.” 

CapEd gave Linker a grant to purchase the books used for her escape rooms. She also credits professional development opportunities and meeting with other educators for helping inspire some of her creativity.

If you would like to nominate an innovative educator for us to feature, just email us at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com and tell us how they're going above and beyond.

Educators, if you'd like information on submitting an application for a classroom grant, visit capedfoundation.org.

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