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New librarian makes books, learning inviting through social media

Kelli Nicholson is using social media as a way to connect with students in her new position as Fredericktown High School librarian.

“We’re starting small on Twitter and Instagram,” she said.

“Well I think that social media is our kids’ world and we have to meet them where they are,” Nicholson said. “So, we are going to do our best to kind of infiltrate that and hopefully get them excited about what we are doing.”

One example of the social media interaction occurred last week. Nicholson explained that Aug. 8 was “International Cat Day.”

“So, I tweeted out and put on Instagram, basically a picture of a cat with a book and I would retweet it or re-post it,.”

Nicholson said it was good because she got responses from several students who sent replies and pictures of cats back.

“The high school and the high school athletic department, they both have Twitter (accounts) and the kids follow them,” she added.

Nicholson has also added a coloring station were students can come in if they have a short break or study hall during the school day.

“It’s a place to just come and hang out,” she said.

The Library Media Center or LMC has added a new class called research studies which will be taught by Nicholson beginning this school year.

Nicholson said smaller groups seem to work well with this age group. This will be a credit course for seniors.

“They (students) are choosing what they want to study, maybe it’s French or maybe it’s engineering,” the librarian said. “Then, I’m helping them create a plan for how they want to go about studying those things.”

The class members will use resources in the library across all different types of media, internet, cd’s, e-books, e-magazines, and even cell phone apps. Then, they (students) design how they want to be assessed.

“Do they want to write papers, do they want to keep a journal, or create a project,” Nicholson said. “So, really they’re in charge of their education. It’s independent, I’m just really overseeing them.”

The research studies class helps them branch out into areas the school may not be able to offer.

The regular school day has become more full of academic subjects, so some of the time for extra-curricular activities has been squeezed out in the last few years.

“The Fredericktown R-I School District staff tries really hard to ensure that all students receive a variety of educational opportunities,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson has come up with a new book display over the summer. The smaller block style of the shelving units allows books to be grouped into smaller categories. One of those categories is Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics or STEM. She hopes to have a STEM activities night in the LMC on a chosen night at a manageable frequency for staff and students. Nicholson expressed her desire to recruit help from other teachers at the high school.

These afterschool programs could allow students to pursue interests they don’t have time to learn during the regular school day. Smaller groups would give them access to more one-on-one time with teachers. This is beneficial to the learning curve of each child according to Nicholson. By maximizing utilization of library materials and space, Nicholson can help better prepare her students.

According to Ken Lunsford, Kelly A. Burlison Middle School principal, in addition to duties at the high school, Nicholson has also agreed to teach problem solving classes to seventh graders at the middle school.

“The students are given a narrative that outlines a scenario that could be true to life,” Nicholson said. “They find the clues in it and then they engage in problem solving in groups.”

“The enrichment program has been added to the half-hour block of time on their schedule called ‘Pride Time,’” Lunsford said. “Students will be allowed to rotate through a four-week series of classes.”

Initially, in addition to problem solving, some of the subjects covered may include history, natural science, line dancing, travel planning and cooking, all with a hands-on approach.

“The problem solving class involves critical thinking across genres, such as history and natural science,” Lunsford explained.

During this same time block extra intervention in math and English, known as RTI, is available for some students.

Nicholson began her professional teaching career at Valley R-VI School District in Caledonia for two years. She was a tenth grade English teacher for five years at FHS, before she took on the librarian role this year. She also teaches Public Speaking and English Composition at Mineral Area College in the evenings. Nicholson holds Masters of Arts in English and Bachelors of Arts in English Education degrees from Southeast Missouri State University.

Nicholson is a Fredericktown High School graduate and worked as a typesetter and secretary at the “Democrat News” while she was in school there.

The FHS library is utilized by faculty and staff as well as students. One example was a class computer class held, Aug. 10. The class instructor was Kevin Coffman who Nicholson says is a former Fredericktown student, also.

Nicholson and the staff strive to broaden student access to the library by having it open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. each school day. You may access the library’s programs and information by sending them a tweet on Twitter at FHSLibraryMedia or a post on Instagram at FHSLMC.

New Fredericktown High School Librarian Kelli Nicholson stands near the new STEM section of books at the FHS library.

New Fredericktown High School Librarian Kelli Nicholson stands near the new STEM section of books at the FHS library.

Blackcats point the way to the LMC for new students on the first day of school, Thursday.

Blackcats point the way to the LMC for new students on the first day of school, Thursday.

The coloring station can be a place to color or just hang out during student breaks.   

The coloring station can be a place to color or just hang out during student breaks.   

Traci M. Black is a reporter for the Democrat News and can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at

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