Share the Wealth
School banks provide hands-on learning opportunities for students
School banks allow students to gain practical banking experience, both on the business side in running the bank and on the consumer side in making transactions. Robert B. Blair, a business education professor at Middle Tennessee State University, points out a number of benefits associated with in-school banks.
The chief benefit of having an in-school bank with appropriate curriculum is that it gives students practical, firsthand knowledge and skills in operating a bank (computation, record keeping, customer relations, interpersonal skills, management/supervision, attention to detail, responsibility, confidentiality, etc.) and allows students to apply these skills on a daily basis. An in-school bank also permits students to use the bank to open a savings account and personally manage their finances before leaving high school.
"Any educational program that combines the practical application of newly acquired knowledge and skills will deepen the learning that takes place," according to Blair. "In-school banking programs are teaching knowledge and skills that are useful for gainful employment in the banking industry but also . . . will benefit an individual throughout his or her lifetime."
While school banks may differ in their specific setup and operation, many offer savings accounts and lunch loans. These services allow students to learn the habit of saving and the importance of paying off debt. Most school banks have a process for hiring workers that requires students to complete an application, participate in an interview process for the available positions, obtain positive reviews from teachers, and be enrolled in specific courses at the high school.
Ken Reed of Blackman High School indicates that having a school bank provides the student employees with hands-on experience being tellers, loan officers, customer service representatives, and bank managers. The school's bank—Blaze Savings and Loan, now in its ninth year of operation—also offers the student body valuable knowledge about savings, loans, and other services banks offer.
Cindy Hasty serves as the faculty adviser for the Coffee County Central High School's Red Raider Bank, which has been operating five years. "The student body has the convenience of an on-site bank location, and students learn how to make good financial decisions and how to handle banking transactions based on the experience they have at the bank," said Hasty.
"Members of the school and local community have been very supportive of our bank. The response to our bank has been overwhelmingly positive," said Bobbie Ramsey, the faculty adviser for Gallatin High School's three-year-old Green Wave Bank. A partner bank has trained the students on proper banking procedures and the importance of banking in the community, said Ramsey. Each term, the banking students visit the partner bank, where the banking personnel discuss their responsibilities and give the students a tour.
Lynn Raymond of Carter High School is in the process of setting up a school bank. She suggests talking with other educators who have gone through the process and visiting their school banks. She is relying on a local financial institution partner to provide guidance as well as to assist with providing materials, job shadow opportunities, internships, and guest speakers. If you would like to start a bank at your school, check your state and local laws governing such programs.
Several of these educators have used or will be using Federal Reserve publications as part of their school banks. See the related links for various Federal Reserve print and electronic resources related to money and banking.
By Jackie Morgan, economic and financial education specialist, Nashville Branch