By: Dave Campbell
September 19, 2010
Northeast students get true experience, paycheck
Northeast High School senior Marvin Wilcox is looking forward to working toward a business degree in college and said a new financial education program will help prepare him for his chosen career path.
Wilcox walked around, snapping photos to document the grand opening of the in-school, student-directed branch that Fort Campbell Federal Credit Union opened Friday at Northeast.
"This is a grand opportunity for our students to experience life and employment outside of school," said NEHS Principal Galea Jefferies.
She said the seniors chosen to participate were excited to be a part of a program that related classroom instruction to real-world experience.
"They are going through training in business and work ethics," Jefferies said. "Many have decided this will be their focus when they graduate."
Ramsey said the actual teaching would walk students through working for a financial institution but also pay the students a rate of $8.40 per hour to work in the branch.
"Students can use this branch once they have established an account with the bank," Ramsey said.
James Kotel, who admits he's not the best when it comes to money management, is glad to also receive a little college credit for the course, but said students also like the pay involved.
"I usually want to blow my money," Kotel said. "I'm not that good with it yet, so this will teach me how to manage it better."
Kotel said he could also consider the prospect of working for a financial institution once he's learned the ropes a little more.
"I wouldn't mind being an accountant or teller," he said.
The educational side of the program offers a curriculum-based banking and finance course that teaches incoming senior students hands-on, practical lessons in personal finance management and employment-based guidance.
"I'm so excited and glad the grand opening is finally here," Wilcox said. "Business and financial topics will help me go into the kind of work I want."
President of the credit union, Stewart Ramsey also called it a job-based experience and a couple of the nearly 20 top-recruited students will have the opportunity to work in the regular FCFCU locations around town.
"Over the next month or two we will be looking for a couple of students to work at our regular branch," Ramsey said.
Wilcox said it sounded like an exciting opportunity to fit his needs.
"(This) is what I'm looking for," he said. "Experience in this type of field."
Students attending the lunchtime kickoff said being selected to participate in the program was based mainly around their performance.
Mikyla Jackson said she is hoping to learn how to manage her money more effectively through this process.
"I'm trying to get a better look at financial stability and managing our own finances," Jackson said.
Ebonisha Leavell is considering the banking system as a potential work environment in the future, she said. "This way, when I go to look for jobs, this could be something I look into and learn more about."
As part of the operational, in-school credit union branch, students can make withdrawals and deposits, Ramsey said, while instructors like LaJoyce Weatherspoon will teach the finer points of financing and budgeting in the year-long course.
"We're so thrilled," Weatherspoon said. "And I am honored to be a part of a district that supports our kids with opportunities for real experience."
The program will serve as an enhancement to any lessons in economics and accounting students gain in high school, Ramsey said. "This doesn't replace anything."
Experts from FCFCU will visit the classroom to speak to students, while teachers are free to invite guest speakers.
Teachers have been teaching financially preparation for the last few years Ramsey said, but students will further learn "financial assimilation" as they plan a month's budget to include rent, groceries, car notes and other forms of debt.
"The plan was to teach them the household mindset and get them coordinated with managing their funds," Ramsey said. "We are passionate to get involved and put ourselves here for children and parents."
The bank will kick off another program at Rossview High School, Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information contact FCFCU Membership Development Director, Susan Dickinson at 931-431-2281.
Dave Campbell is a freelance reporter for The Leaf-Chronicle. His editor can be reached at 931-245-0282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.