Coalhurst Elementary enters the banking business

 page image
Posted on:
Tellers Emily Schwartkopf, left, and Kayla Kooiker practise writing up a deposit slip.

Leadership, job skills and financial literacy among program benefits

Within a couple of years, Coalhurst Elementary School student Ashley Philip will be searching for a part-time job, and she’ll have three very important letters on her resume — CEO.

Philip is the chief executive officer of her school’s Junior ATB, a program offered by ATB Financial. Philip and 17 other students will operate a deposit-only bank over the lunch break once every two weeks, giving their classmates an opportunity to learn the power of saving money.

The first deposit day will be later this month, but Junior ATB “staff” have been hard at work for nearly two months, training, planning and marketing their bank.

They do so under the guidance of Michelle Mann, manager of ATB’s Lethbridge Highlands Crossing branch.

“Financial literacy is my passion,” Mann said Friday morning as students toured the bank, set up in the school library.

In keeping with the school’s Leader in Me focus on leadership skills, the students working at the bank will learn teamwork, accountability and other “attributes I look for when I hire,” Mann said.

Philip and others working as tellers, security, back cash counters and directors on the board had to apply, create a resume and interview for their positions.

Philip spoke at the assembly launching the bank program, developing her public speaking skills.

“It was fun to see the kids’ reaction when I was talking up there,” she said. “They’re so excited about the things we’re doing.”

They’re also excited about the $1,000 coming to the school from ATB, $500 of which will be put toward a school project of the bank board’s choosing, and the other $500 toward running the bank, including marketing. To celebrate Friday’s launch, the bank board invested in gluten- and peanut-free treat bags for all the students.

Taya Clifton, the bank’s community officer, said she’s already learned a lot from her new job.

“I didn’t know there were so many people involved in running a bank,” she said.

Payton Grindle, the bank’s marketing manager and Grade 6 student, said one key marketing strategy was to create posters about the bank for display around the school. It turned out to be an exercise in teamwork. When it became clear she and the board members couldn’t complete all the posters in the one hour they’d allotted, they called in the full staff of tellers, greeters and others to help. Mission accomplished.

Junior ATB branches started last year at Vulcan Prairieview Elementary and Noble Central School.