Early financial literacy: credit union & high school team up to educate students

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Students have the opportunity now to gain more financial experience as Northeast Community Credit Union (NCCU) launches a credit union at Elizabethton High School.

NCCU developed a curriculum to teach students about various financial situations — everything from opening a bank account to taking out loans to customer service.

“We have developed a 16-week program that we can use at each of the two schools where we have student branches that allows us to use up to eight groups of students per school year,” said Teresa Arnold, NCCU President and CEO.

This opening follows after another student credit union has proved successful and helpful at Unaka High School. The program at EHS will launch Spring 2022.

Students will work at the booth once the curriculum launches.

“We plan on getting a couple of students each semester that actually work hand-in-hand with a credit union,” said Dusty Duncan the EHS community partnership director. “They obviously won’t have their hands in physical accounts of our students and our staff, but they’ll be able to kind of work together doing customer service skills.”

For now, the credit union is making its staff available to both students and staff.

“We’ve had a lot of students coming up asking questions about it,” said Duncan. “We’ve had probably three to four students already open accounts.”

Duncan said they’ve primarily been advertising the branch to teachers and staff as an option available to them as they prepare to launch the curriculum for students.

Students will be interviewed to participate in the program based on teacher recommendations. They are primarily seeking students who will be rising juniors and juniors in the spring to take part in the program.

According to Duncan, EHS already offers courses on financial management, so they hope to give students hands-on experience as well as access to internships to apply that knowledge.

Students are ready and eager to tackle some big goals.

EHS Junior Emma Pendergrass said she is saving for a new car. While she doesn’t have a bank account open now, she hopes to have one soon.

“I really think that would be a great opportunity to go into that class and just know all about all the stuff that you have to know about a loan because a lot of people think you can just go in and get one, but it’s not like that; you have to have good credit,” said Pendergrass.

Fellow Junior Jayci Bowers is thinking well into her future when it comes to the program. While Bowers said she already has a bank account, she is excited to have the opportunity to learn about finances.

“I just want to be able to be a good spender and be wise with my money,” said Bowers. “So I can have that money later on for future purposes, like kids or just a car and so that I won’t be stuck in a rut in life.”

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