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For some 3,000 students in the Colbert County School system Thursday was their first day back in class, and Superintendent Dr. Gale Satchel said it was a huge success.
This year the school system partnered with First Metro Bank to build and open three mini bank branches in the school system's three high schools. The mini bank branches are in Colbert Heights, Colbert County, and Cherokee high schools.
The mini bank branches look like real banks and are operated by selected students so they can learn the basics of banking.
"This is work-based learning at its finest," said Colbert County's finance teacher, Brooklyn Godwin.
The banking job goes along with Godwin's finance class where students learn real-life banking skills.
"Our students are doing all of the day-to-day transactions that a real teller does," said Godwin.
"Students can open bank accounts, cash checks, do currency exchanges, withdrawals, and deposits. These kids run these banks so they interview for the position, they are hired for the position, they earn a grade for their participation and they do peer-to-peer financial counseling," said Alana Parker, Community Relations Officer with First Metro Bank.
Kerigan Mardis, a junior, is one of the student tellers at Colbert County High School. She trained over the summer with First Metro Bank for the position. She said she learned the ethics of banking and how to help other students when they come to the mini bank branch wanting to open accounts.
"If they walk in here and seem lost show them the process, sit down with them and help them do mobile banking and online banking," said Mardis.
Mardis told WAAY31 she wants to go into accounting and jumped on this opportunity. She said she's learned a lot, too.
"Cash-handling skills, how to balance ledgers, anything that can help with a business or accounting degree. Any kind of job you have to have these skills and customer service is a really big deal," said Mardis. "This is some experience I can't gain anywhere else. It will be great experience to get me started and get me accepted into an accounting program. It's just a good head start that not every high school student gets."
The mini bank will officially open on Monday for students and teachers. The mini bank branches are not open to the public. Mardis said she is excited to see how the first day goes.
"I am so thankful that First Metro took their time and took their money to invest in doing this for students," said Mardis.
At the end of the day the money and paperwork from the mini bank branch will be taken by a safe carrier system to a real First Metro Bank branch, where an employee processes the items and double-checks the student tellers' work.
First Metro has this same program in Muscle Shoals, Florence, and Athens city schools. Across North Alabama they have a total of 32 student tellers.
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