If you are a member of Class Act Federal Credit Union, it may be surprising to learn that a high school student might be your next teller. At Doss and Southern High Schools, The Class Act Academy of Business and Finance has student-run credit union branches open to the public that offer sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on, real-world work experience.
As the only education-based credit union in the area, and as the credit union for JCPS employees since 1954, the Board of Directors at Class Act Federal Credit Union are educators as well and see it as their mission to create a community of smart savers. The program provides in-depth financial literacy to students at these schools and educates them on the basic skills required to move into an entry-level position within a financial institution.
Doss Faculty Instructor Ashley Blount said Class Act’s dedication to financial literacy has been instrumental to the students at Doss. “The students in the Business and Finance Academy have the opportunity to gain real-world experience. They are developing skills necessary for the workforce and gaining a variety of financial knowledge through hands-on learning, financial workshops and project-based learning activities,” said Blount.
The Class Act Academy of Business and Finance is an elite program for exceptional students. Students chosen as Student Member Relations Specialist for the High School Branch are employees of Class Act FCU and are expected to adhere to the same high standards as any other employee of the Credit Union.
Students are educated on credit union operations and philosophy and given important responsibilities. They must maintain an accurate cash drawer, open accounts, complete paperwork for members, perform coursework modules and branch work.
Requirements for admission
In order to participate in this competitive program, students must obtain referrals from at least three teachers as well as their school counselor. An application and essay are required and students must meet or exceed the minimum GPA, school attendance and behavior requirements established for the program. In addition, the student interviews for the position in front of a five-member panel of school and credit union representatives. After successful completion of those steps, students head to a rigorous multi-week paid summer training program that prepares them to work in the school branch for course credit.
Terra Greenwell, Academy Principal of Business & Finance at Doss High School, said that since opening their new academy model location, “it has become ingrained in the school’s culture as something for which students can be proud. Class Act has become the cornerstone of the success of the Business and Finance Academy,” she said.
Southern High School senior Belmin Mehic said the financial skills he learned from his experience at the credit union are valuable tools for a lifetime. “I learned to determine the difference between needs and wants, open a savings and checking account, balance the account with a statement and build a budget. I also learned about the importance of saving/investing.”
Doss Senior Jessica Adams said she was grateful to be given the opportunity to learn skills needed after high school. “Through the Class Act program, I learned about banking, customer service and the importance of personal finance.”
‘Partnership with Class Act Federal Credit Union has been amazing’
Southern High School Faculty Instructor Tim Laha said the partnership the school has with Class Act Federal Credit Union is “amazing. They’ve put a ‘real’ financial institution in our school to help students learn about financial services. This work-based learning experience begins with a paid summer internship and continues during the school year as a class that students earn credits for their Financial Services pathway. It not only teaches students employability skills but helps them learn how to make good decisions about their own finances as they advance into adulthood.”
Students in the program are often selected throughout the school year to work at the other Class Act FCU branches when on breaks from school or on weekends. The program has hired graduated students to work in their branches while in college in various positions, including management. Students have also been hired at other financial institutions and at credit union shared branches in part, from being referred by Class Act FCU. Acquiring sales and service techniques while working in the high school branches has helped them serve members effectively and obtain experience in the real workforce.
JCPS students, staff, retirees and current volunteers are eligible for membership along with their immediate families.
In addition to Class Act’s commitment to students through the Class Act Academy of Business and Finance, Class Act FCU presents $1,000 scholarships to three young Class Act members annually. Recipients are randomly drawn from three age groups. The scholarships are awarded at Class Act FCU’s Annual Membership Meeting.