Little bankers learn big lessons

Josh Harville jharville@empiretribune.com
The Prosperity Bank "mini branch" inside of the Glen Rose Intermediate School.

The local branch of Prosperity Bank offers a service to intermediate schoolers that is both educational and an investment. Lynda McKinnon, of Prosperity Bank and a retired teacher of 27 years, with Laurie Mapes, Glen Rose Intermediate principal, organized and executed a banking program that is operated on the intermediate campus to teach kids how to bank and save their money.

"Our main goal this year is we want to educate," said McKinnon.

At the beginning of each school year, McKinnon gets a list of all the kids in the school that are participating and then makes them a card that has the date, how much they deposit, and what their balance is. Those cards are on hand at the bank all the time. 

Starting in third grade, the children have an opportunity to open an account and deposit their money with the bank on campus every Friday from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Their total balance rolls over each year until after fifth grade, when the kids will have an opportunity to open an account at the main location of Prosperity Bank. If the parents wish to withdraw their child's saving throughout the year they may do so, but money is never returned to the child until at the end of the year.

"At the end of fifth grade if they do not choose to open an account we just cash out their account and give them their money. If it's a big amount, we call their parents and get them to come get it," McKinnon said.

Another educational opportunity hosted by the intermediate banking service is that it is operated by select fifth grade students.

"We offer this experience to the fifth graders," said McKinnon, "which by the way my granddaughter is in the fifth grade this year, we give the students the opportunity to fill out a job application. Anybody that wants one, in the fifth grade, can take one. It looks a lot like a regular job application, and we do have the parents sign it because we want our tellers to be at the school on time on Friday. The kids have been delighted to be chosen."

"Last year we had 25 kids apply and we only needed 15," McKinnon continued. "We take three kids each six weeks, and we don't start until the second six weeks. We interview them, ask them questions, and ask them to count money."

The young tellers greet the customer, accept their deposit, write them a receipt, and take turns balancing the drawer against the sheet where the names and amounts deposited are written. McKinnon said this works very well.

"Those who take advantage of it, it's awesome. I wish that we could get more," McKinnon said.

This program also benefits the teachers of the intermediate school.

"Teachers now, in the state of Texas, have to teach financial literacy," said McKinnon. "We are working partners with the teachers at the intermediate school on that, and they definitely have a big role to play in teaching financial literacy."

There are no service fees when a child opens an account and everything is confidential. McKinnon is confident that the program is a positive opportunity for the young students to learn about banking, saving, and life skills.