The newest credit union in Blount County has some of the youngest employees.
The Royal Treasury Credit Union at Eagleton Middle School officially opened Tuesday morning with a ribbon cutting on the front steps of the school.
A group of students who will run the day-to-day operations of the school branch posed with Y-12 CEO Tom Hilton to celebrate the new venture between the credit union and Eagleton Middle School. The entire student body came out to watch the ceremony.
The student who were trained to manage the credit union had already helped their classmates start 27 savings accounts during a recent open house. Hilton said he was impressed. “Twenty-seven accounts! I wish some of our branches would open that many,” he said
Hilton said what is important to him and those with the credit union is that the students running the credit union are getting a financial education in dealing with money. “Until I came out here, I did not realize the impact we had. We are so happy to be here,” he said.
Principal Becky Stone said the idea for the in-school credit union came from a phone call she made soliciting help back in the spring. “This all began with a telephone call begging for support for the Spring fling,” she said.
Stone said the credit union management worked with the school and the students to bring the in-school credit union to life. “We’re proud to partner with Y-12,” she said.
The principal said the school administration and students were on board from the beginning and enthusiastic about the opportunity. The students had to apply for positions in the credit union and had to provide references. “Every child needed to qualify through the interview process with Y-12,” she said.
The credit union then trained each student on the processes for running the credit union. “We hope this gives students the opportunity to see relevance in their curriculum,” she said. “They’re very excited.”
Stone said the students have been pushed to excel in their academics, and this will encourage them even more. “Our teachers have been working together to create a more relevant curriculum,” she said. “Our big push has been a rigorous curriculum that is relevant to real world situations, and this is a huge step for students to see even our small school is doing big things.”
Mike Cummings was on hand for the ribbon cutting because his daughter Alysha Brewer, 13, is volunteering in the credit union. “It teaches them to be responsible with their money,” he said.
Assistant Schools Director Brian Bell said the credit union in the school will teach one of the most important lessons the students can learn -- those of financial responsibility. “They’ll learn how to open and manage a savings account,” he said. “That’s relevant content and great for our students.”
Y-12 Regional Manager Marsha Smith said she hopes this initiative teaches all the students at the school about financial responsibility and how to manage money. Smith said the students running the credit union spent two days training with the same person who trains their day-to-day tellers. “They’re doing things the way they were trained, and they’re a real credit union,” she said. “We’ll have an advisor to help, but it is run by the students.”
Some of the student credit union employees shared their thoughts about why they volunteered to work with the Royal Treasury Credit Union.
Jennifer Bentz, 12, said she likes volunteering around school and in the community. “This is something different, so I wanted to try it out,” she said.
Leah Delaney, 13, said it was a good opportunity. “I like dealing with people, and I’m good with numbers,” she said.
Rebekah Warner, 13, saw it as an opportunity to help people save money. “A lot of people spend money and don’t save anything. When they get older, they don’t have any so they need to start early,” she said.
Kayla Dennison, 14, echoed Rebekah. “I thought it would be an opportunity to help others save for the future.”
Cassie Ogle, 11, coined the new credit union’s name. “I thought it was a good name for the credit union,” she said.
Daniel Price, 12, said being part of the credit union is good experience. “It can help you later in life. It can go on a résumé if you want to be a banker,” he said.