Dylan says he enjoys doing business at the bank, but he acknowledges the hours are abysmal – Good Shepherd Savings, run out of the Good Shepherd School library in Airdrie, is open only one day a week over the lunch hour.
Since October, the Airdrie school has been operating a bank, run by students in Grades 6 to 8 who work as tellers, bank employees or on the bank’s board of directors.
The operation, including the hiring of tellers and the board’s monthly meetings, is supervised by the branch manager of the local ATB Financial.
At Good Shepherd Savings, no deposit amount (or customer) is too small.
“I don’t think we can ever know too much about money or learn about it too early in life,” said ATB CEO Dave Mowat. “That’s what makes Junior ATB such a terrific program. The more Albertans who are financially literate, the better off our province will be as a whole.”
Good Shepherd has joined nine other schools in the province to adopt the program and teachers say they’ve seen a positive change in all the students involved, especially those who are “hired” to work at the bank.
“There’s the confidence that it’s given them, their math skills have improved and they feel like they belong to something greater,” said Good Shepherd math teacher Shelley Gartner.
Students also received training on the importance of privacy and attention to detail while improving their basic math skills.
“It’s teaching them financial literacy (and) it’s showing them how the real world operates. They’re able to come and make a deposit and see their money grow,” Gartner said.
Some 50 depositors at Good Shepherd Savings earn the same interest as most savings accounts, with the added bonus that they don’t pay any fees.
Dylan is still a little iffy on the concept of earning interest, but he’s got the “saving” part of the equation nailed.
The Grade 2 student has saved $40 and on Wednesday he made another $10 deposit in coins.
And with a reliable stream of income from birthday gifts and doting grandparents, Dylan said he expects his savings to grow.
His financial goal is to save enough to see the beluga exhibit when his family visits the Vancouver Aquarium next summer.
His “banker,” Grade 7 student Drew Chorney, believes he’s on the right track.
“Dylan deposits every time I’m here, so I know that him and his brother have deposited lots,” said Drew.
On Wednesday, Airdrie ATB manager Robert Storgard supervised as Drew carefully counted the coins, then issued Dylan a receipt.
“Some of these students employed by Good Shepherd Savings could potentially be employees of mine years down the road,” Storgard said.
But it’s the lessons in money management that Storgard said matter most: “We’re teaching them saving habits. The idea is to prepare them for what is to come.”