When she first accepted the job as a part-time community relations representative at LUSO Federal Credit Union, Kimberly Anderson admitted she didn’t know much about the world of credit unions.
LUSO’s CFO Sharon Dufour had told her about the job while the two were at their children’s soccer practice. Anderson liked how the position involved working with the school system and afforded her time to spend with her children during the summer.
But what started as a part-time job became a position that would lead Anderson and Dufour to help coordinate over 110 junior achievement financial literacy classes for approximately 1,900 students at seven elementary and middle schools.
In addition, the two run a weekly school banking program for these same students.
Part of Anderson’s work involves facilitating LUSO’s banking program at the seven schools in Wilbraham, Hampden and Ludlow, where LUSO sets up bank accounts for students and collects deposits from them periodically to get them in the habit of saving.
The other aspect involves teaching classes in grades K-8 on various personal finance topics.
“The students enjoy the classes because it is something new and important,” Anderson told Banker & Tradesman. “Their eyes widen.”
Topics vary based on age, and Anderson and Dufour also recruit high school students to help out with instruction.
In kindergarten, students are taught how to make positive contributions in their community by doing things such as donating to charity.
In the third grade, students are taught how to write checks, and by eighth grade, they are educated about budgeting money through an economics for success course.
Anderson said she finds it fascinating to see what students do and do not know about personal finance.
“It’s interesting, we teach them about the difference between a debit and credit card. They get that is how you pay for things. But they don’t get concept,” Anderson said.
“And nobody knows how to write a check anymore,” she added jokingly.
However, it is this progression – whether it’s students accumulating savings through LUSO’s banking program, or learning the difference between various banking products – that makes it all worth it.
“Kids are extremely smart today and seem to get everything they are being taught in school, but it’s fun to go into second grade and talk to them about taxes,” Anderson said. “It’s very engaging for kids; the little concepts are the things they will take with them from now until they are adults.”