Fifth grader Connor Kelley works diligently writing down names and deposits.

As a new customer arrives, Kelley prepares himself.

“Hi, welcome to Pinnacle Bank. Sorry for the wait, how may I help you?” he says.

Kelley and two of his classmates started their first days as tellers at St. Paul School with the kickoff of Bank In Schools this week.

Beginning this week, Beatrice’s financial institutions have begun teaming up with the city’s six elementary schools for the Bank In Schools program to teach the value of saving.

The banks will be open at the schools once a week for 30 minutes before schools starts.

“We just hope the kids begin to understand the importance of having that money available for them to use and to really understand how it works, the whole idea of fiscal responsibility,” Beatrice Public Schools Director of Curriculum and Assessment Jackie Nielsen said.

The financial instructions approached the public and private schools last spring with the idea. Columbus and Lincoln have similar programs with banks in their schools.

“Teaching children how to save and be fiscally responsible is really what our gain is,” Beatrice Pinnacle Bank Vice President Andrea Schafer said. “Obviously, we are getting new accounts, but we are trying to teach the children the importance of saving.”

Each student who opens up a savings account will receive a $5 voucher from the school’s partner bank to add to the student’s account.

Student teller Lauren Moon said she has learned a lot by opening up an account and being a teller.

“I’ve been learning about mathematics and how to talk to people better,” Moon said. “You need to say ‘hi, can I help you and thank you’ and you need to use your manners.”

Moon plans to save her money for college or a laptop.

Financial literacy has become a large part of the K-12 social studies standards now in the state of Nebraska.

Nielsen said the Bank In Schools program is one other way the schools are helping to meet those standards.

Students are allowed to withdraw money from their accounts, but the school and the banks would prefer the students build their accounts.

“This is an opportunity for every student, “ Nielsen said. “If I bring a penny every week to deposit, I am a penny richer every week. It doesn’t matter what you have. It is just about contributing and saving more money.”

The banks will treat each student like a normal customer paying their normal interest rates and sending out statements.

Bank personnel will also be available to teachers who want them to speak with their classes.

“We are really excited to be part of it and hope that it continues to progress as the year goes on and all of the students and all of the schools have great success trying to teach them,” Schafer said.

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