A lesson they can bank on

Worthington pupils learning hands-on how to save money

December 22, 2004|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

They might not be old enough to open their own savings accounts without help from Mom or Dad, but Worthington Elementary School pupils already have learned the important lesson of saving money.

That's because, for the past 10 years, the school has had a partnership with Columbia Bank that enables the children to learn about saving with real accounts and meetings with bank representatives.

"This just shows them how important it is to save," said Jane Sims, assistant principal at the school, who oversees the program at Worthington with school counselor Milene Pettit.

"Some of them say they are saving for when they get married, and others say they're saving for toys," Sims said.

The bank savings program is open to first- through fifth-graders, and pupils serve as tellers during banking sessions that occur twice monthly.

The young tellers are chosen based on essays describing why they would like to serve in the position; bank representatives and Pettit provide training. Four tellers are selected from each grade.

The bank accounts must be opened with the permission of a parent or guardian. No fees are charged, and there is no minimum monthly deposit for the children, said Stan Wladkowski, manager of the Long Gate branch of Columbia Bank.

"We are planting the seeds now so that they will be responsible when they hit the teenage years," said Wladkowski, who added that the bank has similar partnerships with other Howard County schools. "By being disciplined, they can see how the [savings] balance grows."

Pupils in grades three, four and five are working on personalized mock checkbooks this year, and lessons on saving have been incorporated into the language arts and math curricula, Sims said.

She added that the about 100 pupils who participate in the program were asked to write about the importance of saving money and how a bank can help a person accomplish that goal.

Some fourth-graders appear to be well on their way to becoming good savers.

"I learned that saving money is better than spending it right away," said Alex Krynski.

Added Kira Miller: "If your house gets robbed, you might lose your money, but if a bank gets robbed, you'll have your money because [the bank has insurance for your money]."

Jennifer McCarthy said: "If you keep your money, there's a chance you'll lose it. But if you let the bank take care of it, it'll be safe."

Emmy McKissick offered these words of advice: "If you keep your money in an account, you won't be tempted to spend it."

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