YT-Rhinelander: Students Learn Real World Lessons in Finance

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Credit unions across the state are opening small branches within high schools and Rhinelander is lucky enough to have one.

"I was hired the end of freshman year, so I've been here two and a half years now," said Thomas Mckenzie, a senior.

Mckenzie and Katlin Treuer, a junior, are typical teenagers, but their jobs are unconventional for students. They're tellers at the Ripco Credit Union Student Branch at Rhinelander High School.

The high school Ripco branch is a full service credit union. Members can cash checks, withdraw money or make a deposit.

Nestled into a tight corner next to the cafeteria, the credit union is open twice a week during the lunch hour. The tellers take care of other students, staff and anyone else who needs to do some banking.

"The kids really get a lot out of it," said Diane Sowinski, Ripco's vice president of marketing and business development. "Our student tellers are getting wonderful real life experience, they're seeing some relevance in their education and how it pertains to their life after high school."

Even though the small branch can't financially support itself, Sowinski says the life lessons taught to students makes it worthwhile and not only for the tellers who are gaining valuable work experience, but for those who need a lesson in money management.

"Budgeting and making sure you spend your money wisely is a very big problem because a lot of kids do not like to save money," Mckenzie said.

Sowinski agrees, adding that having a visible branch in the school is an advantage for the credit union and students.

"They're getting a better understanding of the importance of saving, of of how their financial responsibility is going to connect with the rest of their lives," she said.

Since the high school branch opened in 2009, two student tellers have stayed with the Ripco Credit Union after graduation.


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