First Community Bank is now open for business at Elmore County High School with the students running the show. It's a first for the county.
The Panther Branch takes the learning experience out of the classroom. Rather than Monopoly money, the dough is the real deal.
It will operate like any normal bank. Faculty and students are able to do their banking, such as open an account and make transactions including deposits and even loans, on campus.
Six students will handle the transactions with one bank employee helping.
"This opens up an opportunity for our students to come in, open up a bank account and learn how to balance a checkbook. Some common sense things that we all deal with in the day-to-day life," said Principal Wes Rogers.
Morgan Tew is a senior at the high school and is employed by First Community Bank, serving as one of the tellers.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for students to be able to come in and learn everything about how banking works, transactions and accounts. I have a membership at another bank, but I still didn't know anything about what I know now working in all of this. Some of the students too have said that they have learned so much from this program and they already had an account at another bank," Tew said.
Tew says because of the program she now knows she wants to go into the finance field once she graduates.
According to organizers, that's another reason why the bank was created. They say it serves as more than just an educational experience.
"Young people are learning real world skills here, as far as what's going to be out there in the marketplace. They are learning skills that are going to allow them to be equipped to function from a financial standpoint. Maybe some of them will be a feeder system to come on and work at First Community Bank in the future. We will know that they have received the proper training and that they are equipped," said Michael Morgan, the President and CEO of First Community Bank in Eclectic.
Leaders hope to expand the program down the road by creating a dual enrollment program. Once the students complete the course and work, they will leave with a credential to take out to the workforce.