- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Fifth-grader Layla Carman knows how it feels to land a job.

She was one of 12 students picked to work as a bank teller at the new First National Bank student branch now open at Edison Elementary in Council Bluffs.

“I’m very excited,” Layla said on Thursday morning after the bank officially opened for business. “I didn’t know it was going to be this big of a deal.”

The Daily Nonpareil (https://bit.ly/2iF3me5 ) reports Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh, the Area Chamber of Commerce and the C.B. Ambassadors attended the ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

“This is businesses giving back to educating students to become employers in the community,” Walsh said.

Layla was offered the job of bank teller after submitting an application and participating in an interview process through the school and the bank that drew 26 other applicants.

“We got to go to the First National Bank tower, and we practiced our handwriting and we practiced counting money,” Layla said.

The student bank is one of two branches to open this week in the Council Bluffs Community School District. American National Bank also opened a student bank branch at Carter Lake Elementary on Tuesday.

With the two new additions, the district now has a total of nine bank branches open and partners with five different bank institutions in its schools. The district anticipates it will partner with TS Bank to open its 10th student bank branch at College View Elementary in the fall.

The student banks are part of a district-wide effort to promote financial literacy through the hands-on experience of opening and contributing to a real-life savings account.

“I wanted to partner with our schools to really help our youth,” First National Bank branch manager Dee Oliver said. “That’s the most important thing, if you can teach children to save at a young age, you can change their life potentially.”

Students can choose to open a savings account after a parent or guardian signs a permission slip. They’re then able to make weekly deposits into the account during the hours the bank is open. Money can only be withdrawn if a student moves away from the school or at the end of fifth-grade when students move onto middle school.

By opening an account at an early age, students get to watch their savings grow over their elementary career, Carter Lake Principal Doreen Knuth said.

“I think you can’t start too early with this,” Knuth said. “There’s lots of economic woes in our society, and there’s always a cause for early literacy - and that includes early financial literacy. The sooner a student learns the habit of saving, the more it would carry on into adulthood.”

Edison fourth-grader Nathan Anderson was the first student to open a savings account Thursday. He deposited $5 because his mom made him open a savings account, he said.

“I don’t like saving,” Nathan added.

But, he said, he loves to buy toys and games.

The district hopes that by opening these student bank branches in schools that students like Nathan will learn the best way to buy things, like toys and games, is by learning how to save money.

“If you can save up for something and purchase it, then there’s nothing to worry about, like making payments down the line,” Edison Principal Mike Naughton said. “Students really need to understand that at an early age because, if we can set them up with the right skills, then they’ll practice financial literacy.”

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, https://www.nonpareilonline.com

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