1. How did the creating the "Tiger Branch" happen? In other words, who had the idea, who were the main people that got the ball rolling. Tell me about the planning stages etc.
We began researching the possibility of the student-led branch in late 2015. Mr. Sparks, principal at RBHS, approached us about the opportunity after Scott Wiginton, Director of the Franklin County Career Tech Center, had reached out to him. Mr. Wiginton has been working countywide to promote financial literacy and on the job experience for our area students, so early on we met with Mr. Sparks and Mr. Wiginton and began discussing the concept.
Then began our due diligence process and that took us a few months. We really wanted to take the time to research other bank/school partnerships across Alabama and see what was successful. We evaluated just a counter or smaller operation, but after visiting another in-school branch, we felt Red Bay should have something we could all be proud of. This led to further discussions with school officials and the board of education working toward a partnership to close in the breezeway area of the school. While we were already on site for the construction, this was a prime opportunity to give better security to the school in general. (All aspects of the student branch are paid from leasehold improvements the bank will make on the campus.)
After receiving approval from our Board of Directors as well as regulators at the State of Alabama and FDIC we were ready to start breaking ground.
We are grateful to the Franklin County School Superintendent, School Board and Red Bay School Administration for giving us this opportunity.
2. From the time ground was broken until it is up and fully operational, what has been the biggest challenge from your end so far?
Our biggest challenge was the process required to establish the branch. Regulators at the State and FDIC had to concur with the establishment of the branch. Since this is not a true branch of the Bank, but rather one that is for financial literacy of the students, it didn’t have as much ‘red tape’ but still had to have their concurrence. So we did have some delay while we were waiting for that.
Following those approvals there was a variety of discussions on the size of the building and the logistics of tying the two buildings together, while creating a safe environment for the kids. We would have loved to have done the work over the summer, but things just didn’t fall into place. We disliked having to have the students displaced for a few weeks at the beginning of construction, but McNeil Construction did a great job of causing as little disruption as possible for the staff and students. We thank them for their patience and think all would agree the improvements made were a great asset for the school campus.
3. When is the projected open date?
The Tiger Branch will open January 17, 2017. A ribbon cutting will be held to kick off the big day and branch operations will commence later than morning.
4. Once the Tiger Branch is open, what will the hours of operation be?
The branch will operate 9:40 – 10:30 each school day. This will encompass the students break time and also have it available to the elementary students as they begin their lunch rotation. We are looking forward to other opportunities and times to utilize the branch for class visits, financial education sessions and more! We will be working with the teachers to accommodate their schedules and take full advantage of the new facility.
5. What all services will the Tiger Branch provide? (opening checking accounts, cashing checks, etc.)
Traditional banking products will be available to Red Bay students and teachers only, as the Tiger Branch will not be open to the general public, (per Section 303.46 of the FDIC Rules and Regulations). Students will be able to open checking and savings accounts, make deposits into their accounts, transfer money between their accounts, cash checks and make withdrawals.
In addition to the valuable money management skills students will learn, our Tiger Tellers will gain a first-hand learning experience on how to work together, interact with customers and adapt to real-world situations.
All Red Bay students, faculty and staff will be eligible to visit the Tiger Branch for their limited banking transactions. We hope to utilize it to further financial education to all grades elementary through senior high.
6. Who is over the Tiger Branch? (Teacher)
Mrs. Sarah Hardin, Business Education teacher for RBHS will be the facilitating teacher over the branch. She will oversee the students while the branch operates each day. We thank Sarah for her cooperation and willingness to take on additional responsibilities to make this project a success.
7. Tell me about the training the student tellers did.
The Tiger Tellers came to CSB main office for a week in December of intense training 2 hours each day. It included details of how the Tiger Branch will operate, policies and procedures that must be followed, and included practice scenarios. The hands-on scenarios gave the students a chance to demonstrate what they had learned, as well as gave them practice creating tickets, posting to daily journals and balancing their cash drawers to their journals at the end of each day. These are great skills that will help them in their careers and also in their own personal finances.
8. Who are the student tellers and when will they work? Will it be a rotation? Is it part of a class?
The Tiger Tellers were chosen from a group of students referred to us by the school. If interested in the position, they had to submit a resume to the bank by a certain deadline. This process provided the students the opportunity to know what it is like to apply and interview for a job. After interviewing 18 students, 10 students were selected. The students were chosen based on some of the following guidelines: friendliness, dependability, cognitive reasoning, first impression, work availability, ability to express ideas, professionalism, character, integrity, and general experience. The decision was difficult due to the quality of each student applying for the positions.
Two tellers have been assigned to work each day, giving the tellers the opportunity to work one day a week. The Tiger Branch will be open during the high school break and will extend 30 minutes into their following period. Most of the students have their business class in that period following the break, allowing them a type of lab for their classwork. They will not be paid, but will receive volunteer hours to add to their college resumes. The following students were chosen: Logan Brooks, Colton Corum, Abbey Jones, Krista Lindsay, Abby Montgomery, Emma Russell, Brooke Shewbart, Gath Weatherford, Anna Wilemon, and Matthew Williams. They will be led by Mrs. Sarah Hardin.
9. Anything I have left out that is important, you can add. You may know or think of something important I didn't ask that needs to be included.
We are extremely excited to go live with the Tiger Branch. We have been making an investment in financial literacy in our communities for several years now. Partnering with the EverFi Financial Literacy Platform since 2013, to date we have reached 2,117 students, completing 16,628 financial education modules, equating to about 12,000 hours of financial study. We believe the student/teacher led Tiger Branch will further instill real life examples of what they are already experiencing in the EverFi Money$mart program.
Some have asked about the closing off of the breezeway in regard to parking on the west side of the school on football weekends. The school has purchased some additional doors that can be closed in order to block entrance into the school, while still allowing people to utilize the doors in the new breezeway construction to go between buildings. If they so choose the breezeway can remain open and the school closed off.
10. And a direct quote.
“Community Spirit Bank is a 108 year old financial institution and has a long history of investing back to the communities in which we serve. Our mission as a community financial institution is to develop and serve our communities, customers and employees with a caring attitude offering stability, integrity and fairness. On behalf of the officers, directors and employees of Community Spirit Bank, we are excited to add this location where students can lead and demonstrate the same “community spirit” of their Tiger Branch, as we attempt to provide each day! We thank all those involved, the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Wiginton, Mr. Sparks, former principal Jeff Madden, the school board members, and Mike Shewbart for the cooperation and appreciation of our investment. Shane McNeil, of McNeil Construction and his staff for all their hard work in making this branch a reality. And thanks to our own Mike Montgomery who oversaw the construction process on behalf of the bank, Emily Mays for overall project management and Charri Lindsay for teller operation implementation.”
– Brad M. Bolton, President/CEO, Community Spirit Bank
Community Spirit Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC.