Students get to staff their own credit union branch at Unaka, keep the interest and the financial experience

John Thompson • Mar 1, 2019 at 9:00 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The mission of high school is to prepare students for the future.


On their way, those youngsters go through standard classwork to learn the ins and outs of history, mathematics, science and much more. Schools are also teaching them good health and physical education.

But at one local school, the students are also learning how to keep their financial condition in good shape.

To check out this educational addition, several members of Carter County’s legislative delegations to Nashville and Washington took time after Friday’s Carter County Legislative Breakfast at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton to make a short trip up the Stoney Creek Highway to Unaka High School for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a branch bank.

This isn’t a branch bank for teachers to deposit their paychecks, although that was the very reason the sponsoring Northeast Community Credit Union was founded. It’s a student-staffed branch of the credit union, designed to familiarize students with the proper way to handle money and to provide hands-on learning experiences.

It’s just the second one east of Nashville in Tennessee.

U.S. Rep Phil Roe told the students there’s a real need to learn the skills of safeguarding earnings.

He said student loans are easy to get now, but that doesn’t mean they should be overused. He said many students have debt of $100,000 or $200,000 because of student loans. Young people may not be able to purchase a home because of their debt load, Roe told them.

Roe also told the students that when they receive a credit card application in the mail, the best thing to do is throw it in the trash.

The branch will be open two days a week for two hours each of those days.

While the branch is designed to teach financial literacy to high schoolers, the state has also been working to promote financial literacy in the elementary grades, thanks to Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard and Elizbethton East Side Elementary teacher Christy Malone through a statewide online financial literacy program.

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