Tyler Harrison knows more about mortgages than the average high school student.
Harrison, a senior at John Marshall High School, spends one class period a day working as a teller at a credit union branch. He doesn't have to go far to get to work — the newly opened branch is located in the Oklahoma City school.
Tinker Federal Credit Union opened the branch at the school Monday. It is staffed by eight student interns and can handle any of the functions of a normal bank branch, including withdrawals, deposits and loan applications.
The branch is open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays. The branch is only open to students, parents and district employees, school Principal Aspasia Carlson said.
Students staffing the branch went through a week of training in the summer, Harrison said. That training began with relatively simple things such as giving and receiving cash, and moved into more advanced territory including mortgage payments, he said.
“They've treated me well,” he said. “I thought it was going to be harder than it was.”
Opening the branch is a part of the school's finance academy, Carlson said. It is a program designed to give students specialized training and experience in career areas.
Four other high schools in the district offer similar academies: engineering at Capitol Hill, information technology at Oklahoma Centennial, hospitality at Star Spencer and engineering and health sciences at Northeast.
Having the branch on campus helps the school connect interested students with a place to work more easily, Carlson said. The school also can direct academy students to businesses in the area for similar internships, she said, but having a working credit union branch on site is a more convenient option.
The idea behind the branch is to give students practical experience that they can turn into a career after high school. When the students in the program graduate, they'll have banking experience on their resume, which would give them more options than they might have otherwise.
The branch isn't the first of its kind, said Matt Stratton, the credit union's senior vice president of marketing. The credit union opened a similar branch at Crooked Oak High School in January, he said, and also operates a branch at Metro Technology Center's Springlake Campus.
Stratton said he hopes the branch gives the students an opportunity to see how a financial institution works. Their time working at the branch leaves them with knowledge and experience that could make them attractive candidates for jobs at Tinker or another credit union or bank.
“They'll have the same kinds of duties that a teller would anywhere else,” he said.