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GO BLACK KNIGHTS BRANCH!

This time of year has many of us feeling hometown pride. With Harvest time and Fall Festivals, Homecoming Games and celebrations, and all of those grand traditions that get our colors flying, it's easy to get swept away with the local school spirit roaring through our small town streets.

"Schools need to teach these kids how to do real stuff, like hold a job, pay bills, and keep a budget..."

Recently 573 Magazine heard rumors of a particular local high school with a mighty boast. Not only are they preparing their students to thrive in a competitive world, but they are also providing the opportunity for high school students to learn something we all wish we knew when we were younger—money management.



Managing finances is an essential skill necessary for keeping a budget and growing one's assets. How often have you heard some variation of, "Schools need to teach these kids how to do real stuff, like hold a job, pay bills, and keep a budget..." Well, good news, someone is trying to fix that problem.



First State Community Bank, a community bank headquartered in Farmington, came up with an ingenious solution. Located within Farmington High School is the First State Community Bank Black Knight Branch—Black Knight, the school's sports mascot. The Black Knight Branch is an all-student-run, full-service bank inside the school. This provides students a safe environment to learn about personal money management by completing transactions. Students pursuing finance or business career paths get an opportunity to gain real-world, on-the-job experience by working at or helping to run the bank. Even better, real FSCB bankers are guiding the students in their Mentor Program to lend financial wisdom to the participating students.

The Black Knight Branch is an all-student-run, full-service bank inside the school.

573 Magazine had to know more, so we headed to the Black Knight Branch to meet the high school bankers and a few of our friends from First State Community Bank.



DANA CORCORAN

Club and Community Coordinator, First State Community Bank


In 2006, First State Community Bank opened a new chapter in banking services and community involvement by partnering with the Farmington School District to create a hands-on educational program designed to give students real world business experience while teaching them various financial management matters.

The students are trained and then expected to perform their tasks upon receiving their job title.

First State Community Bank’s Black Knight Branch is a student-operated bank located in the Farmington High School. Six seniors from the high school are chosen to fill the positions of a customer service representative or a teller. The students are trained and then expected to perform their tasks upon receiving their job title.



Job titles correlate with a mentor at the Main Bank on Columbia street in Farmington. There is a President, Vice president/Public Relations, VP/Marketing, Chief Financial officer, Security Officer/Branch Operations and a Board Secretary. These Mentors help the student bankers hold BKB Branch Board Meetings. They call meetings to order, take minutes, give the financials of the bank and security updates.


Student Bankers learn a lot of how a bank works during the school year. After their term is over and they graduate they can work at one of the 3 other branches in Farmington over the summer or even over holiday breaks.


High school seniors applied for the positions, with the chosen students serving as tellers and customer service representatives as well as board members, supervised by a full time bank employee. The group of students undergoes extensive training during the summer to prepare them for their new positions. The ribbon cutting for the new bank, located in the high school foyer, was held on August 21, 2006. Each year since, new students are chosen from the senior class, based on eligibility.



The Black Knight Branch held the honor of being the first high school bank in Missouri, as well as the fourth in the nation. The branch has been working with the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank to serve as a model for other high school banks. The banking hours of the Black Knight Branch are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., when school is in session on full days.

By the end of the school year they exude such confidence in their abilities...

The best part of having the BKB branch is how the kids change before the mentors eyes. When first hired they are a little timid, sometimes shy. By the end of the school year they exude such confidence in their abilities as a banker and as a person!


DONNA MILLER

Branch Manager, First State Community Bank - Black Knight Branch


A former 2nd Grade teacher at Farmington School, Donna has served the school district for 32 years and counting. After going through 2 months of teller training at the Main Farmington Branch of First State Community Bank, Donna took on the position of Branch Manager at the Black Knight Branch in fall of 2020.


I am a mother to 5 adult children and a grandmother to 2 beautiful red-headed granddaughters. I have lived in Farmington since the age of 4. I’m involved in my church. I love to read and travel. I am also an avid St. Louis Cardinals Baseball fan.

It is very rewarding to see them grow so much as people.

Managing the Black Knight Branch is a lot like teaching. I get to train the students during the summer, but the entire school year is a teaching opportunity. We discuss professionalism, customer service, confidentiality etc. I feel like it is a perfect job for me as a retired teacher. Once we get things running, I am able to stand back and watch the students run the bank. It is very rewarding to see them grow so much as people.


Working with an all student staff keeps me young. I am able to keep up with all of the latest trends. I have to remember that they are high school students. Sometimes that takes patience. Sometimes it takes being a listening ear. Sometimes it requires being firm. Sometimes it is just stopping to be a little silly. I feel like the relationships that I develop with the students though will last for a lifetime.

It is very rewarding to teach the next generation about money management. At the beginning of the year students have a very different view of finances than they do at the end of the year. It is exciting to see them grow in the knowledge of how to handle personal finances.


CADENCE

President, First State Community Bank - Black Knight Branch


Cadence has learned a great deal under her mentor, Matt Sebastian, and is well on her way to success in money management serving as Bank President at the Black Knight Branch.



At the bank we have many responsibilities, the first being a teller. We handle money transactions, such as cash and check deposits, cashing checks, change orders, etc. Next we have our individual duties that are parallel to the job we have. Mine, for example, is President of Black Knight Branch. This responsibility comes into play when having to lead bank meetings, etc.

So far I have learned that banking is a very social business, and customer service is a main priority! Something else that I learned is Robert's Rule of Order, an important organization skill used in business meetings.



My mentor is Matt Sebastian, President of First State Community Bank. The mentor program is essential to having our board meetings run smoothly. We did teller training over the summer, and now we have to train to become the best at our board positions. During my mentor meeting, Matt Sebastian greatly helped me understand Robert's Rules of Order, and he taught me the responsibility of running the meeting and what items are important to go on our agenda.

During my mentor meeting, Matt Sebastian greatly helped me understand Robert's Rules of Order, and he taught me the responsibility of running the meeting...

I am pursuing a career in some form of business, so I know that having this understanding of financial matters will greatly help. I understand loans, interest, savings versus checking accounts, much better than before which will be important to me having my own business.


MATT SEBASTIAN

President, First State Community Bank


Cadence’s mentor and President of First State Community Bank, Matt Sebastian knows the banking game well, and is set to lead the next generation of bankers and business leaders into financial victory.


In our mentor program we have six high school seniors that are part of the Black Knight Branch. They get selected before and then assigned to a position based on their skills and interests. We have 6 different positions within that branch. We have a Vice President of Public Relations and Vice President of Marketing. We have a Board Secretary. We have a CFO. And we have the Security Officer/Branch Operations.



Those positions are held with a real banker who has responsibility for those in the bank. So they learn from us and they come and we sit out and talk to them for an hour. It gives them the opportunity to learn what goes on in a real bank and how to function as a real bank. And an opportunity to understand the overall of finance and money management.

It gives them the opportunity to learn what goes on in a real bank and how to function as a real bank.

The future of finance is looking pretty rich in Farmington. As for the future of Black Knight Branch, new and exciting changes are on the horizon so be on the lookout for more coming soon. In the meantime...


GET OUT THERE!


words by aj koehler

pics by t. smugala


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