LARGO, Fla.- Thanks to Pinellas County Teachers Credit Union, Northeast High School has opened its first credit union branch. The totally student-run Viking branch serves as the centerpiece of NEHI’s Center of Finance, a career program that prepares students for jobs in the financial arena. “It is a school within a school and a dream come true,” said Finance Academy Director Debbie Fischer. Students enrolled in the Center follow a specialized curriculum of regular academics plus financial electives and hands-on work experience in the branch. The project has been two long years in the making says Fischer. Since learning to “keep moving forward when you hear the word no” Fischer turned to the $406 million credit union after being unable to find a business partner willing to support the idea. According to PCTCU Vice President of Marketing Sally Rodgers, the partnership was just a natural. “Service to the school system builds on our heritage,” said Rodgers. “Also it is just as valuable for the credit union as it is for the students because they are our future members.” “This partnership has been such a joy,” said Fischer. “Every employee brings their own enthusiasm to the project.” Since January, credit union staffers began visiting the school to teach students about the financial industry. In March credit union representatives from individual departments such as auditing, accounting and member services provided students with more in-depth subject training. “Their minds are like steel traps,” said PCTCU Quality Assurance Manager Gina Signor. ” I’ve been trying to get away from calling them kids. They are young adults. That is how they conduct themselves.” During summer break students started on-the-job training at PCTCU branches, to have some practical experience in their specific jobs. Students assisted members, processed transactions, created a marketing plan and more. The branch is open during lunch periods to anyone with a NEHI identification card and offers checking and savings accounts and ATMs. NEHI has a student population of 2,200 and teaching/support staff of 120. [email protected]

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