“I can remember back when I was in high school, I would ask ‘Why are we learning this? How will this affect me in real life? When will I ever use this?,’” says Jason Warren, principal of Greenville High School. “Kids today are no different, but what I’ve discovered as an educator is the more you can apply what kids are learning to real-life situations, the higher their interest and the better they retain that knowledge.”
Student-Run Bank Branch Example of Greenville Commitment to Lifelong Learning
Greenville High School program gives students on-the-job experience running a real credit union branch
Learning by Doing
This understanding led Warren to partner with Greenville Federal Credit Union in 2016 to establish the city’s only student-run bank branch, The Branch at Greenville High, housed inside the high school.
“When you have something like the credit union, it answers all those questions for them, because everything that they are learning and have learned in school — from soft skills to math skills to the way they write and speak to others — are being used. It is real life,” Warren says.
Warren says students who participate in the program are trained to become full employees of the credit union. They complete paid training with the credit union’s human resources department over the summer and learn to operate the same software and perform the same functions employees at other branches do.
“One of the major benefits of this program is that we're producing graduates with soft skills that they can take to any company. I think you'll find when you talk to business leaders nowadays about what they need in a graduate, they say it is soft skills. So not only will there will be more graduates coming out [of Greenville High School] with those skills, but these skills have been taught at a higher level,” he says.
Warren says the benefits are mutual; Greenville Federal Credit Union gets access to potential new members as well as future employees and it benefits from “the fact that these students who work here are able to educate our school community at large about the benefits of a local community credit union.”
He says the credit union is just one of the many community partners invested in the success of the school system.
Greenville Business and Education Leaders Work Together to Strengthen Schools
“Without those types of partnerships — whether that's our partnerships with our parent organizations, which consistently win major awards from across the state, or whether that's our partnerships with businesses that are providing opportunities for our students to gain employment or internships — schools alone would never be able to provide those experiences for a student. Those partnerships are what make us so strong,” he says.
That spirit of community cooperation and commitment to education is one of the reasons the Jacksonville, FL, native chose to settle in Greenville after graduating from Bob Jones University nearly 20 years ago.
“I followed my brother to Greenville for college and just fell in love with the city,” he says. “As a resident, you can't beat the way that everyone works together. It is not a city, and a council, and a school board disagreeing and fighting on issues. They are all working together on how can we make sure our schools are supporting what our businesses need, and our businesses are thinking how they can support our schools. It is just all part of that same mindset that I feel everyone has here to make Greenville the best place possible.”