EL DORADO, Ark. (10/11/19) — Students at Retta Brown Elementary are learning how to save, budget and even write checks through a financial literacy program provided by Simmons Bank.
The partnership is an initiative the bank chain has implemented for several years. The El Dorado bank visits elementary students in Parkers Chapel and Strong.
“It’s very important that children at a very early age understand the money basics,” Rob Robinson with Simmons Bank said.
With the financial literacy lessons, students get to take that information and utilize it in their Retta store.
The store includes a variety of school supplies and friendship bracelets. It even contains items like a soothing spa and Bluetooth radio. Students purchase items they need and if they save up enough, they can buy items they want.
The students are granted “Retta Bucks” as a reward for perfect attendance throughout the week, academic achievement, good behavior and even parent participation at parent/teacher conferences.
Students said they are stacking up big with the lessons they’ve learned about saving. One student had almost $500 bucks.
“You have no idea how long she’s been saving,” 4th grade student, Alisa Perkins said.
Administrators believe the fun and educational incentive has changed the atmosphere of the school.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Perkins said. “It teaches us how when we’re grown we’re going to start having to save money instead of buying everything right away.”
After the second semester, 4th graders like Perkins have to put the Retta bucks away and learn how to write and manage a checkbook.
“They need to know how to do that,” Program Coordinator, Karen White said. “At some point in time, they will write a check and they need to understand what that means.”
Program goes beyond money management and accountability, students are learning how to behave inside and outside of the classroom.
“It’s really kind of challenged students to be kind and to be on task and to do what is expected of them,” School Principal, Bethanie Hale said. “It’s really brought a positive atmosphere in our school.”
Tellers at Simmons bank teach the lessons to the students. Employees believe being involved with the community is important.
“I’m proud that Simmons bank invests in these kids,” White said. “You can’t go wrong when you invest in kids.”