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March 5, 2003

Delaware School for the Deaf gets Wilmington Trust branch

From: The News Journal, DE - 05 Mar 2003

Students learn about banking

Bear Bureau reporter

Deposits, withdrawals, interest, savings and statements - the vocabulary of banking.

Students at Margaret S. Sterck School, Delaware School for the Deaf, in Ogletown are getting a chance to master the jargon of high finance and learn everyday money-management skills through a program now being offered at the school.

Once a week, students can deposit their money - whether it be 50 cents or $10 - into their own savings account. A Wilmington Trust bank branch opened at the school last week through the Delaware Bank at School Program.

Shirley Osborne, a parent of two children who attend the Delaware School for the Deaf, helped spearhead the effort to open the bank. She approached Home Depot, which donated materials so parents could build a student teller stand for the bank opening. Interpreters were present to help the deaf students open accounts.

"It's a great program," Osborne said. "The kids are very excited about it. It's nice that they have their own accounts and they don't have to have their parents on it. They can bring in their allowance and save for something they want."

Currently, the students act as junior tellers under the supervision of a banker. Eventually, the goal is to have the children run the bank on their own, Osborne said.

State Treasurer Jack Markell, the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship and the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute worked with banks to open "branch offices" for students to make deposits once a week at schools throughout Delaware.

"It's important to start early," Markell said Tuesday. "We want to do what we can to help prepare students to take care of themselves."

The Delaware Bank at School program, which started with the opening of the first school branch in 1992, teaches students how to manage money and gives them hands-on experience by letting them serve as tellers and open savings accounts at no cost. Now, about 25 schools have a similar program.

"With the age of plastic, online and phone banking and direct deposit, children today rarely see the workings of a bank," Markell said. "The Bank at School program brings a bank to the children and is a critical step in nurturing the ethic of saving."

An Artisans' Bank branch is scheduled to open Thursday at Brader Elementary School, near Newark. More bank openings are planned for spring, and the goal is to expand the program to middle schools.

Delaware high schools already participate in more sophisticated financial programs, such as the Stock Market Game, in which students learn how to invest.

Markell said the Bank at School Program was developed in response to "overwhelming evidence" that the average student who graduates from high school lacks basic financial management skills.

The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a national coalition focused on financial literacy in schools, said many students are unable to balance a checkbook and most simply have no insight into the basic survival principles involved with earning, spending, saving and investing.

The coalition's objective is to ensure that basic personal financial management skills are attained during the K-12 educational experience to avoid financial pitfalls later in life, according to the group's Web site.

Reach Michele Besso at 838-3187 or at

Copyright ©2003, The News Journal.