20 years of priceless lessons

Published December 8, 2015

The year was 1993, and politicians and educators all over Oregon were asking the question: How could they prepare high schoolers for the workforce?

Amid a din of ideas, Cori Frauendiener and Carol Kilfoil came up with a plan.

Frauendiener, a former educator who worked for Maps Credit Union, and Kilfoil, a teacher at North Salem High School, were invited to open a Maps branch at an area high school. Students in business classes would run the operation and learn financial and work skills along the way.

“We’re not trying to make them bankers,” Kilfoil said of the concept. “We’re giving them business and employability skills.”

By 1995, Frauendiener and Kilfoil had transformed their idea into reality, opening a student-operated branch of Maps at North Salem High School.

Since then, hundreds of students have worked not only at Maps’ North Salem branch, but also at the Maps branches that opened at West Salem and McKay high schools.

Maps’ education branches have won attention and accolades from educators and businesses alike. Frauendiener and Kilfoil have fielded calls from all over the country, presented the model at conferences, and helped other credit unions launch similar branches in their communities.

The program was recognized by the Northwest Credit Union Association and, this year – the program’s 20th anniversary – Salem-Keizer Public Schools named Maps its November Business Partner of the Month.

“It speaks to the needs of students and enriches their education,” Frauendiener said of the education branches’ success. “It gives students tools – like time management, accountability and leadership – for their future careers.” Students must pass a thorough application process to get into the program.

Every applicant must submit attendance records, grades and recommendations from teachers. Then they’re interviewed by students who already work at their school’s branch.

Once admitted, students study marketing and financial literacy, and practice time management, problem solving and customer service. Then, under the guidance of Maps staffers, student tellers work in the high school branches, which are laid out similar to the credit union’s branches in the community.

West Salem’s Titan branch, for example, features a row of teller stations, Maps collateral and all the compliance signs required by law. Student tellers can do more than cash checks at the school branches. They also can deposit paychecks and order debit cards. Students with more experience can apply for paid internships at a Maps branch.

During a recent lunch shift at West Salem High, the staff of the branch all said they were grateful for the chance to work there.

Sophomore Jamie Vo said working for the branch has helped her better understand what she’s learning in her accounting class.

Senior Brandon Newstrom said it has taught him many of the skills he’ll need after high school.

And senior Kelsie Meithof said it has made school more meaningful. “It’s like one big family,” she said of her classmates at the branch. “If anyone needs anything, we help each other.”

The schools’ credit union members – who include teachers as well as students – like the education branches because they’re convenient.

Plus, they like knowing who’s handling their money. “It’s cool they’re all students,” West Salem junior Austin Adler said of the branch staffers at his school. “They can keep my money safe.”