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When Saige Stretch became the CEO of the Junior ATB at Calgary’s Connect Charter School this year, she had one extra reason to try to make her mom proud: Liz Stretch is also the Chief People Officer at ATB Financial.
And it seems to have worked.
“She’s learned leadership, she’s learned financial literacy around how a bank account works, and saving, and she’s learned how a branch runs,” Liz said.
“It’s enriched her learning of the financial industry a lot actually. She hears it because I talk about it all the time, but to experience it is such a different perspective for her.”
Saige agrees, and shared something many ATB branch managers often say: that it’s rewarding to listen to customers and clients, hear about what their goals are, and help them get there.
“Seeing more customers come in, more clients, and intriguing them with how easy and simple it is to bank here, has been really fun. And helping them be able to save up for something you want as a kid. Watching them come in, and tell us, this is what I’m saving up for, setting goals, even $2 a week, it does add up,” Saige said.
Junior ATB involves setting up mini, temporary branches in schools across Alberta. Students apply for jobs like teller, back cash, secretary and CEO, and serve their classmates, who sign up as customers and learn about saving. Junior ATB branches are partnered with ATB branches in their schools’ communities, and teachers serve as advisors.
Patrick Tam is a teacher at Connect Charter School, and says it’s been helpful to use Junior ATB to teach real life applications of skills students learn in class.
“The impact on the school is to get the younger kids in grades four and five to really start thinking about money, saving and all of that responsibility and where their savings could pay off later on,” Tam said.
“For the staff members, it gives them a chance to use their math skills and see it actually live somewhere else. It’s a chance to take responsibility, take roles, apply for and interview for jobs, so there’s a level of pride when they get the jobs as well.”
Liz Stretch, as a senior leader at ATB, agrees that Junior ATB is a great way to engage with communities in Alberta.
“For children to understand what it means to have a bank account and a debit card and to be saving at a young age, it gets at some of the unknowns or the scary part about a bank or banking,” Liz said.
“It’s a way to give back. I think it’s a way for ATB to become really involved with the communities through the schools. It’s unique. It’s grassroots.”
As for Saige, she’s worked her way up to serving as CEO and has learned a lot along the way, especially serving in a leadership role this year.
“I’ve learned how it is to run the bank and be a part of it. So if I did want to do something like this in the future, it’s a good opportunity to get this learning experience in now,” Saige said.
“Being a leader means keeping everybody in line as well as being kind and helping everybody out when they need that support.”