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SIXTH GRADERS STAFF TELLER WINDOWS, SAFE DEPOSIT AREA AND OTHER POSTS DURING SIGNAL BANK'S INNOVATIVE 'BANKER FOR A DAY' PROGRAM

School-Business Partnership Motivates 12-Year-Olds From West St. Paul To

Focus In The Classroom By Having Them Experience 'Real World' Jobs

/ADVANCE/MINNEAPOLIS, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- "I think I would make a good teller because I always try to make people feel comfortable," says Katie Schmidt, a sixth grader taking part in the innovative "Banker for a Day" program. "If people don't feel comfortable, they can always go somewhere else," she explained during her interview for a teller position at Signal Bank's main office in West St. Paul. "I'd make sure they have a reason to come back."

Katie, along with 43 of her classmates from Moreland Elementary School, are responsible for helping customers with a wide variety of bank transactions, ranging from operating the drive-up teller window to opening new accounts, from 9 a.m. to noon today at the bank's Signal Hills location, marking the second successful year of this creative school-business partnership.

"The enthusiasm shown by the students and the bank associates is incredible," says Alisha Rindal, assistant vice president of marketing for Signal Bank. "We are excited to be involved in a program that has a positive impact on the young members of our community."

The relationship between Signal Bank and the Moreland school began when sixth grade teacher Leigh Anderson, seeking a new way to motivate her students, thought of establishing a partnership with a local business organization and approached Signal Bank. Rindal responded quickly, creating a program that included all elements of employment, from conducting a job search to landing a position.

"The kids take this program very seriously," says Anderson. "They understand that this is more than just a class assignment, it helps prepare them for life after their school years." Anderson believes that by drawing a closer connection between the skills required to hold a job and their classwork, her students get more excited about school. This year, the program expanded to include an additional class, as well as the position of bank account representative. "I am thrilled to join the program this year. It has a dynamic, motivating effect on the students," said Robbyn Finch, a first year teacher at Moreland. West St. Paul's Moreland Elementary School serves 543 elementary students.

Students learned how to put together resumes, obtain letters of recommendation, write cover letters, interview for a position and write thank you letters. "To be sure I made a good impression in the interview, I practiced smiling at myself in the mirror all night. I think it really helped because I was relaxed," said Annie Nesdahl, age 12, after her interview for the teller position. In preparation, students practiced shaking hands, introducing themselves and maintaining eye contact and smiling when having a conversation. Smiling is important to learn for those who plan to work directly with customers.

Chase Foreman, who is working as a proof operator, says he likes the opportunities presented by the program and thinks that overall, school should be more challenging. "If the work is harder, we will learn more

and become smarter and that will help later on in school," says Foreman. Marie Zangs Foreman, Chase's mother, volunteered to help students complete resumes and says the program has helped boost self esteem. "By working on a resume and listing their accomplishments, the students take a look at themselves and recognize the activities with which they are involved really mean something," says Zangs Foreman.

Signal Bank President John C. Dorsey led the bank associates who conducted training sessions in their respected areas over a two-month period and said, "Working with such a sharp group of students, who are so attentive, is exciting. We are very proud of our relationship with Moreland and the success the Banker for a Day program and we look upon this as an ongoing partnership."

During their work at the bank, each student is backed by a bank associate, ready to give guidance and support when needed. Signal Bank expects that curious customers and parents stopping by at the bank will be pleasantly surprised. As part of their training, students toured the bank and received information on banking and the value of a good community bank. Questions ranged from the potential for a bank robbery to the best interest rates for savings accounts.

The students got a close-up look at the duties they were to perform and the large amounts of money for which they would be responsible. "I've really practiced counting money and I've been role playing with my sister," said Amy Giles, whose sister Jessica participated in the program last year. "As a teller, you have to be very accurate," she said. When asked what he thinks are the most important duties of a bank associate, Joe Carter answers, "Making people happy. That is a good feeling."
 -0- 3/9/96 0900


/CONTACT: Mary Welder of the Wallace Group, 612-341-2100, for Signal Bank; Alisha Rindal of Signal Bank, 612-552-2712; Leigh Anderson of Moreland, 612-405-2527/

CO: Signal Bank ST: Minnesota IN: FIN SU:

KG-KW -- MNF008 -- 1773 03/08/96 18:09 EST
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Date:Mar 8, 1996
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