Plantation Key School sixth graders got an opportunity to see how schoolwork applies to the workplace during a recent field trip.

The students took a field trip to a local bank, where they practiced being customers, making withdraws and later using their “money” to purchase snacks and souvenirs. The branch manager also gave students a backstage tour of the drive-through and vaults. 

“‘Why do I have to learn math?’ is a question every parent and school teacher has heard more times than they can count over the years,” said field trip organizer John Casbarro.

“This trip to Bank of America is an attempt to show kids how math skills apply to everyday life and work when they grow up” explained Casbarro. Casbarro works with the KAPOW organization (Kids and the Power of Work), which is a national partnership of businesses, schools and community leaders. KAPOW’s mission is to demonstrate to young students just how the skills they learn in school will apply to their work life when they grow up.

When they arrived at Bank of America, which was decked out with Welcome PKS signs, the first stop for the students was the New Accounts office manned by Jennifer Harper. Here Harper showed them how she performed the everyday tasks of her job opening bank accounts for customers. She had them each write out a personal check, a task they took very seriously.

“The most important line on any check is the Legal Line”, explained Harper. “You must write out the desired amount correctly in words, or the bank will not honor your check.”

Each kid also wrote out a withdrawal slip, which they would later take to the teller.

Next the students had to stand in a teller line to cash their withdrawal slips, most very quiet and serious as they clutched the slips they had written. A special line was set up for them, right next to actual customers in the next line. The teller to the students doled out “play money” in exchange for their withdrawal slips. They were later able to use this play money to purchase snacks and gift bags.

“I know my dad’s password,” bragged student Garrett Mack when branch manager Maureen Griffin showed the kids what a debit or ATM card looked like, and explained how it is used. Griffin then took them inside the back of an ATM to show them the inner workings, which Eduardo Diaz pronounced as “pretty cool.”

Julie Ratliff, Teller Operations supervisor, took groups of kids into the shiny, thick-doored vault that is lined with safe deposit boxes. Ratliff showed them how it took two keys to open a safe deposit box, then asked, “Why do you think it takes our key and a box holder’s key to open a box?”

After a few guesses, the kids collectively came up with the correct answer that it was a security precaution so that no one could get into anyone else’s safe deposit box.

In the adjoining vault room kids went wide eyed when she handed them a small, but very heavy box and then told them it contained $250 worth of dimes.

“I loved seeing all those pennies and dimes,” exclaimed Bethanne Murphy afterward.

“We don’t have a lot of paper money in the vault now,” said Ratliff. “Can anyone guess why that is?” They talked it over, then came up with the idea that since so much banking is now done electronically, there is less need for actual cash.

Continue reading how a field trip to the bank reveals schoolwork.

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