Livingston-Tangipahoa community photo gallery for Feb. 25, 2016 _lowres

Photo provided by Delia Taylor -- Neighbors Federal Credit Union member service officer Jacquie Tillman, right, works with Walker High School students, from left, Chase Swann, Brianna Tullier and Mallory Duncan, to manage the day’s financial activities at the Walker Wildcat Branch Neighbors Federal Credit Union.

Walker High School students are getting first-hand banking and personal finance experience through a real-world classroom shared with Neighbors Federal Credit Union, which operates a student-run Walker Wildcat branch at the school.

The business education building houses space for two teller windows equipped with PCs, printers and modems for member services. Student tellers complete daily activities, including student and faculty withdrawals, deposits, account transfers, loan payments and opening of new accounts.

“Our students do everything that needs to be done. They are basically learning on the job, and that is making school relevant for them,” Principal Jason St. Pierre said.

Student workers must complete summer employee training and orientation. Upperclassmen run the teller windows during lunch sessions under NFCU member service officer Jacquie Tillman, who is on-site with the students five days a week. The student-run branch is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday through Friday.

The students work in collaboration with the Denham Springs NFCU branch, Tillman said, and are able to take part in education seminars and credit union events and work with the NFCU Marketing Department to complete research projects.

“Our student-run branch location offers many of the same services as our other 10 branches in the area,” Tillman said. “The students must do drug tests and have background checks before they can work with us, and they are trained and held accountable for their actions.”

The branch offers members a customized Walker Wildcat debit card that earns rewards for the school.

St. Pierre said he is actively working to forge partnerships with other local businesses to advance learning at the school.

“It’s a smart and economical way to strengthen the school’s curriculum and to give students real application for their learned skills,” he said. “What it comes down to is connecting learning to opportunities — when we can do that, we’ve given our students an advantage.”