Regions Bank gave silver piggy banks as thank-you gifts Friday to 40 Louisiana high school teachers who helped their students master an online financial education course sponsored by the bank.

They teach at 16 high schools in seven south Louisiana parishes.

The schools all had at least 100 students pass a nine-part curriculum created by Washington, D.C.-based education technology company EverFi. Schools get the program free thanks to the Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions. Last year, more than 31,000 students in eight Southern states took the Regions-underwritten course.

Kerry Petty, who teaches a Journey to Career course at Tara High School in Baton Rouge, said he’s partway through, and his students are responding. He recalls explaining to the teenagers how a good credit rating can help them pay less for a car.

“That was an ‘aha’ moment,” Petty said.

He said he could have used a course like this one when he was in school.

“I learned the hard way,” Petty said. “Why did I get that credit card when I was 18?”

Regions Bank handed out the silver piggy banks at a luncheon ceremony at Baton Rouge Magnet High. Only teachers from East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes were able to attend; teachers from Lafayette, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Orleans and Terrebonne parishes did not come because of the bad weather. State Treasurer John Kennedy, scheduled to attend, was similarly sidelined by the weather.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden and East Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Warren Drake, though, were on hand to thank the teachers.

Drake pulled out his wallet to demonstrate how personal finance has changed. He pulled out the credits cards, recalling the days when he carried only cash in his wallet. Then he pulled the cash out, leaving an empty wallet.

“When I was growing up, when it was gone, it was gone,” he said.

Mark Ducoing, executive vice president for consumer banking at Regions Bank, said he learned the importance of financial education when his son went to college and amazed his dad by asking him how to fill out a check.

“I work at a bank, and I didn’t think to teach him something as simple as writing a check,” he said, still surprised.

Four students from three Baton Rouge high schools sat on a panel talking about what they learned.

Eric Lebrane, a student at McKinley High, discussed the danger of credit cards.

“Getting it now is very nice, but sooner or later, you are going to have to pay it back,” he said.

Lebrane said he’s matured because of the course, though his parents give him only so much credit.

“They may not trust me with car keys, but they know I won’t go broke in college,” he said.