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Rockford Bell Credit Union branch at Guilford High School opens this fall

By Katie Finlon

ROCKFORD — More than 20 students at a Rockford high school won’t have to leave the school to get paid as local credit union workers this fall.

What’s now a classroom next to the cafeteria soon will become a credit union within Guilford High School, according to Chris Magee, the college and career academy coach at GHS.

Magee says students also will help design the space and determine what type of work environment they want for this branch. She says the goal is to teach students financial literacy before they leave high school and to help them establish a relationship with a bank.

“You want to go on the big Great America field trip or you want to go to prom – how do you save money to do that?” Magee said. “So this provides us with that opportunity.”

Magee says the office would be open to students and staff during the school’s lunch periods but not open to the public. She says the goal is to have the credit union tie into a financial planning class at the high school.

John Hansen, CEO of the Rockford Bell Credit Union, says the Guilford branch is modeled after one in Oswego, which has been there for about 20 years.

“It’s sad to see over the years how they aren’t good stewards with their money and they get themselves in trouble and they get bad credit scores, and then they’re always paying for that sin – so to speak – mistake that they’ve made, and it’ll follow them, basically, for the rest of their lives,” Hansen said.

Hansen says students and staff at the school will be able to open checking and savings accounts, cash checks and make deposits and withdrawals at the branch. He says patrons won’t be able to close on loans at that location.

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