Franklin Savings Bank has a special connection with its communities, investing regularly in both education and local economic development.

“This year, we expanded our scholarship program to include Ellsworth, bringing the total to $36,000 in college scholarships to high school seniors planning to major in business-related fields,” said Anna Lyon, assistant vice president, marketing director. “Since 2001, we’ve contributed nearly a half million dollars to these student awards.”

For the past 25 years, the bank also has operated a fully-functioning teaching branch in the Foster Career and Technology Center on the Mt. Blue High School campus in Farmington. The bank provides juniors and seniors with a fully-integrated teller station. Students are trained and thoroughly tested on their knowledge of banking services before they can work as tellers. The only process the branch doesn’t provide training for is loan processing.

Haily Turner, Mt. Blue High School branch coordinator, trains and supervises the students during transactions and maintains a strict code of conduct for students in her classes.

“They must perform in a professional manner at all times,” Turner said. “They are serving their teachers, fellow students and other school staff who do their banking at the school’s branch.”

Trainees follow the same rules and regulations as employees at other branches. Students report to the classroom bank and start their duties immediately. They are required to dress professionally, even if they have to change from more casual clothes before they enter the classroom. They can’t chew gum, snack, use iPods, laptops or cell phones, Turner said.

Students are required to notify Turner and the head teller by 8 a.m. if they plan to be absent from work that day.

To be accepted into the class, students must have a grade average of 85 or higher in a required prerequisite finance-related class. They also complete a Franklin Savings Bank employment application and sit for a formal interview. The final group of teller trainees are selected based on their grades, attitude, professional dress and their interview responses.

As trainees, they learn professional interpersonal skills. Working with customers requires the ability to communicate clearly, use direct eye contact, have excellent manners and give a welcoming smile. Sometimes students need coaching on appropriate behavior, even when they are not waiting on a customer. Even though their friends from school come into the bank, trainees are allowed only brief professional conversations.

They also learn how to keep their own work stations organized and well-maintained. Critical skills include accuracy and the ability to maintain confidentiality. They receive constructive criticism and are evaluated quarterly. The final grade is based on attitude, effort, attendance, professional dress, accuracy and the ability to work independently.

Students usually find the experience helpful, even if they plan to pursue other careers. Others may have planned different careers, but enjoy the training so much that they decide to stay in banking. Franklin Savings Bank also offers a paid internship for students who have taken the bank teller training course for two semesters.

“Students go through the formal application process to work at one of our smaller branch locations while getting credits for school, as well,” Turner said.

Franklin Savings Bank also hires students from the teller training program for seasonal summer help, and many choose to continue their careers with the institution. They may apply for a paid summer internship at a branch and decide to attend college for a business degree. They often come back to their hometowns and work locally, which always delights the banking staff who trained them.

Bethany Frazier is one of those students. Today, she is a commercial loan administrator and has worked for Franklin Savings Bank for nearly eight years. She started in the teller training class and worked as an intern at the bank in Farmington. She also received a scholarship, which makes her one of the ‘trifecta’ winners, according to Anna Lyon. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics at the University of Maine at Farmington, she earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Southern New Hampshire University. She emphasized that she had some help every step of the way.

“The Franklin Savings Bank scholarship program was a very important part of this for me,” she said. “It allowed me to pursue my dreams.”

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