Harriet Short: investing in the future - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Harriet Short: investing in the future

Harriet Short working with her students on their banking project Harriet Short working with her students on their banking project

by Sunny Layne

INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- As the nation's finances face unprecedented challenges, one eastern Iowa retired teacher is helping students create a firm foundation of financial success. She's helping students run a real bank of their own, with some students saving more than $1,000 for college. Harriet Short is someone you should know.

At 8 o'clock each Thursday morning retired teacher Harriet Short helps students transform this school library into a bustling bank.

"When I started the bank, it was wanting to teach kids the value of savings," Short said. "If you just save small amounts regularly it adds up."

With 3rd through 5th graders working as tellers and even board members at West Elementary's "Mini-Mustang Bank" in Independence, Short says she's investing in the future by helping students invest.

"You can accomplish a lot," 5th grade banker Colin Butzlaff said. "Learning how to save money, it's pretty cool."

At the beginning of each year, Short teaches all students to save money from allowance or collecting cans, and invest it in an interest-bearing account.

"I'm looking up for a laptop or computer," Butzlaff said.

Short teaches them they can make interest work for them or against them.

"A lot of people use credit cards, but then you pay interest," she said.

Volunteers from Security State Bank help monitor Mini-Mustang Bank, requiring students to have real and confidential account numbers, and Mrs. Short makes sure these mini-bankers do all the work by hand.

"No computers, no calculators," she said.

With 45 customers in just 30 minutes, Mini-Mustang Bank does more business than many commercial banks.

"It helps me understand more about money and stuff and helps me think I may become a banker when I grow up," 5th grade banker Allie Wilkes said. "Cuz when I was younger I always thought I wanted to be a pop star and stuff."

Helping students invest in their future in more ways than one, Harriet Short says she hopes one principle will stand out above the rest:

"Save," she said. "Save instead of spend."

Online Reporter: Sunny Layne

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