NEWTOWN >> When Sydney Amspacher began her summer job at The First National Bank of Newtown on June 12, she already knew the basics.
That’s because four years earlier, during her eighth grade year at Saint Andrew School in Newtown, she spent a year working as a teller at The First’s only in-school bank branch.
The bank established the branch just under a decade ago in partnership with the school and Dean of Students Rick Rosenblatt as a way of teaching students financial literacy, life skills and acquainting them with the banking process, which largely gets ignored in school.
As one of 22 school tellers at the school branch, Sydney assisted students and teachers in making bank transactions - mostly deposits, but also a few withdrawals - following the same operational procedures in place at the bank’s other locations.
“I like trying new things,” said Sydney, explaining why she initially stepped forward to become a student teller. “And my friends were involved and I liked hanging out with them.”
Of course, because the branch catered to a much younger clientele, the deposits were much smaller in nature and there were lots and lots of coins to be counted, she said.
“One kid brought in his piggybank and was shaking it all out on the counter and my heart dropped,” she said, but they both made it through with every coin deposited and an empty piggybank on its way home.
“Sydney was someone who caught on very quickly. She was a good bank teller in the school bank,” recalled Eileen Austin, the bank’s Human Resources Representative and a supervisor at the Saint Andrew bank branch.
Austin was also Sydney’s bank supervisor at Saint Andrew and was pleasantly surprised when Sydney’s resume and letter seeking summer employment landed on her desk back in June.
“When I saw it I was very excited that we had a Saint Andrew student coming back and it was Sydney,” said Austin. “I hoped for good things and she came in and did a great job. “
For Sydney, a 2017 graduate of Villa Joseph Marie High School, the experience at Saint Andrew made her transition to a summer job at The First “a breeze.
“The bulk of what I do on a daily basis I had already learned at Saint Andrew,” she said explaining that once you have the various steps and procedures down, it becomes second nature.
“It’s not that much different than Saint Andrews,” said Sydney, who is blazing a trail for future students to follow. “You’re dealing with more people, larger amounts of money, loan payments and the coin machine,” she said, adding, “But I was glad I had that prior experience because I felt a lot more confident. I would have been really lost had I not done it before.”
Her former Saint Andrew Principal, Nancy Matteo, was thrilled to hear one of their former students had been hired by the bank.
“She is one of our best and brightest grads,” she said. “She’s brilliant, talented, gorgeous and down-to-earth. I am impressed that FNBN recognized her many gifts.”
Matteo added, “The news that Sydney had been hired as a teller is tremendous for us at Saint Andrew. It means that our vision is coming to fruition. We aspire for our students to be ‘captains of industry’ and this is a major step in that direction. When we partnered with the bank, this is exactly what we had dreamed would happen. Students have learned major lessons in financial literacy, not to mention poise, discipline and serious life skills.”
The bank’s president and CEO Daniel Schaffer said that providing financial management training to the next generation through its branch at Saint Andrew “is just one more way we remain committed to the communities we serve.
“The First is proud to partner with Saint Andrew School by providing a banking environment to bring this practical education to the student tellers. And Having the opportunity to employ a former student teller is very exciting for us.”
Throughout the summer, Sydney worked as a “floating teller,” filling in at the bank’s branches in Wrightstown, Levittown, Fairless Hills, Doylestown and Jamison, where she spent the bulk of her time.
Austin noted that with Sydney’s professionalism, “I’m certain that she makes customers comfortable and feel welcome and confident in what she’s doing. And that is what we look for. The teller position is a very responsible position and it’s really the face of the bank,” she said.
One lesson Sydney learned is the importance of asking questions. It’s also a skill that will serve her well in college and in the future.
“Even at the beginning of high school I was a shy, quieter person. I didn’t want to bother people. Being in the bank and dealing with people’s finances you can’t just wing it and hope it works out. You have to ask,” she said. “Now I don’t feel bad about going up to people and asking them to check something or to explain something.”
By far, among her favorite jobs at the bank was working drive-thru.
“I guess I just like pushing all the buttons and operating the tube. It’s exciting to me,” she said. “We also get a lot of dogs so I get to put treats in with the transactions. It’s the best because some of them are so cute. And some of them even know what’s coming,” she said.
Her supervisors have been impressed.
“She has been a very reliable and dependable teller - just what we needed her to be,” said Austin.
Sydney’s last day at the bank was August 10. She’s now headed off to her first year at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she will major in English.
Austin has already encouraged Sydney to return to her job at the bank during breaks and over the holidays. “We’re hoping Sydney will continue to come back through her college career.”