Within the school walls of Tennessee’s largest high school, something magical is happening.

McGavock High School boasts 2,360 students at 3150 McGavock Pike, and in January 2014 then President Barack Obama visited to discuss the success of its academy model.

Part of the “academy” pod model is the Finance Academy.

Nearly 400 of McGavock’s students decided to opt in to the Finance Academy at the school.

A huge part of the pod is a live, hands on – do it day to day – association with US Community Credit Union. The credit union has an actual financial institution within the school, with real money, real credit cards and students who actually run it.

Aaron Haddix is a marketing specialist with US Community Credit Union. He’s a Hermitage native and worked for the credit union for the past eight years. He currently oversees the credit union inside McGavock High School.

The credit union inside the massive high school is part of a mentor program for students who wish to forge forward in the world of banking upon graduation, whether it’s straight into the industry or just to gain valuable insight.

Haddix was an intern in the program at the school as a senior. Going full circle, he currently manages the banking program at the school from which he graduated.

US Community Credit Union partners with McGavock and commits up to $250,000 in in-kind donations to the school for the special program. 

Part of the contributions are, in addition to Haddix mentoring interns in the in-school credit union for faculty and administration, include hosting, investing in interns, job shadowing, teaching financial literacy, managing money and more.

“It’s full circle for me,” said Haddix. 

This year, 10 students were taken in as interns with US Community Credit Union’s program with the school’s Financial Academy. 

They spent the summer in a full-force advance training period for the job. 

Senior Cameron Jones, 17, and senior Himani Patel, 17, made the grade and currently work in the in-school credit union. 

“They actually help run our bank hosted at the school,” said Haddix.

It’s a totally student-run branch, with real money, real school staff customers, real debit cards and legit banking principals. 

“I’m in the Finance Academy,” said Jones. “I interned over the summer, and I liked it. Fifteen interviewed for the job I have at the school, and I got one slot.”

Haddix said any student who wanted a chance to have hands-on experience in their credit union within the school had to apply. 

“They train all summer, learned the regulations and spent time shadowing,” he said. 

Patel did her summer training three years ago at the Donelson branch of US Community Credit Union. She took a year off to travel to India.

“I got great exposure,” she said. “I’m sort of shy, but I learned to adapt to customers and learned so much financial literacy.

This year at McGavock, she is part of a powerful team that’s a fully functional student-run branch in the school.

Haddix said there are 500 active accounts at the school branch, a vault and teller drawers. US Community Credit Union works with McGavock and one other school in Metro-Nashville Schools with this program.

“We chose McGavock because it fits geographically and the amount of support from this school is phenomenal,” said Haddix. 

There are about 400 students enrolled in the Finance Academy at the school, so those chosen to work with the credit union are exceptional. 

“I am honored,” said Jones. “When I am in college, banking will be a side job for sure. I have a lot of options. I communicate with our banking members, and we are like a family.”

Those students who participate in the partnership get one full credit. 

Patel said she plans to major in science and finance. 

“My sister also interned with this program, and she loved it and pitched me to join the Finance Academy so I could experience this also,” she said. 

Haddix said it’s a win-win situation. 

“No matter if these students go on to major in finance, it’s about actual skills. We want to take the time to develop them and it’s great on their resume. It’s about all-around financial literacy and a platform to put words into action.”

Haddix said while he’s a marketing specialist with US Community Credit Union, his few hours each day managing the bank with students at McGavock are the highlight of his job. 

“I am extremely proud of this program, of where I’ve gotten from it originally and to see the success of our interns,” he said. “I’m glad to be over it and to work with the best students in the nation.”

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