Local First Graders Tour Del Norte Credit Union

Branch Manager Matthew Waldschmidt talks to Barranca Elementary School Teacher Erin Manazanares and her first grade students. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
​Los Alamos Daily Post

In Teacher Erin Manazanares’ first grade class at Barranca Elementary School, students learn mathematical concepts and life skills through a program called Classroom Economy. On Thursday, they were able to experience their lessons applied in the real world.


Manazanares’ class visited Del Norte Credit Union on Trinity Drive. While there, they were given a tour of the credit union and introduced to the credit union’s mascot, Baxter the Bear. The class took a list of questions for Branch Manager Matthew Waldschmidt to answer. One of those questions was does the credit union make toy coins?


Waldschmidt said while the credit union does not make toy coins, he has “seen some pretty interesting coins come through the bank.” He explained  the credit union has received foreign and collectors’ coins.


Waldschmidt offered the first graders a little bit of history on banks and credit unions. He explained that Del Norte Credit Union was founded in the 1950s by workers at the laboratory.


“Credit unions and banks are basically trusted businesses where people can safely keep their money,” Waldschmidt said.


Manazanares said this was the first time she has taken her students on a field trip to the credit union. Through her Classroom Economy program, Manazanares introduces finances and financial responsibility to her students. They learn a variety of things such as how to sort and tally money, count money as well as perform specific classroom jobs to earn a “salary.” The program also helps them develop math skills including place value and number sense.


Therefore, the field trip “is to collect on the learning,” she said.


The field trip also fit in nicely with Del Norte Credit Union’s philosophy. “It just fits with our philosophy here that financial education is important at every age in our lives,” Waldschmidt told the Los Alamos Daily Post.


While the credit union offers education and guidance from children to retirees, Waldschmidt said they enjoy having the youngsters at the business. “It’s fun to watch them get excited about it,” he said.


It is also an opportunity to show people what goes on behind the scenes at the credit union. Waldschmidt said while the Santa Fe branch of the credit union usually hosts a field trip about once a year, Manazanares reached out to the local branch for Thursday’s field trip.


“We had a lot of fun doing it. I think what the teacher is doing is really awesome,” he said.

Del Norte Credit Union’s Baxter the Bear listens in on the presentation given to the Barranca students. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com