North Shore Bank in Brookfield, Wis., has returned to its teaching roots.

The $1.8 billion-asset bank recently honored three teachers who excel at money management instruction. Each teacher received $1,923 (a nod to the year the bank was founded) for projects related to financial literacy. Honoring teachers as part of its 90th anniversary celebration only seemed appropriate since the bank was founded by a group of teachers, says Sue Doyle, a vice president at the bank.

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"We appreciate that educators have a passion for teaching about personal finance," Doyle says. "When teachers can help students a get a leg up and avoid debt, it makes our job easier."

North Shore kicked off the contest by accepting submissions from members of the public who felt that their nominees are making a difference by teaching others about personal finance. The pool was narrowed down to finalists in three geographic regions — north, central and southern Wisconsin — and in October the bank had the public vote online. Winners were selected late last year.

Scott Christy, a teacher at Green Bay East High School, will use the prize money to buy computer-simulation exercises in personal finance for local students. Sara Burling, who works at Menomonee Falls High School, is using the funds for field trips to local businesses and to cover student costs for Future Business Leaders of America competitions. Tammi Fure, a counselor at Lincoln Intermediate School, will use the award to purchase shirts for students with a class logo and graduation year to help remind them to save for their futures.

North Shore is always looking for ways to get involved, especially with financial literacy and teachers, Doyle says. The bank's education efforts include everything from branch managers working with local classrooms on financial matters to having children decorate piggy banks.

A key to success is to provide a financial literacy education early on with easy to understand concepts that are applicable throughout the child's life, Doyle says. For example, the bank has a game to help children think through how they would like to spend, save and share to reach their goals.

"Some of our games are very simple but regardless of age the lessons still apply," she says.

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