Meet Vern, a member since 1960…
When Vern joined Education First in 1960, the Credit Union was located in the same downtown building that housed the Columbus Board of Education, (and where the Board of Education is still located today). Former teacher and founder of the Credit Union, Herb Williams, maintained an office in the State Street building, where Columbus teachers knew they could always go if they needed a loan.
“He was the guy with the money,” says Vern. “And a lot of us teachers in those days needed money. Instead of going to a bank, we would use the teacher’s Credit Union.” Vern remembers Herb Williams as being easily accessible and if a teacher was in need, he had an open-door policy.
A Columbus native, Vern graduated from Central High School in 1951, where he was class president. He then studied teaching at Otterbein University, graduating in 1955. Fresh from college, Vern taught history and coached football for one year in Circleville, Ohio at a small country school.
“There was no credit union in Pickaway County then,” says Vern. “The school was so small that there were not even enough boys for a full football team. We could only play six-man football. It took about 15 yards to get a first down!” he laughs.
After just one year of teaching, Vern was drafted into the army. He served as a medic and was stationed in Louisiana. When his time in the service ended, Vern and his family, which now a included a baby daughter, named Holly because she was born at Christmastime, returned to his hometown of Columbus. Ohio. There, he resumed his teaching career, teaching history and government at George C. Beery Junior High School (later Beery Middle School). He also coached football and baseball. It was at this time that Vern joined the Credit Union after his fellow teachers told him about a credit union, just for teachers.
“I met Herb Williams at his state street office,” says Vern. “I think I needed a $300.00 loan. Whenever you needed a loan, Herb was the man you wanted to see.”
Vern would go on to earn a master’s degree from Ohio State University, partially funded by the Credit Union. Years later, Vern’s four daughters would all earn their high education degrees with student loans from Education First as well.
Vern’s daughter, Sandra would follow in his footsteps and also become a teacher.
“You know, even as a kid, I was very aware that the Credit Union did a lot to help our family,” says Sandra, a published author, who taught English and creative writing at Briggs High School for 28 years.
Over the years, Vern became more involved with Education First, wanting to give back to the community that had helped him. He served as an Education First credit committee member. A credit committee is a group of credit union members who volunteer to review potential loans and either approve or disprove of the loan based on their analysis of whether the recipient can pay the loan back.
Vern also served as a judge for Education First’s annual scholarship competition, reviewing essays from local high school seniors and awarding the winners college scholarships from the Credit Union. He retired from Starling Junior High in 1985. At the time of his retirement, Vern was the Home School Community Agent, working as a liaison between at-risk students, parents and Columbus schools to provide the education these students needed. He visited more than 10,000 homes in his career and was awarded a Good Apple for his excellence in teaching.
Vern has witnessed the Credit Union’s growth from a small office in the Board of Education building to the three locations throughout central Ohio that Education First now has. He says the best thing about the Credit Union is the “friendly service” and that the Credit Union has helped so many teachers through the years.
Vern’s daughter Sandra says that the Credit Union has often felt “like an extension of home.”
“Education First really respects teachers and respects how important education is,” says Sandra. “There’s a lot of security in knowing that there is a community of people that teachers can always count on.”