Gail Sallustro, Teacher/School Counselor from UFT
* Retired school counselor
Gail Sallustro began her career as an elementary school teacher in 1962. She married in 1969 and took time off to raise a son, returning to the city Department of Education in 1988 as a school counselor. For the final 15 years of her career, Gail worked at P106, a District 75 school for children with special needs.
Gail, 80, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 13, 2020.
“P106M was a very special place,” said her friend and fellow school counselor Edward Mainzer. “As you can imagine, the educators it attracted were a particularly dedicated group.”
P106M, now closed, was housed on the 21st floor of Bellevue Hospital Center, where the program was run in collaboration with the hospital’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and included sites such as the Manhattan Children’s Psychiatric Center and Covenant House.
Gail retired in 2001 and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, to live near her son. She became an integral part of Arizona’s UFT Retiree Chapter. “Gail was always an active union member, attending meetings both while she was working and when she retired. If not for COVID-19, she would still be an active union member,” Mainzer said.
Gail was also a lifelong learner. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York, a master’s in African History from St. John’s University, and additional post-graduate degrees from Long Island University-Brooklyn and Adelphi University, receiving top honors for her studies in education, history and counseling.
Gail enjoyed her retirement years. She explored the world with close friends, often on cruises, and was an avid supporter of the arts and a member of several museums in Arizona, as well as the Desert Botanical Garden and local performing arts theaters. She was also a voracious reader, keeping up with The New York Times, the Arizona Republic, The New Yorker, The Economist and The New York Review of Books.
Gail also loved to entertain. “As a hostess, she entertained with flair and loved preparing gourmet menus, which were paired with intelligent debate and sophisticated conversation,” said her son, Evan Lee Sallustro.
For decades, Gail was a central figure in a grand Thanksgiving tradition shared with her beloved friend, Louise Gould, of Portola Valley, California. Their friendship dated back to Gail’s first semester at Hunter College. Gail’s son said Louise was there for his mother during every peak and valley of her adult life, including supporting her by phone during her battle with the coronavirus.
Gail is survived by her son, Evan, of Scottsdale, Arizona.