Former Trustee and beloved Bank Street community member Sarah Gund, GSE ’73, died on August 18 at the age of 81.
A longtime educator who saw education as a means to liberate a child’s innate curiosity and intelligence, Gund had deep ties to Bank Street stretching back to her own childhood. Her mother, Sally Kerlin, was a student and colleague of Lucy Sprague Mitchell, Bank Street’s founder, as well as a former chair of the Board of Trustees. Gund earned her own graduate degree from Bank Street in 1973 before launching a career as a special education teacher in Vermont.
In her work, Gund was a passionate advocate of developmentally appropriate, immersive learning to nurture and support the whole child and grounded her practice in Sprague Mitchell’s belief that educators can best serve children by understanding both child and adult development, including their own. “One has to be confronted with oneself as knowledge of the world around you is being constructed,” said Gund, who also taught Continuing Professional Studies courses at the Graduate School of Education for two semesters. “Subject matter is of course important but the growth of oneself and the ability to empathize with others is the core of any learning.”
Gund returned to New York City in 1996 following the death of her husband, William Gray. She continued her work supporting the education of young children as Director of Admissions of the Lower School at Trevor Day School and, later, as an educational diagnostician at Albert Einstein Medical Center and an educational therapist in private practice.
In 2000, she married Geoffrey Gund. Together, they supported numerous progressive education and community development causes including Wave Hill, the Riverdale Neighborhood House, Sarah Lawrence College, and Bank Street, among other initiatives.
Gund also served as a Trustee at Bank Street for 17 years until 2021 and was Co-Chair of Bank Street’s important Centennial Campaign in 2016, helping to raise over $60 million to support the College’s mission and strengthen its financial footing. Gund and her husband gave generously to Bank Street, supporting Learning Starts At Birth, the Urban Education partnership with BronxWorks, and the Graduate School’s Online Learning Program among other initiatives. They were recognized for their leadership and generosity at the institution’s celebratory Annual Dinner in 2019.
“For more than seven decades and several generations, Bank Street has benefitted from the leadership and generosity of the Kerlin-Gray-Gund family. Sarah will always be remembered as a caring and committed member of our community, tirelessly devoting her time, spirit, and resources to supporting Bank Street’s work,” said Bank Street President Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00. “We are saddened by this loss and are forever grateful to her and her family for their contributions to our community. Sarah will be deeply missed.”
Born in 1942, Gund was a graduate of The Putney School and Sarah Lawrence College. She was a former parent and grandparent of students at Bank Street School for Children and is survived by her husband Geoffrey; her children Joshua Gray and Sarah Rakovshik and their spouses Deborah Gray and Mikhail Rakovshik; her brothers Gilbert and J.O. Kerlin; her stepchildren Susannah Bien-Gund, Charlotte Buhr-Gund, Geoffrey Gund, and Tyler Gund and their spouses Cedric Bien-Gund, Rick Buhr-Gund, Angela Pietschmann, and Vicki Bain; and nine grandchildren. Her niece, Abby Kerlin, is the director of general educational programs for the Bank Street Graduate School of Education.
A memorial for Sarah will be held later in the fall at Wave Hill.