Life After Chase: Sal Tralongo

From Banker to Mr. T

They call Sal Tralongo "Mr. T" now.

No, not that Mr. T.

Tralongo's gone from a 25-year career at Chase to being principal of the 317-child, K-8 Transfiguration Academy of Bergenfield, NJ.

Tralongo points out, though, that he actually started out as a junior and senior high school teacher before becoming a banker.

After graduating from Fordham, he went to Europe as commissioned ROTC during the Vietnam War.  While there, he got a master of education from the University of Southern California, which ran the overseas program.  He returned to the States and began teaching in the New York City schools, until a financial crisis forced teacher layoffs.

"I went to work for an insurance company, and then someone got me an interview at Chase," he recalled. Having been an operations officer in the Army, he began in August 1978 in Chase Operations and Systems.  Over the years, he worked at One New York Plaza, 1 CMP, MetroTech and 4 New York Plaza, in ops as well as in financial planning and analysis and project management.  "It was a good career," he said.  "It let me put two children through college."

He retired in February 2003 as a vice president.

"I'd been retired eight or 10 months, and then I thought it's time to give back," he said. He began to substitute teach at the parochial school in his parish, quickly became a permanent teacher and then even more quickly was named vice principal.  "A week afterwards, the principal quit – not because of me – and I was named acting principal," he said. The permanent job came after the parish consolidated its schools.

"My Chase experience of going through two mergers helped me as we needed to merge three parochial schools into one," he said.

In a little more than five years as principal, Tralongo has started engineering and technology programs and introduced interactive white board technology, and he points proudly to more than $2 million in high school scholarships won by his pupils last year.

"My Chase experience was invaluable," he said.  "Running a school is a business.  It involves budgets, HR, technology."  In the case of a parochial school, he also has to balance the academic with the spiritual/religious and other activities, from sports to drama. 

Tralongo goes regularly to in-service courses covering educational practices and theory, legal aspects and other hot topics.  He also had familiarity with the running of the schools as a former member of the school board and finance committee.  "I was involved with everything from budgets to painting and plastering," he said.

Asked whether running a school has taught him something he wishes he had known while working at Chase, Tralongo replied, "I would have had more fun with the job, and I might have gotten more things done.

"At school, I say, 'We can have fun and still learn,'" he said.

Tralongo, 63, spends a lot of time with kids outside of school as well: He and his wife have six grandchildren, ages 10 years down to three, in Rhode Island and in Rutherford, NJ.