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Man breaks tradition to lead national PTA
Mr. Saylors is expected to be voted the national PTA’s first male leader tomorrow at the group’s national convention in St. Louis.
No one is expected to challenge Mr. Saylors‘ candidacy. If approved, he would become national PTA president after a two-year stint learning about the job as its president-elect.
“Being the first man, I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” the 47-year-old father of four said recently from his family’s kitchen. “It’s kind of like, ‘Gee, this is really happening.’ ”
His start with the PTA came in the late 1980s when he volunteered to serve hot dog dinners at his son’s elementary school. After nearly two decades volunteering in posts at various levels, Mr. Saylors attracted the attention of the national leadership while serving as president of the PTA’s South Carolina branch two years ago.
Mr. Saylors said he hopes his high profile will inspire other men to join the group. Too often, they say, men see education and parental involvement as something for women.
“I think having a man at the front of the room is going to get some attention. I’m hoping it will be very positive,” said Mr. Saylors, who is now the national PTA’s secretary-treasurer.
He also hopes to raise awareness about crumbling school buildings in poor communities.
Susan Bailey of Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College said the election of a man to the PTA’s top post is “exactly the kind of thing we would hope would happen more often.”
“This is saying that fathers also are very concerned about [their children’s education] and are willing to put in the time and the energy,” Miss Bailey said.
Mr. Saylors said he hasn’t heard criticism about the potential election. He mostly hears, “It’s about time.”
He said he also knows he needs to do a good job attracting more fathers to the PTA so it won’t take another 110 years to get the next male president.
The key, Mr. Saylors says, is sending the same consistent message to men: “You’re wanted. You’re needed. You’re valued.”
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