TAYLORS, S.C. – Chuck Saylors is set to do something no man has in the 110-year history of the PTA — lead the group, which began as the National Congress of Mothers.
Saylors is expected to be voted the national PTA's first male leader Friday at the group's national convention in St. Louis.
No one is expected to challenge 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, Saylors attracted the attention of the national leadership while serving as president of the PTA's South Carolina branch two years ago.
Saylors and incoming president Jan Harp Domene said they hope 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 Saylors, who is now the national PTA's secretary-treasurer.
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," Bailey said.
Domene said she hopes Saylors will help increase membership from 5.5 million to 10 million by 2010. Saylors said he also hopes to raise awareness about crumbling school buildings in poor communities.
Saylors said he hasn't heard criticism about his possible election. He said 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, Saylors says, is sending the same consistent message to men: "You're wanted. You're needed. You're valued."