The Parent Teacher Organization presidency positions in Wellesley’s schools typically are filled by moms willing and able to put in up to 40-hour weeks the volunteer job can demand during its busiest times. This year, however, Wellesley has two dads who have taken on that leadership position, along with all the joys and headaches it entails.
Matthew McKay, Sprague PTO President
Matthew McKay took the PTO helm at Sprague Elementary School this year, and Kevin Leach serves a co-president of Hardy‘s PTO, along with Lisa Fico.
The 5-member Wellesley School Committee also now includes a male, Matt Kelley, and we were surprised to hear that since 1978 the committee has actually consisted of about 30% males. While we don’t have the historical data on the PTOs, our impression is that having two male presidents at once is rare or even unprecedented (feel free to chime in if you know otherwise).
Kevin Leach, Hardy PTO co-President
In the meantime, if you were wondering what it’s like to be a PTO president, man-style, turns out it’s pretty similar to working the job woman-style — it’s all about setting priorities and helping the school year run smoothly.
We caught up with Leach, who graduated from Wellesley High School in 1989, and McKay, a relative newcomer, and they graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the vida loca of a PTO president.
How long have you lived in Wellesley? How did you decide that this was the town for you?
McKay: We moved to Wellesley in 2007 from San Francisco. We were attracted by the great school system, accessibility to Boston, and relative closeness to my parents and my in-laws.
Leach: My wife and I moved to Wellesley in 2006, although as a child I lived in Wellesley. My parents and I moved into town when I was in 8th grade and I graduated from WHS in 1989. We moved back to Wellesley to be close to my parents and because we believed in the school system and the location of Wellesley offered a reasonable commute for both my wife and I.
Do you work full-time? What is your professional background?
McKay: I stay at home now. When our youngest daughter was born we decided that my wife would return to work and I would stay at home with the newborn. I thought this arrangement would last one or two years, but I’ve enjoyed staying at home with my girls and my wife has been able to focus on her career. My career was largely focused in equity research, covering software and IT services companies. In San Francisco I worked for Robertson Stephens during the crazy dot com era. I enjoyed the challenge of picking stocks and learning about companies and trends. The travel became a burden when we started having children.
Now I’m trying to write a sci-fi novel, or at least one that people would want to read. Over the past year I’ve written over 90,000 words. It’s not quite finished, but I would love for writing to become my new profession.
Leach: I work full time in a scientific role in the pharmaceutical industry. I have a Ph.D in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and did a post doctoral fellowship in biological engineering at MIT. I am a director of Pharmacology at a biotech firm in Cambridge working on therapies for rare and orphan diseases.
What are the most important challenges facing you this year as PTO president?
McKay: We have set out two main priorities. The first is to ensure our new principal, Ms. Susan Snyder, is successful in her first year. The second is to build up an already very strong community. Our community has been very generous over the years, enabled by superstar parents who have run fund raisers, and thus our primary challenge is finding the most impactful projects for PTO.
Leach: As PTO co-president the challenges we face are keeping the momentum going. We have been lucky to have a long succession of great PTO board members who have set up an infrastructure that is effective at accomplishing the mission of the PTO. This year we are focused on delivering programs to the children that complement their school objectives, to supporting the school staff, and to fostering a sense of community at Hardy school.
What is the most enjoyable part of your PTO president job?
McKay: The people in the Sprague community (parents, kids, teachers), hands down. There are so many incredible people that feel very strongly about supporting Sprague. There is a strong bench of past Presidents and Treasurers who have continued to support the PTO and pointed us in the right directions. Read More