The Mattapan preschooler attends the YMCAs Small Fry Nursery School program twice a week. But her parents fear the three-hour sessions are not enough to hold the academic attention of an energetic 3-year-old (soon-to-be 4) whos already reading.
So, theyve entered their only child into the Boston Public School lottery, hoping for a pre-kindergarten slot.
Shes ready, said Olayemi Phillips, 43, a stay-at-home mother who affectionately calls her daughter NiNi. I feel like she needs more.
Phillipss husband, Charles, a 20-year MBTA employee, left most of the pre-kindergarten decision-making to his wife. His one stipulation: The neighborhood must be safe. With that, Olayemi Phillips started the dizzyingand completely foreignprocess of trying to register Nia for school.
I had no idea that we would have to go through this. I wasnt born here, said the native of England who immigrated to Boston in 1995. I worked as a nanny for a few years, and the families didnt have to go through that. They just go off to a private school.
She visited seven schools (some twice), applied to nine, and based her decisions on a mixture of research and intuition. Her second choice, Haley Elementary School in Roslindale, was a school she thought of as an eyesore but decided to check it out anyway.
I just kind of passed by and didnt like the look of it until I went to the school presentation, she said. I loved it! There was just a warm feeling when I walked in the door.
But in the end, she knows all visits and research could be for naught. Four-year-olds arent guaranteed a spot in a Boston pre-kindergarten classroom. And so, they also applied to two charter schools, which also have lotteries.
Phillips is optimistic that something will come of a school waiting list that Nia inevitably will be put on or the preference given to students within a schools walk-zone. But, she knows theres a chance that Nia wont be accepted at school.
And if that happens? I dont know just yet, she said. Leaving Boston is not an option, and Phillips worries that another year of attending preschool for half a day wont be rigorous enough.
But for now Phillips tries to push worry aside and focus on hope.AKILAH JOHNSON