West Oak Lane scholarship winner’s mom: ‘God answered my prayers when they called my name’

This academic school year, 7-year-old Imani Moore will attend second grade at Northwest Philadelphia’s newest private institution, The Westwood School, thanks to winning a raffle for a $13,500 full-tuition scholarship.

Her mother Danielle Bentley learned about the new elementary school (which offers pre-K through fifth grade) when she recently noticed one of its flyers in West Oak Lane.

Out of curiosity, she called the school and learned about its open house, which was held Aug. 25 at the school’s headquarters in OARC’s Nia Center, 6801 N. 16th St.

A raffle victory

Even though she didn’t think that her daughter would win the scholarship, Bentley still filled out the raffle ticket. Having already unsuccessfully applied at several charter schools, she hoped it would end her search. It did.

“Thank you Jesus because my intent was to get her into a charter school so I wouldn’t have to pay for her to go to a private school and I didn’t want her in the public-school system,” said Bentley, who previously paid for her daughter to go to the DePaul Catholic School in Germantown. “God answered my prayers when they called my name.”

When Imani’s name was called, she was outside on the playground; however, her mother screamed so loudly that she scared the younger children, making them cry.

When the young girl learned that she won, she simply asked “Who me?” before hugging her mother.

Bentley’s sister was also there because she needed a ride to the open house after waking up to learn that another motorist had hit her parked car.

“This is nobody but the devil trying to stop me from going there,” she later said of that bad news.

“It means everything because I can save more and fix my credit up so that I can buy a home to move into a better neighborhood, which was my ultimate goal this year,” she continued. “I said I would get her into charter school and put money aside.”

An unexpected opportunity

While she is not sure whether her daughter completely understands the magnitude of the opportunity, Bentley said she hopes that she will realize the importance of education.

“Education is the foundation to everything from your childhood to adulthood,” said Bentley who is currently taking prerequisites with the hope of getting into nursing school. “If I would have maintained that after high school, I wouldn’t be where I am at today trying to get her the education, and living in the neighborhood that I think I should be in.”

Because the scholarship is only for one academic year, Bentley said she will continue to apply for scholarships to defray the cost of Moore’s education. She said if all else fails, she will continue to pay for her daughter’s education out of pocket.

What is Westwood School?

The school’s soon-to-open location had been vacant for about a year since the school district moved out. Westwood owner Sirlena Watson saw that as an opportunity to open an independent private school in addition to the pre-K offerings in Ambler.

The school, which will open for education on Sept. 10, has an estimated 60 students enrolled, Watson said Tuesday.

“We wanted to come into the city and give another option for education at an affordable cost,” she explained.

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