HudsonWay Immersion School (formerly Bilingual Buds) opened its first school in 2005, when there were few Mandarin immersion schools in the United States. Founder Sharon Huang, motivated by the birth of her twins, researched and opened an innovative school that would give children, “…the gift of bilingualism—to expand their ability to communicate, and to enlarge and inform their view of the world.”
As the school expanded from preschool through the upper elementary grades, it was decided that the name HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) would better communicate the complete broader mission of the school. This name evokes the spirit of Henry Hudson, a 17th century English explorer who tried several times to find a new passage to China but ended up discovering the region which is now the NY metropolitan area. Our school’s roots are established with our two campuses based on either side of the Hudson River – one in Stirling, NJ and on the other in a newly built facility in Midtown West, NYC. We are excited about our immersion approach and believe that our students will have the confidence and ability to “navigate the world” in much the same way Henry Hudson did over 400 years ago.
Below are key highlights from the school’s previously unimaginable journey:
Bilingual Buds begins in the basement of Sharon’s home. Five students, including Sharon’s twins, enroll in this unique preschool program that meets 2 days per week, 2 ½ hours per day.
Bilingual Buds moves to Saint John’s Church in Summit, NJ where it remains for 10 years.
Bilingual Buds launches its Spanish program, offering Preschool and kindergarten based on the school’s proprietary immersion curriculum. It is also the pilot year for Bilingual Buds’ Summer Camp program in Beijing. A Chinese partner school relationship is established, with two Bilingual Buds students learning alongside native-speaking preschool children.
Bilingual Buds enrolls its 100th student in New Jersey. In May, the school launches its New York City location on 175 Riverside Boulevard at 68th Street on the Upper West Side offering Mandarin Preschool and Pre-K/Kindergarten programs. Also, momentous that spring, several Bilingual Buds’ first graders achieve Advanced Low proficiency on the SOPA assessment —a milestone for the school, as well as for the Center for Applied Linguistics. Bilingual Buds is subsequently asked to help further develop the Center's scoring rubric for future test takers.
Bilingual Buds announces plans to expand both campuses to Grade 5 thereby establishing an elementary school.
First 5th grade graduate from HWIS. This student will be entering 11th grade at the Pingry school in NJ having achieved a perfect 5 on the AP test in grade 7.
Branding change from Bilingual Buds to HudsonWay Immersion School
Elizabeth Willaum named director
HWIS operates first summer camp to Spain traveling to Marbella and Madrid for 2 ½ weeks. HWIS brings 15 students and some family members who enjoy an immersion camp organized by Enforex and HWIS with a customized itinerary in Madrid.
Relocation of NJ school to St. Vincent de Paul in Stirling with capacity to grow enrollment to 250 students.
Expansion of NY campus to Midtown West at 525 W. 52nd St.
Sue Ha named as first Head of School