HudsonWay Immersion School
HudsonWay Immersion School
HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) serves over 200 students in Grades K–7 and plans to expand to Grade 8 in 2021. HWIS started in 2005 as Bilingual Buds, the first private Mandarin immersion preschool in the New Jersey/New York area. HWIS’s mission is to develop intellectually curious, flexible thinkers who demonstrate exemplary character, multicultural perspectives, linguistic abilities, and the capacity to become meaningful global contributors. To achieve this, the school employs best practices of full immersion, small class size, differentiated instruction, and ongoing investment in curriculum and professional development of staff.
The full immersion model begins at age 2, with students spending 100% of the time in Mandarin, and students age 3 and 4 spending 90% of the time in Mandarin. The elementary school program is an 80:20 model in kindergarten and Grade 1. Time spent in English increases to become a 50:50 model in Grades 4 and 5, and a 40:60 model in Grades 6–7 (eventually, Grade 8). Students receive language arts in both English and Mandarin each day. Core content subjects—math, science, and social studies—are taught in either Mandarin or English during alternating weeks to deepen the academic subject learning taking place in each language.
The HWIS community is comprised of engaged students and passionate parents. The overall student-to-teacher ratio is 6:1, and many staff members have children enrolled in the program. Several staff members have been with the school since its founding, 15 years ago. The school has supported H1-B visas and continued education for several staff members. Over 68% of teachers have an advanced degree. Teachers come from over 28 different countries. About 70% of the student body are students of color (Asian, African American, or Hispanic).
Over the years, the school has been profiled in several media outlets, including The New York Times, The Star Ledger (New Jersey), China Daily, People’s Daily, Xinhua News, and on CNN, CNBC, CBS, and Sinovision TV. Students at HWIS have been selected to appear on Sesame Street for the Chinese audience and perform the opening act for the Hong Kong Dance Company’s Mulan at Lincoln Center. In 2011 and 2014, HWIS coordinated summer immersion trips to China for elementary-age students and their families. In 2019, the New York campus’ Grade 3 students won NYU’s grand prize for Rock that Movie. HWIS has been recommended for Middle States accreditation, which it expects to receive in November 2020.
Early Childhood Education (ECE)
The ECE program uses Creative Curriculum as the basis for an integrated theme-based approach to learning. Children explore themes such as “The Community,” “My Body,” or “Trees” in 6-8-week units that integrate language arts, math, science, and social studies. There are 38 objectives that span areas such as social emotional, cognitive, literacy, and fine and gross motor skills to provide a continuum of skills development to assess each child’s individual development. Time spent in large-group work, small-group work, and centers such as the block area, math manipulatives, art center, and dramatic play develop social emotional skills, creativity, the ability to work independently, cooperate with classmates, and maintain self-control—in two languages. The low student-teacher ratios of 4:1 for or 2 year olds, 6:1 for 3 year olds, and 8:1 for 4 year olds enables each child to get the attention and development to best prepare for success in elementary school.
Curricula in each of the core subject areas—language arts, math, science, and social studies—have been selected based on research showing them to be best of the breed. In Mandarin language arts, HWIS uses Better Immersion, which is designed for immersion programs aligned with core content standards, coupled with Level Chinese for literacy development. In Grade 2, students learn pinyin and are each assigned individual chrome books. Starting in Grade 3, students take the Avant assessment, which assesses reading, writing, speaking, and listening in Mandarin.
Math in Focus is the basis for a math curriculum that develops a deeper understanding of concepts through learning them concretely first, followed by pictorially, and finally abstractly. Science is a hands-on, inquiry-based program, and the social studies curriculum focuses on a global view enhanced by perspectives of a culturally diverse staff. Class sizes average 10–14 students per grade. Flexible grouping based on frequent assessments enables each student to maximize learning. HWIS has been able to integrate new students into the elementary school immersion program through additional support.
Language arts and social studies are taught in Mandarin, while math, science, and English language arts are taught in English. Starting in the year 2020, a new Accelerated Language Track was instituted, enabling students without prior Mandarin to join the school in Grade 6 and continue to grade 8, enabling them to accelerate language development in high school. Students in Grades 7 and 8 take part in a two-week trip during spring break to a Chinese-speaking country to engage in service-learning projects. Students have the option of learning a 3rd language, Spanish, during these years. The goal is attainment of advanced levels of Mandarin and progress toward earning the Global Seal of Biliteracy.
Head of School
Founder and Marketing and Admissions Director