Bilingual Buds first opened its doors in 2005 at a time when there were few Mandarin immersion schools in the United States.

Sharon Huang founded  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.” Since its inception, Bilingual Buds has taught hundreds of students in Mandarin and Spanish at its Summit, New Jersey and Manhattan locations through a variety of programs, including day school (pre-K to fifth grade), after school language program, enrichment, summer camp and family abroad summer programs.

A New Name Welcomes A New Era:  Bilingual Buds Becomes HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS)

As our students grew, so did we! Expanding our program to include pre-K through fifth grade, we decided the name HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) would better communicate who we are as an educational community. Our new 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 today the New York metropolitan area. Our roots are established with our two schools based on either side of the Hudson River – one in Summit, New Jersey and the other on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Milestones In Our Development


Sharon researches early childhood immersion programs across the country, creates a mission statement and develops a set of educational beliefs that continue to guide the school and its continued growth and expansion.


Bilingual Buds begins in the basement of Sharon’s home. Five students, including Sharon’s twins, enroll in this unique preschool program that meets two days per week, two and a half hours per day.


Bilingual Buds relocates to Livingston, New Jersey and begins its first, five-day per week bilingual preschool, with the goal of continuing to third grade.


Bilingual Buds Livingston location moves to its current home at Saint John’s Church in Summit, New Jersey.


Center for Applied Linguistics’ SOPA test is first administered to Bilingual Buds students as a standardized method for assessing target language proficiency. All students in the Mandarin program ages four and above are tested.


Bilingual Buds launches its Spanish program, offering preschool and pre-K programs 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 at 175 Riverside Boulevard (68th Street), offering Mandarin pre-K and kindergarten programs. Also momentous that spring, several Bilingual Buds’ first graders achieve Advanced Low proficiency on the SOPA exam—a milestone for the school, as well as for the Center for Applied Linguistics.


Bilingual Buds’ Summer Camp in Beijing program expands to serve eight families from Manhattan, Colorado, San Francisco, and Singapore, among others.


Bilingual Buds announces plans to expand both campuses to include fifth grade.


Bilingual Buds is renamed HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS). An annex located at 80 Riverside Boulevard is added to accommodate New York students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade. Ms. Elizabeth Willaum, Director, and Ms. Jian Lin, Assistant Director, are hired to oversee both the New Jersey and New York campuses.