Meet the New Director of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and World Languages

Please join us as we welcome one of the newest members of the Bound Brook family: Ms. Claudia Heisterman, Director of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and World Languages. We sat down with Ms. Heisterman and asked her some questions to help the school community get to know her.

Please tell us about your educational background and what you’ve done prior to joining Bound Brook on April 3, 2023.

I currently hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in bilingual/bicultural education and ESL studies, and a master’s degree in K-12 educational leadership. I’m pursuing my Doctor of Education in Leadership at William Paterson University. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner and I am proud to be bilingual in English and Spanish.

My educational career spans over 22 years and I began by working as a kindergarten paraprofessional. Throughout my career, I have served multilingual learners both in and outside the classroom through various roles as an elementary bilingual education teacher, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, dual language teacher, middle school language arts teacher, instructional coach and supervisor of bilingual education, ESL, and world languages.

What made you want to work with the students of Bound Brook?

I was drawn to Bound Brook School District because I wanted to be part of a diverse community where educational opportunities are available to all students. Bound Brook is exactly the opportunity I was looking for; there are so many different cultures, backgrounds, and languages represented in this wonderful town.

At Bound Brook, students have the potential to not only succeed academically, but also to learn the importance of cultural understanding, empathy, and community engagement.

District stakeholders work together to offer programs and resources to support students of all abilities and backgrounds, including necessary language programs, which give students the opportunity to be bilingual and biliterate.

How do the students benefit from having a Director of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and World Languages in the district?

The students of Bound Brook benefit from having this position in the district because they have an advocate who ensures that all students, regardless of their language background or proficiency, have access to high-quality education. Part of this includes seeking opportunities for our students to earn recognition that helps them stand out, such as the New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy for graduating seniors.

Another critical component to this role is creating opportunities that build relationships with families to help bridge the gap between home and school, which strengthens our community.

Having a Director of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and World Languages underscores the district’s commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming school community that promotes cultural awareness, where diversity is celebrated and empathy and respect for different cultures and languages is fostered.

What is your educational philosophy?

Of utmost importance is continuing the work of equity and inclusivity here in Bound Brook. Included in this work is striving to eliminate educational disparities, providing all students equal opportunities to succeed, and making sure that every student, regardless of their background or language proficiency, has access to resources, support and high-quality instruction.

I believe in the power of biliteracy. As educators, we have the power to develop proficiency and literacy skills in each student’s native language and English, as well as cultivate cultural knowledge and understanding. Bilingualism and biculturalism are assets that can enhance and strengthen students’ academic and social-emotional development, thereby preparing them to succeed in a diverse and interconnected world.

What about this position inspires you?

The transformative power of bilingual education and its impact on students’ lives is what inspires me. Seeing students develop proficiency in multiple languages and embrace not only their own culture, but also the culture of others, is incredibly rewarding.

What are your long-term goals for the programs you oversee?

One goal is to develop and implement language programs that support bilingualism, biculturalism, and language acquisition. These types of language programs benefit all students, regardless of their native language, because they provide opportunities for students to become biliterate, achieve high academic success, and prepare them for future opportunities.

Once these programs are established, the goal is for Bound Brook Schools to become a model district for its excellence in educational programs for all multilingual learners. By doing this, Bound Brook will inspire other schools and districts, as well as have the opportunity to share successes and contribute to advancing education as a whole.

Although you’ve just begun, what are you most proud of so far?

I am incredibly proud of the dedicated and passionate teachers and administrators I have the privilege to work with at the Bound Brook School District. It is evident that there is a commitment to the success and well-being of all our students, and that is truly inspiring. The collaborative effort shared by the entire staff goes beyond curriculum, fostering a sense of belonging, nurturing students’ individual strengths and instilling a lifelong love for learning.

How has education made an impact in your life and why is education important to you?

I consider myself an example of the positive impact that educational opportunities can have on an individual. I came to the United States when I was 10 years old, and my educational trajectory does not look like a “traditional” path. At 18 years old, I had to support myself and needed to put work before education at that time. I didn’t have the opportunity to enroll in college until my early 30s, which is when I fell in love with working in a kindergarten classroom and I fell in love with teaching.

One of my personal goals is to never forget what it’s like to be a student: a student who is acquiring a second language, a paraprofessional, a teacher, and a parent who wants to see their child/children succeed. The destination is ultimately all about the journey.