As we celebrate our 60th, we are sitting down with some of the people who have helped shape Emerge into what it is today. Through their stories, we are able to see the hard work and dedication that continues to surround the Emerge community.
In this interview, Meg Sprunger, our Director of Speech-Language Pathology Services, shares her outlook on what it has been like to be a part of Emerge, formerly Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation (BRSHF), for 13 years.
Meg’s clinical interests include working with children with apraxia, autism spectrum disorder, and other speech-language delays. She is recognized for “Advanced Training and Clinical Expertise in Childhood Apraxia of Speech” by the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). She also completed Hanen certification and has led parent training workshops based on their “It Takes Two to Talk” program. In addition to working with children and their families, Meg enjoys supervising university students and mentoring young speech-language therapists in their early career years.
Emerge: How did you first get involved with BRSHF/Emerge? What was the organization like then?
Meg: My BRSHF/Emerge adventure began 13 years ago in 2007, with a simple invitation from fellow Speech-Language Pathologist, Suzanne Trahan. Suzanne said to me, “You should consider being a substitute in the group Speech-Language program…you’d probably love it.” Although I was not searching for a job at the time, I was intrigued by Suzanne’s stories, so I went for a visit and ended up “home.”
What drew me in most was the clear mission and the opportunity to participate in truly meaningful work. At the time, the organization was at a very critical crossroad. Thankfully, just three months after I joined, Melissa Juneau arrived as the new Executive Director. The next 12 years can best be described as a “wild ride!”
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in one of BRSHF/Emerge’s most exciting chapters. And now we continue on the journey, writing new chapters that will shape the next 60 years!
Emerge: What was your vision for the program then and how do it compare to where we are now?
Meg: Outwardly, the contrast from then to now is incredible! I have a vivid memory from the old BRSHF building: our small leadership team sitting on tiny chairs in my classroom and yellow sticky notes cover the windows that overlooked the beautiful playground. We had been encouraged to write down everything we wished for, to “dream big” and to consider no idea as out of bounds.
As I remember it, the wishes spanned from the mundane (a staff bathroom), to the practical (observation rooms with sound, a cafeteria for feeding therapy), to the critically important (a social worker, a second occupational therapist, and a sensory gym). Look where we are now – sometimes dreams do come true!
At the core, independent of the building, the name, or the size and scope of the programs, the vision and operating principles that originally drew me in have remained the same: to serve all who come through our doors, to operate with integrity and excellence, and to let the needs of the surrounding community drive our innovation and growth. That is why I believe in this amazing organization.
Emerge: In what ways have you grown from being a part of BRSHF/Emerge?
Meg: Oh my, that would be an embarrassingly long list. Professionally, the children have kept me on a path of constant learning, which means the work is both exhausting and exhilarating! In addition to the children, my colleagues have been a consistent, positive force for both professional and personal growth. Growth is typically not easy; and yes, there have been many periods of tension and disagreement over the years as we’ve learned to stretch and see things in different ways. But when you’re blessed to work with people you admire and respect, you always come through better and stronger on the other side.
Emerge: What do you believe is the greatest strength of BRSHF/Emerge?
Meg: The people, there’s no doubt. It’s all about the people.