BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The woman who helped open Louisiana’s first tuition-free school for children with autism in Baton Rouge is set to retire in summer 2019.
Melissa Juneau, the current Chief Executive Officer for The Emerge Center, oversaw the launch of the Emerge Enterprise, comprising of The Emerge Center, The Emerge Foundation. In addition, she oversaw The Emerge School for Autism, the state’s first charter for children with Autism that opened in August 2018.
Juneau, an Avoyelles native and LSU graduate, was named CEO in 2018 with this expansion.
“This has been a job of a lifetime. It has been my greatest privilege to have had the opportunity to serve the community and touch the lives of children with autism and individuals with communication challenges by building broad access to innovative therapies and educational services at both The Emerge Center and The Emerge School for Autism,” Juneau said in a news release.
Juneau was elected Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation (BRSHF) in 2007, and helped rebrand BRSHF to The Emerge Center in 2014.
She said that despite her stepping down from her position, she believes Emerge is in a strong position to serve its mission in the community.
Since the opening The Emerge Center in 2014, Emerge has grown to over 1,000 clients annually and has garnered close to $1 million annually from community support, according to Juneau’s profile.
The Emerge School for Autism will serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve about 120 students over time, according to a letter sent out from school officials. For its launch, the school will operate out of two classrooms to serve twenty children in its kindergarten class during the 2018-2019 school year.
School enrollment is full for this year. However, parents interested in the school can get more information about future enrollments at www.emergeschool.org.