Connecticut offers NCRA’s A to Z with help from ProCAT

Kendra Jenkins, Jessica Lynn Sekellick and Megan Speed (yes, Speed!), Connecticut A to Z participants discovering the joy of steno

Kendra Jenkins, Jessica Lynn Sekellick and Megan Speed (yes, Speed!), Connecticut participants in NCRA’s A to Z program discovering the joy of steno

Andrea Kingsley, RPR, of Easton, Conn., first learned about NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago when Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a firm owner from Worcester, Mass., presented the idea during a seminar. “I signed up [as a leader] right away,” says Kingsley. “It’s a brilliant idea.”

The A to Z program is a six-to-eight week presentation to a small group of participants considering court reporting as a career. During the program, the participants learn to write the alphabet and numbers in steno on an actual steno machine. The presentations are led by court reporters and captioners who have signed up with NCRA to volunteer and offer these sessions.

So far, Kingsley said she has had 11 people interested in her A to Z program. “I found people through the NCRA listserv that sends out contact info of interested participants by state. I sent out an announcement to our state membership, and I posted it in the library where I held the sessions,” says Kingsley, who just wrapped up a session earlier this week.  “The students all received a certificate and letter of recommendation. They all plan on attending an online school.”

The A to Z program is a unique way to give participants the experience of using a steno machine without investing in schooling or the cost of equipment, although becoming a court reporter will require a greater commitment. For the Connecticut-based A to Z program that Kingsley led, Tracy Gow, RPR, an official and freelance reporter from Middlebury, and a past president of the Connecticut Court Reporters Association (CCRA) reached out to ProCAT about providing machines for program participants. ProCAT offered to donate the machines; CCRA only needed to pay for shipping.

“We got 10 machines but didn’t need that many,” says Kingsley. “When I saw Renee Leguire’s request for machines on the listserv, I got in touch with her, and we were able to provide five machines to the Albany area A to Z.  Renee kindly split the shipping cost with CCRA.” Leguire, RMR, CRR, a firm owner from Latham, is hosting an A to Z program in New York.

“A huge thank you to Grace Molson and ProCat for lending the Connecticut Court Reporter’s Association 10 steno machines for use in A to Z Discover Steno programs,” says Kingsley.

CCAC to offer free, introductory court reporting course

The Tribune-Review reports on March 22 that the Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pa., will host an A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand course, which is a free introductory course on court reporting, from April 19 to May 12.

Read more.

Court reporter shortage impacts trials, hearings

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyKHSB TV, Kansas City, Mo., posted a story on Feb. 8 featuring NCRA members Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Olathe, Kan., and Chris Herndon, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter from Prairie Village. The article focused on the growing demand for more court reporters.

Read more.

Northwoods court reporters training next generation through free classes

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyA Nov. 8 story on WJFW Newswatch 12 (Rhinelander, Wis.) highlights an A to Z program at the Oneida County Courthouse. The story quotes Jean Wood, RMR, CRR, an official in Lake Tomahawk, and NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and firm owner in Wausau, as well as a couple of participants in the program.

Read more and watch the video.

Donate your old machine and case to the A to Z Program

"Donate your machine for the A to Z Program" -- Four different models of steno machines

The A to Z Program offers participants the opportunity to learn the basics about court reporting in a six-to-eight week introduction to machine shorthand program.

You can assist the next generation of court reporters and captioners.

There is a great need for used steno machines, chargers, AC adapters, paper trays, ribbons, tripods, cases, etc. If you have these items, the A to Z Program is looking for donations and loans to programs in your state or local area.

Stylized image of a hand holding a steno machine -- white outline on a purple backgroundDonate or loan your steno machine

You do not need to ship your machine or any other items at this time. You will be contacted when your items are needed. We ask that everything you donate is in good working order and has been cleaned. This is an introduction to our profession, and we’d like the experience to be a positive one.

Complete this form and NCRA’s Education Department will add your name and items to the database. When needed, you will be contacted by a local A to Z Program leader.

Are you interested in leading an A to Z Program?

A to Z Program leaders work with small groups of participants as they learn how to write the alphabet and numbers in steno. This program does not follow any particular theory. Program leaders receive free training materials after completing and submitting a program leader Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). For more information, view the A to Z webinar and read the frequently asked questions.

NCRA member in local media for A to Z program

Good Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.

NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program sparks media interest

NCRA's Discover Steno: Explore. Consider. Learn

NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program, introduced last year, is steadily gaining interest by the public and the media. In addition to programs in more than 16 states, most recently media outlets in New York and Wisconsin highlighted the effort.

Good Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.

On Sept. 14, WJFW Newswatch 12, Rhinelander, Wis., showcased NCRA member Lynn Penfield, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Harshaw, who will begin an A to Z program in October. The story notes that Penfield is running the program because she “considers [court reporting] the best job she’s ever had, and she wants to get more people interested in her field.”

NCRA Past President Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, Worcester, Mass., developed the A to Z program to help those outside the profession experience steno by learning to write the basics. She graciously turned the program over to NCRA. Since then, NCRA’s Education Department has successfully worked at the grassroots level to promote the effort.

The six-to-eight week course is available at no cost to participants. Volunteer leaders host the sessions, and participants use loaner machines that have been donated by others in the profession.

To learn more about the A to Z Intro to Machine Steno program, visit, or contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at

A to Z: Recruiting the next generation

A group of students sit in a circleBy Nancy Varallo

I want our time-honored profession to flourish into the future. I’m betting you do too.

I’ve been a freelance reporter, a teacher, an agency owner, president of NCRA, and have been involved in NCRA educational initiatives
for years. Here are two important takeaways from my experience:

• People still don’t know about our field (no surprise there) and its wonderful career opportunities.
• We need to screen applicants to court reporting programs to make sure we enroll students who have the best chance to succeed.

The solution might just be as simple as the A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program, a program you can teach in your own home or office, whether or not you’ve ever taught anything before. Teaching experience is not necessary. What’s necessary is your enthusiasm and a
willingness to devote some hours of your time to ensure a future for our profession.

Court reporting is a great field. It’s worth being enthusiastic about. When young people hear our story and suddenly realize what a great opportunity this is, they’re excited. The A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program channels that excitement to produce recruits for court reporting school who are excited about the prospect and have self-selected as the candidates most likely to succeed.

After rolling out the A to Z program myself in November of 2015 with a class of seven young people, I spread the word and got a wonderful response from my court reporting colleagues. Court reporters, most with no teaching experience, ran their own A to Z programs, with great success. Several enrollees from each group said they wanted to go to court reporting school. These were the individuals who had taken quickly to the machine, showing aptitude for it and eagerness to learn. That’s exactly the kind of students we need in court reporting school!

I realized my A to Z program was working. It was a hit! I brought it to NCRA, and it is now NCRA’s initiative.

Please think about running an eight-week A to Z Program yourself. NCRA has all the materials you will need. Reporters around the country who have run successful A to Z classes are available to help you get up and running. What’s the commitment on your part? The A to Z course materials are structured for eight three-hour sessions, i.e., three hours a week for eight weeks. No homework to collect, no tests to give. It’s as easy as … well, ABC.

In 24 hours, you can make a difference.

We’ll help you get steno machines for your students. You don’t need laptops or software. The idea is to expose as many young people as possible to the machine and then let them figure out themselves whether they like writing on the machine and perhaps want to enroll in a
court reporting program. Your enthusiasm goes a long way to help the talented candidates among your class grasp the opportunity being
shown to them and choose to go on to court reporting school.

If you’d like to talk to other court reporters who have run A to Z programs, contact us at There’s program information and sign-up forms there. A to Z is a community-based initiative. Use your friends and neighbors in your community to assemble a class. Post flyers in your local high school, at the dry cleaner’s, the library, the supermarket. Advertise in your town newspaper. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Schedule classes in your home, or in a local venue such as a church, school, library, court reporting agency. You just need a small classroom once a week.

I’m thrilled with A to Z – because it works! Reports of success are coming in from all over the country. You can be a part of that success!

Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR is an agency owner in Massachusetts. She is NCRA’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award recipient. You can reach her at


Creating our own success

Thanks to the leaders who have already hosted A to Z programs


Thanks to the leaders who have already hosted A to Z programs

Who is the leader in your state? Help us cover the country by hosting an A to Z program in your area!

Kerry Anderson, RPR, Atlanta, Ga. 6/27/17
Lori Baldauf, RMR, Appleton, Wis. 4/12/17
Douglas Bettis, Canton, Ohio 8/23/17
Sandra Boe, RMR, Genessee Co. N.Y. 6/3/17
Meredith Bonn, RPR, Rochester, N.Y. 6/27/17
Vonnie Bray, RDR, CRR, Billings, Mont. 9/23/17
Misty Bubke, RDR, CRR, Sioux City, Iowa Fall 2017
Cayce Coskey, RPR, Wichita Falls, Texas 9/12/17
Kim Farkas, RPR, CRR, Henderson, Nev. Fall 2017
Theresa Fink, RMR, CRR, Rapid City, S.D. 8/1/17
Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, Tulsa, Ok. 11/1/16
Yvette Heinze, RPR, Great Falls, Mont. 9/23/17
Lorreen Hollingsworth, RPR, Wellesley, Mass. 4/30/17
Debra Isbell, RDR, CRR, CRC, Mobile, Ala. 6/3/17 and Birmingham, Ala. Fall 2017
Andrea Kingsley, RPR, Easton, Conn. Fall 2017
Cyndi Larimer, Claremore/Pryor, Ok. 3/7/17, 10/18/17
Donna Lewis, RPR Washington, D.C. 9/9/17
Kathy May, RPR, Memphis, Tenn. Fall 2017
Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, Hamilton, N.J. 9/1/17
Patricia Moretti, RPR, CMRS, Detroit, Mich. 3/25/17, 8/5/17
Tami Morse, RPR, Tulsa, Ok. 1/24/17
Shelley Ottwell, RPR, Muskogee, Ok. 6/20/17
Lynn Penfi eld, RPR, CRR, Rhinelander, Wis. 8/1/17
Angela Ross, RPR, Sacramento, Calif. 9/16/17
Leslie Ryan-Hash, Wichita Falls, Texas 9/12/17
Janette (Jan) Schmitt, RPR, Vancouver, Wash. Fall 2017
Nancy Silberger, Lynbrook, N.Y. 6/28/17
Kathleen Silva, RPR, CRR, Andover, Mass. 5/1/17
Margaret Sokalski, CRI, Chicago, Ill. 7/1/17, Fall 2017
Darlene Sousa, RPR, Stoneham, Mass. 1/24/17, Fall 2017
Doreen Sutton, FAPR, RPR, Phoenix, Ariz. 2/16/17
Rivka Teich, RMR, Brooklyn, N.J. 4/1/17
Donna Ulaub, RMR, CRR, Chicago, Ill. 6/10/17 and Elmhurst, Ill. 7/1/17
Nativa Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, Harrisburg, Pa. Fall 2017


A to Z: Recruiting the next generation

Creating our own success


A to Z: Creating our own success

A group of students sit in a circle

You don’t need to take Nancy Varallo’s word for it. We have heard from several of the A to Z program leaders about their experiences.

“It is my very strong opinion that this program is the key and the missing link to the shortage of students in our schools. I believe our Steno A to Z students will be strong, successful students who start way ahead of the game. Whatever needs to be done to expand the number of attendees needs to be done. It is purely a numbers game. Only a percentage will go on, so the higher number of people that participate, the better,” says Meredith Bonn, RPR, who is an official in Rochester, N.Y., and was recently installed on NCRA’s Board of Directors.

Bonn has taught three groups of trainees, about 25 people, so far. “The one high school student I have had so far, who is a musician, was able to learn it the quickest and fastest,” she says.

“Two out of our seven participants have now enrolled in accredited court reporting programs in Wisconsin! Another person is very seriously looking into signing up for fall classes,” says Lori Baldauf, RMR, an official reporter based in Appleton, Wis. “All seven students arrived on time and attended each class — with just a couple excused absences — and obviously worked hard to learn the material.”

“I think this A to Z program is one of the best projects NCRA has shared with its members and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to lead a group in the Fox River Valley area of Wisconsin,” continues Baldauf. “I’d like to personally urge other reporters across the country to get more sessions started in their area as well!”

Kathy May, RPR, a freelancer and agency owner based in Memphis, Tenn., has only just begun recruiting trainees but considers what they have accomplished so far a success. “We set up a booth at our court reporting conference in June promoting the program, and from that we received donations of paper as well as the offer to loan machines,” says May. “We even had a reporter express an interest in putting together a program for her market.”

When asked for advice for other program leaders, Baldauf says: “Simply share your enthusiasm and sincere adoration for your profession! It’s contagious and will motivate your students to succeed in the program.”

“Set the expectations for the participants so they understand they cannot miss a week with lots of notice before they begin and so they can plan. Make-up sessions are too difficult and time-consuming,” says Bonn.

“Surround yourself with great reporters to help,” says Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, an official from Marlton, N.J. “The volunteers who helped were so great. They really committed themselves to the program, and other reporters jumped in to fill in for vacations. Without the support and commitment of the instructors and the reporting firm that lent us office space, it would not have been possible.”

Rivka Teich, RMR, a freelancer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., says: “Accept more than the recommended 10 students, because just like real court reporting school; there is a drop-out rate. I had 12 people sign up, 10 people show up, and 4 people finish.”

“Start planting the seeds well in advance of offering the program. We have prepared flyers that are letting our markets know that there will be a free program coming soon. We have already gotten several names of people who are looking forward to the program,” says May. She adds that program leaders should understand that it’s important to talk about what you are doing and leverage the power of word of mouth. She says: “You never know who might know someone who knows someone who would be perfect for this profession. We just have to
find them!”

The Wisconsin Court Reporters Association used Facebook as one means of reaching potential participants. The organization also contacted the guidance offices of local high schools and emailed blasts to members asking them to reach out and network in their communities, according to Baldauf.

McFadden agrees that using Facebook is key but adds: “We have gotten leads from NCRA [and from] calls to our executive director. We also had success posting flyers in local courthouses.”

“Talk about A to Z with everyone! Your friends and family can be great A to Z messengers. Before your first class, practice on friends or family members. I had two high school seniors in my office for four days of immersion/mentoring/shadowing in a professional office. In addition to taking them to court to observe, they became my first A to Z students. Have fun rediscovering your early days of the wonder and newness of steno,” says May. “It’s infectious.”


A to Z: Recruiting the next generation

Thanks to the leaders who have already hosted A to Z programs