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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