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School Spotlight: Gadsden State Community College

Once a month we highlight a different NCRA-approved school. The court reporter programs offered at these schools have met the General Requirements and Minimum Standards established by the Council on Approved Student Education of NCRA. This is a chance for members to get to know these programs and hear from their students and teachers. 

Gadsden State Community College, nearly 100 years old, is spread across five campuses and educational centers in Alabama. The court reporting program, on the East Broad campus in Gadsden, offers three programs: Two A.A.S degrees in court reporting – one with a specialization in broadcast captioning, and a litigation assistant short-term certificate. The program is one of just three NCRA-approved court reporting programs in the Southeast. The JCR reached out to instructors and a student to learn more about their program.

JCR | What sets your program apart from other court reporting/captioning programs?

-Michelle Roberts, CRI, theory and speedbuilding instructor

Gadsden State Community College court reporting program has proven its program’s effectiveness in educating future reporters by the longevity of the program since its inception in 1976. This brick-and-mortar school allows us as instructors to be completely vested in a student’s education and in their personal lives. The personal interaction on a daily basis helps keep students engaged and on a straight path to success as a reporter.

There are a multitude of reasons this program finds a high graduation/success rate: Completing theory in two semesters, which allows each student to perfect each lesson before moving to the next lesson; daily class assignments; daily homework assignments; brief swap days in class; social events within the program to keep morale up; students helping recruit in high schools; and staying abreast with software and machines to meet the demands in the evolving advancements in the field.

We start each new theory class focusing on time management and making students’ practice time a priority in their daily schedules before even putting their hands on the machines. Being a state-funded program also has its advantages in setting our program apart from other reporting schools. Our leadership at our college is committed to providing students with the newest equipment for innovative workforce development in our field. We are completely committed to helping a student balance their life as a reporter with their personal life. I am a proud graduate (Class of 2006) of this program and feel very blessed I get to share my knowledge and help each student fulfill their dream of being a member of this elite field of court reporting/captioning.

JCR | What is something special you would like to share about your program?

-Leah Elkins, CRI, speedbuilding and captioning instructor

Our program has been in existence since 1976 and has been strictly on-site during this time. We are able to give students a more hands-on learning experience for the career of judicial reporting and captioning for this reason. From the beginning of theory, students have the benefit of their instructor showing them the proper writing techniques and setup for successfully completing theory. 

Our students are well trained in the use of their software in transcript production and formatting, and this goes beyond the bare-bones basics. Students have two semesters of daily mock depositions and trials to hone their skills of editing, proofreading, and utilizing their software features to make them proficient in their transcript production as a future reporter.

Our students have the added benefit of having an instructor there to address any issues they have when problems arise. Our students are required to maintain a certain speed level of accuracy based on their speed before moving forward to the next speed. This aids tremendously in helping them be much cleaner in their writing skills and allows them to cut down on edit time.

We also test in ten-word increments in our program which gives students the opportunity to progress in speed more often. We give speed exams twice weekly, accuracy exams once weekly, and have a plethora of daily exams that entail vocabulary, proofreading skills, WKT preparation, as well as discussing current events or punctuation rules when you get that really odd scenario in a transcript.

I believe what sets us apart from other programs is that all of our instructors are graduates of this program. Being a brick-and-mortar program allows us to have a great learning environment for our students with face-to-face interaction between students and the instructors, and that makes a huge difference in communicating what you need them to learn or know.

Our program is basically a family of future court reporters/captioners all in this together to help each other reach their final goal. We are extremely proud of our program and feel that it’s definitely one of the best!

JCR | What do you love about being a student at Gadsden?

-Olivia Rager, Gadsden student and NCRA member from Rainbow City, Ala.

What I love most about this program is how hands-on our instructors are and the community that we have built here. Without hesitation, one of our instructors will guide us through an issue we’re having with our software or overcoming a roadblock we’re having with our writing.  Encouragement and community are something we are not short on here at Gadsden State. We all know that this program comes with its own set of challenges, but we are going to make the best of it while we are here. When we leave court reporting school, we know we have a community of reporters and friends behind us, cheering us on along the way. The versatility that this program affords us after graduation is endless. There is no other profession like this one where you can be anywhere in the country and have work to do.

The mission of Gadsden State Community College is to prepare students from all backgrounds for success through quality education, innovative workforce development, and inclusive community and global engagement.

Learn more about Gadsden State Community College or see all NCRA-approved schools and programs. 

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