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School Spotlight: Community College of Allegheny County

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. 

Since its inception the court reporting program at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been growing and flourishing in the city of Pittsburgh, Pa. The school enjoys close proximity to the University of Pittsburgh Law School, Duquesne University, and VITAC, and has established partnerships that benefit students. Opportunities include mock depositions, field trips, and occasions to work as student reporters at depositions.

Mary Beth Johnson, CRI, Department Head, Business Technologies and Program Coordinator, Court Reporting, CCAC, answers questions about the program.

JCR | What is the mission of your school?

MBJ | The mission of CCAC is to prepare individuals to succeed in a complex, global society by providing affordable access to high-quality career and transfer education delivered in a diverse, caring, and innovative learning environment.

Since its founding in 1966, CCAC has flourished, becoming the educational powerhouse it is today — a nationally renowned two-year college dedicated to serving all members of the community. From groundbreaking student success initiatives to top-ranked academic and career-based programs, CCAC continues to be the college of choice for nearly one out of every two adults in the Greater Pittsburgh metropolitan region. Since 1967 court reporting training has been offered at CCAC with options to complete an associate’s degree or a certificate. In 2020 the first online classes in court reporting began. Six students completed in less than two years, with 100 percent placement.

Faculty in the court reporting department represent a total of 81 years of teaching experience, including judicial and freelance background. 

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

MBJ | The philosophy of teaching court reporting at CCAC is student-centric. Faculty members meet with their classes via live Zoom sessions, which are recorded, in an effort to develop a learning community. We support student success through memberships in NCRA and state associations. We offer individual one-on-one faculty-student sessions; develop videos presenting the complexities of numbers, EX-, SHUN, and KSHUN theory lessons; encourage students to apply for scholarship opportunities; invite guest speakers such as Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR; host virtual field trips, such as a biannual VITAC-hosted presentation by Crystal Cermak and Kelli Supan; support mentorship and internship experiences; participate in mock trials and depositions; and place 100 percent of available graduates. 

Program strengths:

  • Enrollment increase is attributable to the court reporting program moving online in 2020, broadening the reach to a nationwide catchment area of students.
  • Two faculty members have completed the requirements for the NCRA CRI certification.
  • Integration of Realtime Coach, EV360, and Career Launcher has enabled the department to assess and evaluate student progress and achievement on a daily basis. 
  • Six of the first online class graduated in fewer than two years, and all were awarded $1,000 from Project Steno for meeting the milestone of writing at 225 words per minute in two years. 
  • Court reporting instructors work together with students each day to foster an inclusive classroom culture where all students are respected, valued, and have an equal opportunity to succeed.

JCR | What do your students love about the program?

MBJ | One of our students, Taylor Hertz, from Northridge, Calif., shared this:

Taylor Hertz

“As someone who works a full-time, 9-5 job and wants to enter the field of court reporting, I was looking for a program that would accommodate my busy schedule while simultaneously keeping me on top of my daily practice. Burnout was one of my biggest fears when starting out, and while I’ve had stronger weeks than others in terms of practice, the court reporting program at CCAC has given me tangible weekly goals that ensure that I’m never falling behind. 

“The other thing I love about this program is that, while it’s fully online, it gives the students the brick-and-mortar experience of having classmates, live teachers, and set class schedules from the comfort of their homes. So even though I live across the country from CCAC (near Los Angeles), I have a sense of comradery with my classmates and teachers that most people can only ever obtain in a live classroom setting.”

View a video compilation of pictures of CCAC court reporting students from 2018 to the present enjoying pizza parties, conducting mock trials and depositions, and graduating!

Thanks to Mary Beth Johnson, CRI, for providing these NCRA School Spotlight responses. Sara J. Conroy, Ph.D., Dean of Business and Technology at CCAC, notes: Under the leadership of Professor Mary Beth Johnson, CCAC’s court reporting program provides high-quality, flexible, and accessible training to individuals pursuing court reporting as a career path. I am extremely proud of her hard work in building and growing this program all while maintaining a focus on student success.”

Learn more about Community College of Allegheny County or see all NCRA-approved schools and programs.