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.
By Michelle Houston
The Long Island Business Institute (LIBI), located in Commack, Long Island, N.Y., was founded in 1968. This year the college will celebrate 54 years of teaching court reporting, and we are all quite proud of the longevity of the program.
The mission of LIBI is to provide current and relevant career and technical training leading to employment; provide a well-rounded experience to develop a broad range of skills that are required for today’s market; and instill in all students the importance of lifelong learning.
Since March of 2020 when COVID-19 hit, the day-to-day learning experiences for our students have changed dramatically; but the faculty and staff at LIBI, through hard work and dedication to the students’ success, have overcome the obstacles that COVID-19 has put in our path. Overnight, faculty and students had to change from a brick-and-mortar program to remote learning while at the same time dealing with the numerous problems that arose in their families and personal lives. Many moms had to adapt to their children becoming remote learners, and some LIBI students who had been working full- or part-time jobs were now working from home too. There just didn’t seem to be enough computers in their homes or fast enough internet service to do everything. Everyone also had to up their game in technology and learn different platforms. Names such as Google Teams and Zoom became household words, and everybody had to “pivot and lean in” for this “new normal” transition.
All of our instructors, who were court reporters, know fully the dedication and diligence required for a student to complete the court reporting program under normal circumstances. Our faculty was now ready to face the challenges ahead that this pandemic created, and they didn’t just give 100 percent of their time; they went above and beyond and gave even more. Faculty provided extra tutoring for the students who had hit a speed plateau; they also lent books and equipment to students as our vendors, stores, and libraries were closed; and our CAT instructor met with students in an outside area to help solve technical problems with their steno machines.
As they say, “It takes a village,” and we had to reach out to the village for assistance during these trying times. Court reporting agencies responded to our requests and allowed students who were doing their internships to sit in on Zoom proceedings and fulfill their internship requirements. The official court reporters for those proceedings were kind enough to take the time after the proceedings to answer any of the students’ questions, and many of these working reporters took the interns under their wings and became mentors. Principals of court reporting agencies graciously visited the high-speed classes online and updated the students on all of the various facets of Zoom reporting – zeroing in on the professionalism that was required at all times. Guest speakers from other companies also remotely joined classes to speak with our students. The accountant informed the students of the various tax issues that were involved in being a 1099 employee. A life coach spoke about everything from writing a thank-you email following a job interview to continuing one’s education after graduating and becoming credentialed in the field. As it is mandatory for freelance reporters in New York to pass the Notary Public exam and become commissioned, the owner of a local company that provides prep training for the Notary Public exam offered to hold special classes for our students.
Now as the village came together to ensure that even during these difficult times the students were receiving instruction in the broad range of skills needed in the court reporting industry, the students began to adapt to the changes, graduated, and became gainfully employed in the field of court reporting.
Frankly, we do not believe that we could have accomplished all we did during the horrible days of COVID-19 without being a school that believes in the importance of having an instructor in all of our dictation classes. That instructor who comes into the classroom each day has the opportunity to know his or her students and can LEAD students to success by providing live dictation in all areas of reporting, answering the students’ questions immediately, being able to critique the students following a readback in class, reviewing students’ notes for accuracy, and instilling the much-needed soft skills that will assist in building the students’ confidence and success. Faculty are always there to listen to the students, encourage the students, advise the students, and help them develop a plan for success.
Looking back over the 54 years that LIBI has been educating students in the field of court reporting, we often ask the question: Where are our graduates now? How are all those graduates doing? And the answers from graduates are:
- Many became entrepreneurs and own court reporting agencies on Long Island, and one owns a CART agency.
- Others are employed by the New York State Unified Court System, New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, Suffolk County Legislature, and the grand jury, just to name a few.
- One graduate has traveled extensively and not only worked in many different states but has also worked internationally in Dubai.
- Two have returned to higher education and become attorneys.
It is extremely rewarding to know that LIBI has made a difference in the lives of many of its students.
Here is what one student had to share about the program
I enrolled in the LIBI court reporting program in April 2021. The progress I have achieved so far is inspiring me every day to push forward even harder. The teachers, of course, have an immense impact on my daily learning experience. In a world where everything is questionable, it is refreshing and comforting to have instructors who truly want to help the students not only succeed, but to achieve with the highest degree of excellence.
The combined structures of the in-class time using various teaching methods and resources and the self-propelled practice requirements have provided me a platform which enables me to design and execute my path towards the goal of becoming a professional court reporter. The teachers at LIBI are very encouraging and knowledgeable, and clearly communicate the rigorousness of the course and the absolute need to practice daily to reach the goals. I appreciate the professional atmosphere between the students and all staff, and the accessibility of the prompt, courteous communication available. I feel like the LIBI administrators and instructors are truly invested in the success of all the students.
This encouragement reinforces my confidence and strengthens my faith in my abilities.
I look forward to completing the course and hitting the ground running.
Selena May Zepf, Southampton, N.Y.
LIBI student and NCRA member
Michelle Houston is campus director of the Long Island Business Institute, Commack Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.