DMACC Court Reporting Career Fair

What started out as a request for students to visit District 7 turned into a full-blown court reporting career fair! It all started a year ago when Jeanne Jacobs and Karla Lester, RMR, CRR, members of the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA), invited us to bring the court reporting students to their district so they could show them what a great place it is to work.

That seemed like a great idea and something the students would enjoy. But we realized that other folks would probably request that we visit their districts as well. I could see us traveling in a school bus all over the state. Oh, but we’ve got classes to teach and tests to pass.

After visiting with ICRA President Rachel Waterhouse, RPR, we decided that a career fair might be a good solution. The event was originally scheduled in February during Court Reporting & Captioning Week but was canceled because of bad weather.

On April 2, six court reporters, one district court administrator, two judges, four freelance firm owners, and the interim director of human resources for the Iowa Judicial Branch came to the Newton campus of the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Des Moines, Iowa. The top speed students talked with employers first; then the middle speed students; and finally, the theory students. 

Following the fair, employers and DMACC administration and faculty members participated in a roundtable discussion on strategies for recruiting students and building the college’s court reporting program.

Theory students reported feeling a little nervous, even intimidated, at first. However, they all had great comments about how much they learned and how friendly everyone was. Following are sample comments from theory students:

  • My favorite part was that every single court reporter loves their job.
  • I truly appreciated the openness and friendliness of everyone wanting to see all of us succeed.
  • I believe that only good can come out of it. I was intimidated at first, but the conversation was easy and natural.
  • This was a great opportunity for us to feel a more confident in the profession.
  • I feel a little more connected in the court reporting community.
  • It helped me see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • I think it is a great idea to repeat this event annually. It benefits both employers and students.  Employers get to “sell” their firm or district and students get to see all of the options they have.
  • Please have this event annually. I wanted to stay at every table longer!

Second-year students offered these comments:

  • One thing I really appreciated was that all employers, whether freelance or official, asked me what route I was interested in taking. They were all kind and gracious regardless of whether or not I was considering their area or method of reporting. The overall atmosphere of the job fair was one of enthusiasm and excitement for the new reporters who will be working all throughout Iowa. I feel very fortunate to have been educated in this state filled with professional and welcoming reporters.
  • All of the interactions I had with different employers were extremely positive and very encouraging. I am anxious to begin the job application process and to see what the future holds. I am confident that whatever path I choose will include seasoned and accomplished reporters willing to help me along the way.
  • All in all, the experience was nothing short of amazing and much needed for everyone.
  • I think every table offered the opportunity that if I ever wanted to sit in and shadow for a day, that I am more than welcome to. Everyone was so thoughtful and encouraging. It was great to feel like a professional that day, and I hope DMACC continues to provide this opportunity in the future.
  • I honestly don’t think the day could have gone any better. I really enjoyed talking to everyone. I will keep an open mind, as I get closer to graduation, to both freelancing and official, because both offer great job opportunities.
  • Everyone I spoke to was nice, and it sounds like there are many wonderful places I can work in the future. I am excited to see where I will end up.

Thank you to all of the employers listed below:

District 5:                    Chelsey Wheeler, RPR, official court reporter

District 6:                    Sarah Hyatt, RPR, official court reporter and the Hon. Judge Lars Anderson

District 7:                    Karla Lester, RMR, CRR, freelance court reporter

Jeanne Jacobs, court reporter

District 8:                    Kailey Booten, court reporter

                                    Kari Diggins, RPR, official court reporter

                                    Heidi Baker, district court administrator

                                    The Hon. Judge Mary Ann Brown

Iowa Judicial District: Jessica Holmes, interim director of human resources

Sarah Dittmer, RPR, freelance court reporter

Susan Frye, RPR, freelance court reporter and owner of Susan Frye Court Reporting

Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, and owner of Huney-Vaughn Reporting

Sean Sweeney, owner of Sweeney Court Reporting

2019 NCRA Convention & Expo speakers

The following reporters and captioners will be speaking as part of the student track at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event will run Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.

Read the session descriptions here.

Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, CSR, FCRR

Jo Ann Bryce has been a reporter for more than 42 years. She is currently an official reporter for the Northern District of California San Francisco Federal Court. Bryce is a five-time National Realtime Champion, and at the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo in San Francisco, she won both the National Speed and Realtime Contests. In total, she has five gold medals.

Amie R. First

Amie R. First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE

Amie R. First, Realtime Systems Administrator, has been passionate about court reporting since starting school.  She freelanced for several years and then caught the captioning bug working as a CART Provider at Kent State University in Ohio for a decade (and getting a pretty good education).  She was also a broadcast captioner for five years covering news, sports, webinars, earning calls, in addition to providing large-screen CART for seminars and graduation ceremonies. 

Nine years ago, she took her realtime skills to Orlando, Fla., when she accepted a federal official position in the Middle District of Florida where she has covered many realtime/daily trials. In Florida, she found the love of her life, Shane, and is getting married this fall in her hometown Minerva, Ohio.

First has served on the board of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA) and is a recipient of the association’s Martin Fincun and Diplomat awards. She has served on several committees for OCRA and NCRA in addition to mentoring students and new professionals. 

Mike Hensley

Michael Hensley, RDR

Mike Hensley is a new reporter who is raising the bar for what new professionals can achieve. In just three years of court reporting, he is already a certified RDR. He also holds a position on the board of directors for the California Court Reporters Association and serves as chair of NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory Committee. As a freelance deposition reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hensley handles highly technical patent cases as well as complex medical and pharmaceutical subject matter. He does all this while providing realtime to clients and lightning-fast turnaround on final transcripts. His high energy and enthusiasm fuel his desire to help others succeed and achieve their full potential as court reporters.

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag has been reporting nearly 40 years as an official, freelancer, firm owner, and occasional CART provider and has been a member of NCRA for the entirety. She has given countless seminars for reporters, students, vendors, and educators and holds NCRA’s highest credentials. She has served in multiple committee positions and numerous state and national leadership positions, including as president of NCRA. She became a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters in 2001.

Debbie Kriegshauser

Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, RSA, IL-CSR, MO-CCR

Debbie Kriegshauser is currently a federal official reporter with the U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mo. She has been a reporter since 1980 and has worked in all phases of the reporting profession. She also has served on numerous national and state committees, including her current service on the NCRA Student/Teacher Committee.

Saba McKinley

Saba McKinley, RPR, CRI, CSR

Saba McKinley has been reporting since 1991 as an official and court reporter pro tem. In 2010, she included CART captioning as part of her professional services.  McKinley served on the California Court Reporters Board (CCRA) of Directors from 2013-2015 and currently serves on both the CCRA and the NCRA’s Captioning committees.

She is on the speaker rosters for both CCRA and NCRA and loves talking to students about the court reporting industry. 

After attending CCRA’s Boot Camp, McKinley was inspired to begin offering both onsite and off-site trainings on the essentials necessary to provide effective CART captioning services. 

Phoebe Moorhead

Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR

Phoebe Moorhead is a freelance court reporter and is currently president of the Utah Court Reporters Association.

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC,

Alan Peacock has more than 30 years’ experience in the court reporting, CART, and CART Captioning fields. He lives in Mobile, Ala.

Lindsay Stoker

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRC

Lindsay Stoker is a freelance captioner with more than 11 years of experience. Her specialties include remote captioning and broadcast work. She travels frequently to caption conferences, often with thousands in attendance. She lives in Los Angeles, Calif., with her husband, Brandon, and her four sons.

Jeffrey Weigl

Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRS(A)

Now in his 13th year in the industry, Jeffrey Weigl is the president of WizCap Realtime Reporting Inc., and splits his time between legal reporting, on-site captioning, and everything that comes with running a boutique firm. Weigl’s passion for speed building and shorthand theory refinement has been highlighted by two NCRA Speed Contest wins along with multiple Realtime Contest medals.

Darlene Williams

Darlene Williams, RPR, CMRS

Darlene Williams has been a freelance reporter since 1985. Her career has taken her around the country to work all matters of litigation, including medical malpractice, intellectual property, construction, and the like. In her present position with Planet Depos, she acts as a mentor to students of the Planet Institute program, teaching them how to prepare transcripts and helping to bridge the gap between graduation from reporting school to taking their first job.

Doug Zweizig

Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, FCCR

A 1989 graduate of Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Pennsylvania College), Doug Zweizig earned his associate degree and moved to Philadelphia, Pa., from a small town in 1989, where he began work as a freelance court reporter. In 2001 Zweizig began as an official court reporter in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. After many rewarding years there, in 2014, he accepted a position in the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland, where he’s currently working. He is a two-time NCRA Realtime Contest Champion, has placed third overall four times, second overall once, and third overall in his very first speed contest. He has 17 medals in both realtime and speed: seven gold, four silver, six bronze.

Read session descriptions here

Find full event schedule here

Register here

2019 NCRA Convention & Expo Student Track Sessions

Read the presenter bios here.

Check out this year’s NCRA Convention & Expo student sessions. We bring back a couple of old favorites and two new sessions. Students also get a chance to kick off the weekend with a students-only breakfast where they can get an overview of the convention and make connections with other students. Don’t miss the Meet and Greet with the NCRA Board of Directors.

Steno Speed Dating

As the seminar’s name implies, it will consist of 10 stellar reporters sitting with a small group of students for 10-minute long “speed dates.” The students will have 10 minutes to ask their questions before switching off to the next reporter for their next “date.”

Presenters:  Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, CSR, FCRR;  Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE; Mike Hensley, RDR; Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, RSA, IL-CSR, MO-CCR; Saba McKinley, RPR, CRI, CSR; Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI; Kelly Shainline, RPR, CRR; Lindsey Stoker, RPR, CRC; Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, CSR(A); and Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, FCRR.


You Want Me to Do What? I Didn’t Learn That in School….

Court reporting is more than putting words on a page.  In this seminar you will learn some common transcript preparation pitfalls young reporters encounter and how to avoid them.  The presenter will share some tricks of the trade, as well as helpful research tools and how to use them.  Come for the information but stay for the “goodies.”

Presenter:  Darlene Williams, RPR, CMRS

Darlene Williams

Good Reporter/Bad Reporter

This audience-participation skit touches on professional etiquette and mannerisms in conducting oneself at work. Learn the tools of the trade to win over clientele for freelance work or get hired for overflow work in a judicial proceeding. Why some people “have it” and others just simply don’t. Be prepared to laugh!

Presenters: Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, RSA, IL-CSR, MO-CCR


Student Jeopardy

A fun and interactive “Jeopardy” game that will cover such topics as: the history of court reporting, spelling, homonyms/synonyms, vocabulary, and courtroom procedures. Students will learn some of the trickier English and grammar rules that we encounter every day and will be quizzed on the types of questions found on the RPR Written Knowledge Test. Be on the team who answers the most questions correctly and win a prize!

Presenters: Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, RSA, IL-CSR, MO-CCR, and Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR

Find full event schedule here

Register here

Congratulations to the Student Speed Contest Winners

Madalyn Massey
Kelly Madden
Rachel Marr

Schools across the country once again participated in this year’s NCRA student speed contest. The contest was held in celebration of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and gave students the chance to test their speed skills on Literary and Q&A tests. Madalyn Massey, of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, was awarded first prize. Kelly Madden, of Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., was awarded second prize, and Rachel Marr of the Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning, Tampa, Fla., was awarded third prize.

“I first got interested in the Realtime Reporting program because of a family friend, who is now my wonderful mentor,” said Massey. “It also became a huge motivation for me to get a job where I would be sitting due to an ankle injury I received in high school. I really need a job where I am stationary, and I became even more interested in the career field after seeing firsthand the dedication, professionalism, and passion involved in the court reporting field.”

Massey is set to graduate in December.

Second place winner Madden is returning to court reporting after an 18-year hiatus. A graduate of Sheridan Vocational Technical Institute, Hollywood, Fla., she is back at Atlantic Technical to hone her skills and get to back to the career she loved so much.

Marr is a mother of three who got into court reporting by chance. “I had to leave my radiology program when I was pregnant and while I was on my leave, I talked to an attorney who said that if she had a chance to do it all over again, she would be a court reporter. That piqued my interest, so I started looking into what exactly that detailed [in terms of] school, money, certifications etc.” 

The Mardi Gras-themed contest, sponsored by NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, was open to students in any court reporting program, at any speed level. Ninety-three students from 10 schools took the tests. One Literary and one Q&A test were given, and each consisted of five minutes of dictation at a speed that each student was either currently working on or had just passed.

In order to be eligible to win a prize, students must have passed the test with at least 96 percent accuracy. The tests, written by Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, a member of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, were designed so that the speed could be adjusted to fit the student’s speed.

A total of 25 students passed at least one test. Three of those who passed were chosen at random to receive the winners’ beads. As the gold bead, or first prize winner, Massey received an RPR Study Guide ($125 value). Madden, the purple bead, or second prize winner, was awarded the choice of a one-year NCRA student membership ($46 value) or one complimentary leg of the RPR Skills Test ($72.50 value). The winner of the green beads, Marr, won a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Many thanks to Kriegshauser for her hard work writing the speed tests and preparing the other testing materials. The contest would not have been possible without her.

NCRA would like to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Below are the names of all the students who participated in this year’s contest. Students marked with an asterisk passed the test with 96 percent accuracy or higher.

Atlantic Technical College

Coconut Creek, Fla.

Kelly Madden*          

Victor Laznik 

Amber King   

Lynn Corbet   

Brown College of Court Reporting

Atlanta, Ga.

Parker Burton

David Gee      

Shirley Johnson          

DeLeon Little

Chris Tomko  

College of Court Reporting

Valparaiso, Ind.

Kerri Huff      

Natasha Wentzel        

Patricia Lopez*          

Des Moines Area Community College

Newton, Iowa

Madelyn Schmidt*    

Madison Rowland     

Madalyn Massey*      

Green River College

Auburn, Wash.

Ashley Dixon*           

Spencer Holesinsky   

Justin Choi     

Sarah Webb   

Mariah Banta*

Alexandra Fleming    

Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning

Tampa, Fla.

Michele Buono*

Rachel Marr*

Casey Venoitte*

Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting

Houston, Texas

Christy Nowotny       

Pearl Gonzalez           

Cayley Rodrigue        

Macomb Community College

Clinton Township, Mich.

Allison Boggess         

Jennifer Mitrevski      

LaTasha Lindsey       

Allison Grawburg      

Carla Stark     

Kim Champagne        

Jackie Felker  

Robin Fisette  

Dorothy Strong          

Robert Ludkiig          

Kelly Mason  

Alicia Urbinati           

NAIT

Edmonton, AB Canada       

Andriana Bilous

Angeline Jacobsen

Caprice Albert

Elizabeth Fossen

Emily Ferdinand

Ericah Crumback

Jasmine Hallis

Jennifer Friesen

Jodie Kostiw

Joseph Nudelman

Julia Desrosiers

Katherine Gallin

Kayla Velthuis-Kroeze

Kelcy Sherbank

Kristina Zeller

Krystal Truong

Lucie Titley

Marie Foreman

Meagan Gibson

Michael Thomas

Robin Tarnowetzki

Roxanna Doctor

Sara Pelletier

Tyler Hopkins

Abby Robinson

Amanda Hebb

Ariana McCalla*

Bradley Morrison

Julie Layton*

Lora Zabiran

McKaya Baril*

Michelle Stevens

Netannys Turner-Wiens

Presley Thomson

Sarah Pfau

Shauna Lagore*

Stephanie Jabbour

Yazda Khaled

Plaza College

Forest Hills, N.Y.

Paula Mullen*

Taylor Mascari*

Bianna Lewis*           

Letizia Yemma*        

Michelle Paluszek*    

Elisabeth Dempsey*  

Dishawn Williams*    

Maia Morgan*

Alexandra Bourekas*

Rachel Salatino*        

Emily Nicholson*      

Tikiya Etchison*        

Christina Penna          

Shane Perry    

Pedro Santiago           

Cecilia Miranda

Schools in the News

The court reporting program at MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill., was recently featured in a report regarding court reporting on Chicago Tonight which is a local PBS program.

Read more.

A Convention to Remember

Attending an NCRA Convention & Expo is a great experience for students. Last year, students attended special sessions teaching them proper courtroom behavior, online skills testing, professional working tips, and more. These students share their experiences attending their first national convention. 

Marina Garcia

Marina Garcia

Alvin, Texas

Alvin Community College

As court reporting students, our gospel is to practice, practice, practice; but sometimes we forget how equally important it is to surround ourselves with positive support and mentors. As a student, frustration becomes our normal.  We need some type of fresh air to regain our motivation, and that is exactly what I experienced at the 2018 NCRA Convention. The ambience is inspiring, electric, and most of all, fun. It was exactly what I needed to regain my motivation from burnout.

My biggest takeaway from the convention was seeing my future self in these amazing reporters because they, too, were once in our shoes. It was an honor to listen to the special guest speaker, witness the winners of the speed and realtime contests, and attend the student sessions to meet other reporters and students from all over the nation. The convention unravels the real world of court reporting and captioning outside of our classrooms to show us how worthwhile it is to work hard, never give up, and never stop trying to improve our skills. I’m already looking forward to attending as many conventions as I possibly can.

Ezra Campbell

Ezra Campbell 

Athens, Ga.

Studying for his RPR

Attending the 2018 NCRA conference in New Orleans, La., was a special experience for me for a couple of reasons. For one, it was my first court reporting conference, and I attended as a student. I was overwhelmed at first, but it proved to be a great learning experience.  I did not regret putting myself out there and meeting other students, as well as many knowledgeable working reporters and captioners. The kicker came with the fact that it was located at the Hyatt Regency, where I used to work as a barista. It was both a familiar and an exciting environment, and I came away even more determined to launch my career.

Parker Burton

Parker Burton
Atlanta, Ga.
Brown College of Court Reporting

In August of 2018, I had the opportunity to attend my first NCRA convention as a student. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about what to expect, who I would meet, whether the professionals would have time to entertain my questions, and whether I would feel like an outcast among the other students. I am happy to report that my preconceived notions were all incorrect. After attending the convention in the vibrant city of New Orleans, La., I was more motivated by my fellow students and armed with more advice than I could ever have hoped to obtain.

I would encourage all students who are members of NCRA to make it a priority to plan early to attend the next NCRA convention, in Denver, Colo. There is so much information to gather and networking to be done that will be beneficial to your future endeavors, both as a student and then as a professional.  All the information you learn in school is valuable, but the experience of attending an NCRA convention and sharing ideas, successes, struggles, and helpful hints with like-minded people from across the country and beyond will help accelerate your skills and encourage you to push further.

See you in Denver!

Logan Kislingbury

Logan Kislingbury

Houston, Texas

Mark Kislingbury’s Academy of Court Reporting

The 2018 NCRA convention in New Orleans, La., was my first convention experience as a court reporting student and NCRA member. I’ve been to plenty of conventions in the past with my dad, but I treated them only as vacations. One of the biggest changes that I noticed as a student was what the convention hall really provided. What was once a place full of seemingly endless booths of free candy, popcorn, and freebies, became a small city, because I understood what each booth was and what that company stood for. The main benefit of the convention hall changed from candy to networking. I met a lot of passionate people who each had different stories and were so happy to see a new student entering the field. Leaving with more than 15 business cards felt great; I’m very excited to keep in contact with these people in the future! 

Another part of the convention I’d never experienced was taking classes. I participated in some student classes where I learned about the differences between freelancing and officials, how realtime worked, and what you can do with it, and the huge world of opportunities that becoming a court reporter opens. I made friends with other students who know the struggles and accomplishments of school just like I do. Plenty of court reporters volunteered their time just to help us and answer our questions solely because they care so much about the profession. I had so much fun and learned so much in New Orleans last year. And I’ll do it all again in Denver this year!

Coping with test anxiety

By Kay Moody

“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to advance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, inaugural address, 1933

Students repeatedly say they miss passing a test because of nerves or test anxiety. Almost all court reporters will tell you they experienced nervousness and shaking hands on tests, but they learned how to cope with test anxiety! There are proven relaxation techniques.

  1. EXERCISE: 
    1. Release tension with what’s known as the “tense-relax method.”  Make a fist; clench your fists as hard as you can. Keep them tightly clenched as long as possible. Then relax. For total relaxation, clench your fists, tighten your jaw, straighten your legs,and tense your abdomen all at once—right before a test. Then let go and take a deep breath. 
    2. Do a mini-aerobic workout: 10 jumping jacks, sit ups, touch your toes, run in place for five minutes, etc. If you have a treadmill, run on it until you’re breathing deeply.
  2. IMAGING: To relieve tension during a test, use guided imagery. Before taking a test, relax completely and take a quick fantasy trip. Close your eyes; relax your body;and imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful, pastoral setting. Create as much of the scene as you can. Use all your senses: soft music, a candle, perfume, aroma therapy.
  3. BE POSITIVE: Substitute negative thoughts and emotions with pleasant, positive images: eating a hot fudge sundae, taking a nap on the beach, seeing your best friend, hugging a loved one, having a romantic weekend, etc. Think about these positive images before and during a test. Put a small picture of your favorite fantasy in front of you and look at it during the test. Take the test with a smile on your face. Post a happy emoji on your machine. 
  4. IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING: There are a number of reasons you’re nervous.
    1. Too much caffeine:  coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate.
    2. Skipping meals, particularly breakfast. 
    3. Holding your breath. Breathe deeply while working on speed building dictation. When you feel nervous, inhale deeply.
    4. Poor circulation. Drop your head between your knees and stay in that position for a few minutes.
    5. Lack of endorphins. Laughter creates endorphins. Laugh hard.  Laugh out loud or silently. Laugh until your sides ache. Laugh for a couple of minutes.
    6. Cold hands and cold feet. Put on shoes and socks. Cold feet produce shaking hands. Keep both your feet and hands warm. 
    7. Not enough rest. Get a good night’s sleep before test day.
  5. USE VISUALIZING TECHNIQUES:  Feel professional. Dress properly to perform better. If you feel like a professional, it will be easier to imagine that you are a professional court reporter.
  6. KEEP A TEST DIARY: Divide each page into two sections: “Strong Tests” and “Weak Tests.” Keep a journal of what you did prior to the strong tests and/or prior to the weak tests. Indicate the following:
    1. What did you eat or drink before the test? 
    2. Did you have a cigarette right before a test?
    3. What time of day/night did you take the test? Was it at the beginning or end of the week? 
    4. Did you warm up before the test? What material did you use? How fast was your warm-up material?
    5. Did you have a focal point during the test?
    6. Did you practice breathing? visualizing? exercising?
    7. What did you think about during the test?
    8. Were you rested? Did you get a good night’s sleep?

In conclusion, don’t let anxiety prevent you from passing a test. Identify why you’re nervous; apply specific relaxation techniques prior to and during a test;and adjust your surroundings to help you stay calm and focused.

The Importance of belonging to state and national court reporting associations

Leah Hamre

By Leah Hamre

We’ve all heard it before, “Team work is dream work.” How about, “None of us is as smart as all of us,” a quote from Ken Blanchard? Or, as Helen Keller stated, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”?

Being a part of an organization opens up doors that you may not have known existed and exposes you to opportunities, ideas, and people that challenge you and make you a better person.  I’m attending Anoka Technical College in Minnesota, and I have quickly learned how important it is that we take care of each other and our profession.

Court reporting is not as prominent as nursing or information technology but it’s just as honorable and important. The best way to educate and inform others, as well as learn and grow as a professional, is by joining an organization like the National Court Reporter Association (NCRA).

NCRA is the pinnacle of court reporter associations as they set the standards for court reporters and captioners. This popular organization really has something for everyone. Throughout the year, you can stay involved through awards and contests, continuing education, and incredible networking opportunities.

NCRA started with a small group of passionate shorthand reporters more than 100 years ago. The first convention was in 1899 in Chicago, Ill., with an attendance of 156. Last year’s convention, held in New Orleans, La., hosted 1,072 of the best court reporters in the nation! The NCRA Convention & Expo offers training sessions on software, updates on the latest and greatest technology, speakers, tips and tricks for efficient writing, and games, all while offering credit toward continuing education. Registration is now available for the 2019 convention being held Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.

On the other hand, not joining an organization gives you a lot less credibility when you have an opinion about our industry. I think Dale Carnegie said it best: “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain- and most fools do.” Have you ever noticed that the people who are always complaining aren’t doing anything to fix the problem?

If you’re unwilling to succumb to complacency and want to be the best person and reporter you can be, NCRA is the place to be. And don’t stop there, join as many organizations as possible. You can simply take advantage of the visibility and career opportunities or dive in and actively participate by becoming a mentor or joining a committee.

Whether you’re in school and wondering where you’ll land your dream job, looking for a change, or just want to help others, I urge you to invest in your future and mine, through NCRA membership.

Leah Hamre is a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn.

Remaining dates for 2019 NCRA A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand online program announced

NCRA’s A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand online program offers the perfect opportunity for potential students to learn the alphabet in steno, write on a real machine, and decide if pursuing an education in court reporting or captioning is the right choice.

This free six-week program is a hybrid course combining both live online instructor sessions with videos and dictation materials for self-paced practice. The remaining dates for 2019 course offerings are listed below:

Summer
June 11 – July 23 — Asynchronous*

Fall
Aug. 21 – Sept. 25 — 8:30 p.m. ET**
Sept. 4 – Oct. 16 — Asynchronous*
Oct. 8 – Nov. 19 — 7 p.m. ET**

*Participants complete the program at their own pace during the six weeks
**Classes are held once a week for one hour over the course of six weeks

NCRA urges members to share this information with anyone who might be interested in pursuing a career in court reporting or captioning. For more information about the NCRA A to Z program, visit AtoZDiscoverSteno.org, or contact Ellen Goff, Assistant Director, Professional Development at schools@ncra.org. You can also find more information at Frequently Asked Questions.

NCRA A to Z Alumna Profile: From A to Z to RPR in two years

Taylor Lauren Nirschl

Next month, NCRA will have its first known court reporting program graduate who started in an NCRA A to ZTM  Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. Taylor Lauren Nirschl from Combined Locks, Wis., will be graduating in May with an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Court Reporting from Lakeshore Technical College, and she will also have another credential behind her name: RPR. Nirschl has some advice for students who are considering taking an A to Z program.

JCR | Is court reporting your first choice of career?

TLN | I would say yes, since my dad has been talking to me about court reporting since seventh grade. My dad works at a workforce development center. I did change my mind a couple of times, but I would always come back to court reporting.

JCR | What attracted you to learn more about it?

TLN | My dad told me how much money court reporters made.  As a seventh grader, that really got my attention. But as I got older, my attraction was more about the technology they use on their job, being in a courtroom, and just thinking about how important their job really is.

JCR | How did you hear about the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | My parents mentioned that I should go sit with someone to see if this was something I wanted to do. I went back to the school to see if I could get a recommendation on a local court reporter to shadow, and that’s when I met Lori Baldauf.  While I was asking questions about shadowing a court reporter, Lori gave me a flyer about the program.

JCR | What prompted you to sign up for the program?

TLN | I had already signed up for the court reporting program [at Lakeshore Technical College] before I signed up for the A to Z program. I was waiting for school to begin. When Lori shared the information, I decided to sign up.

JCR | What surprised you most about learning steno in the A to Z program?

TLN | How you must learn a whole new alphabet; and the letters are not on the keys. The way you learn how to remember the keys. 

JCR | How soon after completing the A to Z program did you enroll in Lakeshore Technical College?

TLN | I took A to Z in the spring of 2017 and started court reporting school in the summer of 2017. I’m waiting to graduate next month!

JCR | Did you test for any NCRA certifications while in school?

TLN | Yes, I did.  I took the three legs of the RPR certification from October through December 2018 and the Written Knowledge Test in January 2019.  I passed the Written Knowledge Test my first time taking it. When I passed my Lit leg at school, I took the Lit leg of the RPR. It took me two times to pass the Lit leg, but only one time to pass the Jury and Testimony legs. I found testing for the RPR after I passed my legs in school helped me stay on track. I also had an added incentive from my teacher: get my RPR and I’m done with classes.  

JCR | What do you plan to do when you graduate – official, freelancer, broadcast captioner, CART provider?

TLN | I’d like to take a little break since I’ve gone straight through school. However, I would love to work in the court where Lori works, but they don’t have an opening yet. I’ve thought about doing CART.

JCR | What would you say to others considering career choices to encourage them to enroll in the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | I would definitely encourage anyone interested in court reporting to take the NCRA A to Z program. I think that is what got me through school so fast. It gives you a great head start above everyone else. You already know your letters, so you are able to focus on your short forms and theory. I also think I had more confidence when I started the program and when I attended orientation. When I attended orientation, we got an opportunity to write on the machines. I remembered my letters and easy words like “egg.” I also already knew a few people from participating in NCRA A to Z, which provided me with a ready-made community.

Taylor is currently working toward earning NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification. For more information on the NCRA A to Z program or to learn about the court reporting and captioning professions, visit DiscoverSteno.org.