Students and teachers learn to cope with COVID-19

When stay-at-home orders were put in place across the country, brick-and-mortar schools were forced to shut their doors. The last couple of months have been challenging, but court reporting programs have found ways to adapt and serve the needs of their students during this unusual time. Whether they already had online programs in place, or are starting from scratch, everyone is learning to transition. Up-to-Speed asked teachers and students, “How are you coping with COVID-19?”


My speed building students are rocking right along in their daily assignments since we have the use of Blackboard at GSCC and Realtime Coach for all students. Since we are a brick and mortar school, the students are not fond of being absent from the classroom, their classmates, and the environment of being in school, but they are doing fine. Most prefer to be at school rather than home because school is their place of focus.

Testing has become much more of a challenge online because they get better feedback being in the classroom rather than getting it in an email. It has increased my workload tremendously to give them feedback on daily homework, classwork, and tests since I am not able to sit face-to-face with them. However, we are all adjusting and making it OK. I have actually had two graduate at the end of April!

I have made myself available as much as possible by using Facetime, texting, or phone calls. We are constantly coming up with new ways to make this transition of temporary online schooling as smooth as possible.

Our college has not yet determined when we will be back in the classroom, but hopefully it will be before summer is over, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” It’s a Southern thing. 😉

Leah M. Elkins, CRI, CCR Instructor/Advisor, Gadsden State Community College (GSCC), Gadsden, Ala.


Many people may feel that online learning is difficult, but I love the flexibility of it. Since life as we know it has changed due to COVID 19, online learning is the perfect option for someone who is looking for a career path or a career change.

I currently work in a skilled nursing facility in which there are patients and staff who are COVID positive. Life is very stressful caring for these sick people and then worrying that I could possibly get my family sick. I have days in which I may work long hours and then days that may be much shorter. Due to this uncertainty and chaos, the ability to take every class online for the captioning and court reporting program has been wonderful. I am able to practice on the steno machine at my own convenience which could be before work on some days or after the kids go to bed on other days. Even though the course load may feel overwhelming at times, the ability to do the work during my free time has been a blessing.

For me, if I were doing a traditional in-class learning schedule, I would not be as successful. There would not be enough time in the day to go to class, work full time, and be able to spend quality time with by children and husband. Online learning was the perfect option for me.

Allison Berg, student, Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio


Even though SimplySteno has been exclusively online for the last 15 years, changes have been made during Covid-19 to increase the social aspect of the program in these times when social distancing is encouraged. That has meant adding more live classes, which is another opportunity for students to see other students. In addition, Covid-19 has inspired us to create an online social network exclusively for our students – a safe space where they can share their stories with others in the SimplySteno program. 

Marc Greenberg, CRI, SimplySteno


Our spring semester took on a new look due to COVID-19. We were actually one step ahead of the “new normal” by already starting to use a platform called Bluejeans to teach from, as well as for the students to attend classes from. We had started a pilot program using Bluejeans in the fall of 2018 to allow students who did not have access to one of our shared-program technical colleges to attend our program from their home or a place where they had the required internet capability. So, when the safer-at-home order hit, we were up and running immediately. All students just attended their live classes on their regular schedules via Bluejeans from their homes.

Jackie Rupnow, RPR, CRI, our other instructor, and I had a few challenges in getting all our materials together and utilizing my husband and Jackie’s daughter for our second voice for our testimony classes. We thank them both for stepping in to keep our students on track! We did also set up speed tests through Realtime Coach just in case for April and May, which the college paid for so there was no cost to the students for that additional Realtime Coach feature. 

With that said, all students were able to complete their spring courses, and we had one graduate for the spring semester. 

Barbi Galarno, RPR, CRI, M.S.Ed., Court Reporting Instructor, Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland, Wisc.


It seemed as if the crisis just snuck up on all of us locally and around the country. We were all watching the news and aware of the statistics surrounding the virus across the country when suddenly, faculty and students at Tri-C were informed that we would all begin to work remotely.

The fact that we had an online program already established alleviated stress for our students as well as our faculty. It was truly a ready-set-go situation for us. Amid all kinds of other frustrations and worries as they determined how to manage changes in their professional workplace, support their children’s teachers, deal with loss of income, and worry about health, our students expressed that their classes were a nice break from those things. Students found tending to coursework without hesitation to be a welcome way to spend their time and a sense of relief while adjusting to their new normal. The need to finish up with their schooling became even more important as many students faced changes in their employment situations.

A community college with access to grants and support, Tri-C provided laptops to nearly 150 students in financial need. It also has programs to help students find other financial support, food sources, and counseling. Overwhelmingly, Tri-C’s students have done very well academically as they shoulder the coronavirus in these uncertain times.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, Program Director, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Parma, Ohio

Stenopalooza inspires student

By Angela Rojo

Did anyone else see posts about Stenopalooza on social media? I can hear my teachers and other professionals in the industry telling me to put my phone down and to get back on my writer. Admittedly, social media is one of my weaknesses and such a time sucker. Anyway, Dineen Squillante, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Arlington, Vt., first planted the seed of attending Stenopalooza in one of her posts. After being invited to the Steno Strong group by Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from North Brunswick, N.J., and catching the infectious positive energy found there, signing up for the all-day seminar was a no-brainer.

I say no-brainer only because being aware of the trends in the industry will help me to be more effective once I transition from the role of student to that of Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR). I want to be able to advocate compellingly for the profession (read, advocate compellingly for myself). My choice to attend Stenopalooza was fueled by my desire to become an in-demand, California CSR. I am a single mom, and school is tough. However, my family would be underserved if I failed to seek information readily available pertaining to my chosen future profession. Honing my writing skill is only one of the elements of playing a vital role in either the system of justice or providing an important service for those with hearing impairments. What do you depend on to stay informed? I depend on my teachers, coach, association conventions, and training events. Oh, and social media.

Out of the nine webinars I watched during Stenopalooza, my favorites were the Lights, Action, ZOOM – Improving the New Normal; Captioning Facebook Live; and POW Knowledge is Power and NCRA is FLEXING. These were among my favorites because I think of them as double-dipping. I learned practical tips and skills that can be utilized immediately in school, and they will also serve me well in my future as a professional.

The presentation about Zoom helped pinpoint some of the connection problems I’ve been running into while transitioning with my school’s now online classes. There were a few absolute light bulb moments! Hello, mesh router!

Completely over the top was the Facebook Live class. Denise Hinxman, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Reno, Nev., expertly walked attendees through clear steps. The presenters began with teaching us to seek out untapped and out-of-the-box opportunities, transitioned to training clients previously unfamiliar with the elevated service value, and really guided us through all the areas necessary to providing a polished, valuable service. My words dull the class a bit, but this presentation had serious value. Dineen ended the seminar with the words, “If we don’t market ourselves, nobody will do it for us.” Let that sink in. “Not out-skilled. We’ll be out-marketed.” Not to strike fear at all, but rather action. Her words prompted me to sit up straighter and pay closer attention. “Don’t assume that all lawyers and consumers of our products know that — what this job entails and the importance and sanctity that comes with it.” 

With all the resources available to us as students, it really is up to us to pass those tests and get out of school. I think of advocating and marketing ourselves as trusted, ethical professionals in the same way. It’s up to us.

In five years – nope, make that one year — I want to be prepared to have a meaningful conversation when the opportunity arises to advocate for myself. Like Rich said, “Look for someone who’s advocating and try to follow.” There are local and national groups, like Steno Strong, where students are invited to participate and get to know our future peers. I encourage you to do so. There are valuable resources available in each group and association I’ve encountered. Don’t be intimidated to get out there and introduce yourself. Attending the Stenopalooza Happy Hour event was a fun opportunity to “see” reporters relaxed and real. Students, we will be out there with our licenses and certifications sooner rather than later. Why not jump in on the socializing and educational activities now? I hope to see you next time!

Angela Rojo is a 180 word-per-minute student attending Argonaut/Charles A. Jones Court Reporter Program in Sacramento, Calif.

If you would like to purchase a webinar from the Stenopalooza event, please visit NCRA’s Continuing Education catalog.

From streaming video games to streaming steno

Brian Binkney

By Brian Binkney

I was raised in rural Arizona and played video games and performed with my band around the state. I joined the U. S. Marine Corps in 1996 and served as a military policeman.  After I was discharged, in 2004, I continued my public service and became a law enforcement officer in Arizona, where I worked for the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Kingman Police Department. I got to work with amazing people, serve my community, wake up with purpose, and care for my family.

At about 40, I was still looking for what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a state of vigilance. I wanted to have purpose but not brace for a fight. I wanted to be able to relax for the first time in more than 20 years and let my body have a break. As I was looking, I worked in a local brewery that was just starting. I sold beer and talked about something I loved, traveling all over Arizona putting on events and getting the beer onto taps. I also worked as a substitute teacher mainly with middle school kids who had behavior problems. But I was still searching, thinking where to go and what to do. I was looking at job boards, looking for what to start, wondering what to do. And, somehow, the idea of court reporting came to me; probably from my wife who has all the great ideas and sees court reporters daily at the courthouse.

This is a profession that gives purpose, can be flexible, and ultimately felt like a challenge I could take on. I started at the College of Court Reporting in 2018 and attend through the Veteran Administration’s (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program. Having the assistance of the VA has made this new career choice possible. I push toward learning new skills and accepting the idea that this will take time. To that end, I decided to share it. I needed something to hold me accountable to my practice, so I decided to stream my practice sessions. I was not expecting anyone to watch. I also didn’t realize that no one else was doing this. I had started streaming video games as a way to stay connected to my family who is far away, so I would stream video games via Streamlabs to Facebook Live and Twitch. It would be me playing video games and chatting with people who were watching. As time went on, I figured I’d give streaming my practice sessions a shot.

Streaming my steno was just another way to share my day. It’s a lonely world of online school where it’s just you doing it. More and more people started following, and it was awesome to interact with other students and officials while practicing. It made it feel more like a classroom environment. The Streamlabs program lets me do scene transitions, overlays, etc. I am able to start a live stream for both Twitch and Facebook from within the program itself and allow people to chat with me. Streamlabs is kind of like my own little TV studio at home. 

Much to my surprise, people wanted to watch and interact. The positive reaction has been incredible and has created a community for me as I push through the difficult process of speed building toward graduation. I’m enjoying sharing what I do. My friends who have no exposure to stenography expressed interest and explained they had no idea what this was before. I also love building a steno community. People are watching me practice and practicing along usually on their own machines in their own CAT software. It’s like a huge practice session for anyone to join. 

Additionally, I appreciate that this holds me accountable to practice daily. I enjoy the conversations that are held during the stream between students and certified court reporters alike. There are funny stories, brief exchanges, and career advice freely exchanged. This is a community I am so proud to be a part of and that I am proud to represent. I finally have a plan for what I am going to do when I grow up.

Brian Binkney is a student at the College of Court reporting in Valparaiso, Ind. Brian’s livestreams can be found on Facebook at Stenogamer and at Twitch.tv/Stenogamer.

2020 Student Speed Contest results

Emma Rosky

A record number of students took part in NCRA’s Student Skills Contest last month. Twelve schools across the country celebrated 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week by participating in the contest. Of the 187 students who took tests, 45 passed either a Literary, Q&A, or both.

“The Student Speed Contest is a wonderful way to challenge students to write their best and a great addition to the battery of celebrations during CR&C week,” said Deborah DuBuc, RPR, CRI, CPE, an instructor at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Newton, Iowa.

NCRA would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 contest. Of the students who passed the five-minute dictation test, three winners were drawn at random. Emma Rosky of DMACC was awarded the Walt Disney Grand Prize, NCRA’s RPR Study Guide.

“Thank you for choosing me!” Rosky told Up-to-Speed, NCRA’s student newsletter. “I found the court reporting program thanks to my mom, who works in the legal field. I’m currently deciding between working as an official or freelance reporter. I look forward to class each day and can’t wait to start my internship this summer!”

DuBuc said she was very excited to hear that Rosky won. “DMACC faculty and staff are very pleased for Emma, who is a dedicated student and a fantastic writer. We can’t wait to see where the profession takes her!”

Eileen Quiles

Second place, or the Mickey Mouse Prize, went to Eileen Quiles, of Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y. She was awarded a free leg of the RPR Skills Test. “I cannot express enough how much court reporting is of interest to me,” Quiles said. “The thought of creating a word-for-word record of proceedings that are transcribed for the use of judges, lawyers, and others involved is exciting and rewarding. Especially now at a time where there is a shortage of reporters, I could not have thought of a better time to do this. My ultimate goal is to one day caption for the New York Yankees!”

Karen Santucci, CRI, director of the court reporting program at Plaza College, was happy to hear that Quiles had won an award. “Eileen is well on her way to becoming a successful working reporter. We just couldn’t be more proud of her – and all of our students – for their dedication to the field,” Santucci said.

Allison Smyth, a student at MacCormac College in Chicago , will receive the Minnie Mouse Prize – a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Allison Smyth

“I love court reporting,” Smyth said, “because though it is a very small, often overlooked career, it is one of the most vital roles in the court system. I feel so lucky to be learning from such amazing teachers and reporters who inspire me to keep pushing every day. I’m eager to finish school and start working alongside my fellow reporters!” 

For this speed test, students had the choice of taking a Literary or a Q&A test consisting of five minutes of dictation. Students took the test at a speed level they were working on or had just passed and must have achieved 96 percent or higher accuracy to be eligible to win a prize. Because the contest was open to students at all levels, schools were able to have some or all of their students involved. Schools saw this as a great way to get the word out about the profession. “Here at Plaza, all of our students who participated were recognized locally on ABC and NY1 news for their hard work,” said Santucci.

Many thanks to Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, an official court reporter from Dallas, Texas, 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.

Name School
Lindsey Polin Atlantic Technical College
Kelly Madden Atlantic Technical College
Shawn Majewski Community College of Allegheny County
Jennifer Hollinger Community College of Allegheny County
Laura McMahon Community College of Allegheny County
Lola Brown Community College of Allegheny County
Emily Diaz Community College of Allegheny County
Jennifer Gale Community College of Allegheny County
Deanna Heckel Community College of Allegheny County
Amy Judge Community College of Allegheny County
Colleen McCleary Community College of Allegheny County
Donna Harrington Community College of Allegheny County
Rachael Syska Community College of Allegheny County
Jace Mascioli Community College of Allegheny County
Katie Wilkerson Community College of Allegheny County
Jonathan MacDonald Community College of Allegheny County
Kristi Kelley* College of Court Reporting
Stephanie Oldeck* College of Court Reporting
Kristi Perkins* College of Court Reporting
Leslie Roesler* College of Court Reporting
Antonia Tucker* College of Court Reporting
Tolisha Belcher College of Court Reporting
Cynthia Bonner College of Court Reporting
Kimberly Coltrain College of Court Reporting
Gabrielle Day College of Court Reporting
Ann Marie Gibson College of Court Reporting
Jill Haefner College of Court Reporting
Keisha Jarrett College of Court Reporting
Larie Kuzma College of Court Reporting
Christil McAllister College of Court Reporting
Brittany Moore College of Court Reporting
Vicki Pelletier College of Court Reporting
Anna Ruemelin College of Court Reporting
Veronica Sandbakken College of Court Reporting
Dianna Schmitz College of Court Reporting
Stacy Shuler College of Court Reporting
Alexis Williams Del Mar College
Natalie Villaveva Del Mar College
Haley Rodriguez Del Mar College
Brice Bovolick Del Mar College
Manuel Torres Del Mar College
Karla Trevino Del Mar College
AdriAnne Avila Del Mar College
Caitlyn Belin Del Mar College
Faith Carrillo Del Mar College
Leanna Alvarez Del Mar College
Amanda Leal Del Mar College
Maloree Trevino Del Mar College
Rosie Rodriguez Del Mar College
Beth Hicks Del Mar College
Andreana Alcidas Del Mar College
Charlotte Pitts Del Mar College
Sarah San Miguel Del Mar College
Savannah Liles Del Mar College
John Whitaker Del Mar College
Emily Kroenig* Des Moines Area Community College
Emma Rosky* Des Moines Area Community College
Hailey Scandridge* Des Moines Area Community College
Kelsey Biggs    Des Moines Area Community College
Camryn Dunne Des Moines Area Community College
Sidney Frey Des Moines Area Community College
Abigail Kahler Des Moines Area Community College
Rebecca Morningstar Des Moines Area Community College
Karlye Walton Des Moines Area Community College
Madalyn Massey Des Moines Area Community College
Sierra Scarnati Des Moines Area Community College
Lonnie Appleby Des Moines Area Community College
Chelsie Byroads* Green River College
Emily Lust* Green River College
Sakara Byroads* Green River College
Megan Speed* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Cristina Ameel* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Ceita Lazar* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Kaitlin McGowan* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Bridget Frederick* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Mandy Perzan* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Ashley McDonald* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Allison Smyth Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Robert Miller* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Jessica Shines* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Jennifer Huss Lakeshore Technical College
Jodie Carrico Lakeshore Technical College
Kim Gorecki Lakeshore Technical College
Robert Ludwig      Macomb Community College
Allison Grawburg  Macomb Community College
Wendy Chunn Macomb Community College
Robin Fisette Macomb Community College
Dorothy Strong Macomb Community College
Erin Bartko* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sophia Dame* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Alexis Hill* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Diana Semler* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Caprice Albert Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jada Babiuk Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Alexandrea Baird Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Barbara Berney Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sara Blackburn Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Karen Collis Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Ericah Crumback Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Julia Desrosiers Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Roxanna Doctor Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Emily Ferdinand Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Marie Foreman Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Elizabeth Fossen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jennifer Friesen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Katherine Gallin Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jasmine Hallis Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kayla Hotte Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Angeline Jacobsen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Eileen Johnson Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Desislava Kancheva Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Deborah Kenakin Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Myung Kyu Kim Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Nicole Leddy Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Anna Marcus Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Michaella Matthies Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Bradley Morrison Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kim Nguyen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Joseph Nudelman Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kaitlyn Paul Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sara Pelletier Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Andrew Penner Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Spencer Reid Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Hanan Rusich Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Carrie Schill Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kelcy Sherbank Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Florence Smith Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Robin Tarnowetzki Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Michael Thomas Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Lucie Titley Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Krystal Truong Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Netannys Turner-Wiens Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Nicole Vanderwolf Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kayla Velthuis-Kroeze Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Daniella Walker Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jennifer Webb Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Diane Chen* Plaza College
Samantha Cipriano* Plaza College
Mia Grant* Plaza College
Amanda Vila* Plaza College
Adrianna Filc* Plaza College
Michelle Paluszek* Plaza College
Mayer Weisel* Plaza College
Paula Rojas * Plaza College
Luisa Vertucci* Plaza College
Alexis Zinckgraf* Plaza College
Jennifer Palladino* Plaza College
Eileen Quiles* Plaza College
Joalsi Siri*  Plaza College
Elisa Rodriguez* Plaza College
Antonette Bassi* Plaza College
Daniella Brodsky* Plaza College
Erica Howard* Plaza College
Emma DeCorsey* Plaza College
Lauren Gode* Plaza College
Julissa Rodriguez* Plaza College
Darla Lawson Plaza College
Kathryn Russo Plaza College
Cynthia Quezada Plaza College
Olivia Murray Plaza College
David Gordon Plaza College
Marsha Bruk Plaza College
Alex Diaz-Polanco Plaza College
Sara Richmond     Plaza College
Katherine O’Hara     Plaza College
Radhika Rampersaud Plaza College
Shantelle McIntyre Plaza College
Colleen Hartie Plaza College
Paula Mullen Plaza College
Margeaux LaForte Plaza College
Carmen Vesa Plaza College
Cecilia Miranda Plaza College
Isabella Weiss Plaza College
Melissa Colon Plaza College
Maia Morgon Plaza College
Malia McDaniel Plaza College
Dishawn Williams Plaza College
Ramona Perez Plaza College
Paradise Rosario Plaza College
Elisabeth Dempsey Plaza College
Colleen Hansen South Suburban College
Cascidy Bandyk South Suburban College
Jennifer Blum South Suburban College
Amanda Castaldo South Suburban College
Ema Frye South Suburban College
Marissa Loring South Suburban College
Lilly Martlink South Suburban College

Court reporting programs nationwide celebrate For the love of steno

NCRA’s 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated the love of steno nationwide with official proclamations and an array of activities ranging from career days to Veterans History Project events to social hours and more. This year’s theme, For the love of steno, marked the week that was observed Feb. 8-15 and embraced especially by students and faculty in court reporting programs across the country. Below is a wrap up of the week:

At Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, where the court reporting program is experiencing a record enrollment this semester, students were treated to a surprise guest speaker hosted via WEBEX so those locally and around the country could listen in. Students also took shifts in the main galleria of the college to staff a prize wheel and steno machine station. Passersby who tried out the steno machine on display were then given the chance to spin a prize wheel.

Members of Tri-C’s Court Reporting Club hosted two meet-and-greet sessions with working reporters for all the students at the college. The professionals shared their experiences and best advice and then answered student questions. Students shared that it was highly motivating and provided them with actionable steps they could follow for success. Both sessions were also webcast to students nationwide.

Karen Santucci, CRI, New York State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA) vice president and the director of the court reporting program at Plaza College in Queens, said the school kicked off the week with a visit by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who presented students with a proclamation recognizing its dedication to educating men and women in the field of court reporting. During the week, the school also hosted five guest speakers representing official court reporters, firm owners, and grand jury reporters to share stories of their experiences. More than 100 students at the college also competed in a nationwide fast-fingers contest to celebrate the week.

Downy Adult School, Downy, Calif., celebrated the week by hosting a variety of different activities, including a pajama day where students and faculty enjoyed cupcakes embellished with the For the love of steno message and a hat day. There was also an “I scream for steno” day where participants made T-shirts celebrating court reporting and captioning, enjoyed ice cream cones, and watched the court reporting documentary For the Record. The school held a bake sale, a wear-red-and-pink day, and raffles for students to win prizes.

SimplySteno, an online court reporting program based in Tigard, Ore., celebrated by allowing free online screenings of the court reporting documentary For the Record.

In Chicago, Ill., students at MacCormac College hosted the Court Reporting & Captioning Week interactive question-and-answer session and reception that featured guest speaker NCRA member Isaiah Roberts, RPR. Roberts spoke to students and answered their questions about life on the “other side” of the RPR. Several other court reporters from the professional community were also on hand to answer questions.

The College of Court Reporting (CCR), Valparaiso, Ind., hosted NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a firm owner and court reporter from Franklin, Tenn., as a guest speaker during the week. Curry addressed students, alumni, and the general public about the importance of the court reporting profession, the role schools play in educating students, and the value of being an NCRA member. 

To celebrate the week, court reporting students from the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania participated in the 57th annual Academy Mock Trial Competition.

NCRA member Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR, volunteered to write the final round of the competition. She live-streamed to the iPads (courtesy of the court reporting program at CCAC) of the law students and trial judges 253 pages of impeccable realtime translation.

According to Natalie Kijurna, director of alumni and employer relations for CCR, the college also highlighted alumni in their chosen field by running a social media campaign based on the For the Love of Steno theme. Alumni also did a takeover of the school’s Snapchat account to spread the word about court reporting and captioning. Other activities included a Facebook Live event with a working court reporter, during which the school challenged their students and students at participating schools who use EV360 software to practice as much as possible. The top three students who practiced the most were awarded prizes.

Students at Atlantic Technical Institute in Coconut Creek, Fla., celebrated the week by holding a mock trial for students in a legal administration class to demonstrate the role of the court reporter and realtime writing. The mock trial was The Government vs. Tarzan. Tarzan was accused of kidnapping Jane. The students that attended the mock trial were the jurors, and they came back with a not guilty verdict. The school also hosted two of its recent graduates, who visited with current students and shared their experiences as new reporters and answered questions.

Even though the 2020 event is over, it is always a good time celebrate and promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Be sure to visit the NCRA Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page to download a variety of materials, including many that can be customized and designed to help promote the profession.

Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars and start planning now to celebrate NCRA’s 2021 Court Reporting & Captioning Week Feb. 6-13.

Career switch from the Navy to court reporting

Tiffany Sipler

Tiffany Sipler is a court reporting student at Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y.

UTS | Can you talk a little about your background?  You were in the U.S. Navy before you started court reporting school, right?

TS | That’s correct.  In a nutshell, I joined the United States Navy on my 21st birthday, back in August 2005. After serving six years active duty as a master-at-arms, both stateside and overseas, I returned home to the suburbs of Philadelphia and finished my bachelor of science in administration of justice from Pennsylvania State University. Life then presented the opportunity of working as an emergency communications dispatcher (otherwise known as a 911 operator) with the Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications. After years of shift work in the Navy and the 911 center, working 12-hour shifts (plus overtime), both weekends and holidays, I realized something was missing: quality of life. It was at this juncture in my life when I decided to do more for me. I wanted to learn and master the skill and occupation of court reporting.

UTS | How did you first get the idea of being a court reporter?

TS | My coworker at the 911 center introduced me to her roommate, who was enrolled in court reporting school. After multiple discussions about court reporting, I became even more intrigued, and stenography constantly remained in the back of my mind. I had a very good job with Bucks County, which made my decision to leave at 35 years old to start something new very difficult. I researched, thought about, and considered what I possibly could regarding this amazing career for about three years before making my final decision to take the plunge and embark on a new journey.

UTS | What kinds of challenges have you faced during your court reporting program?

TS | There’s definitely been a few for sure. Since starting school, my challenges have included a long commute, self-doubt, high stress, and juggling court reporting classes along with other academics.  Before committing to this program, I knew online schooling was not an option; I needed the communicative and engaging learning style. The closest brick-and-mortar school from Philadelphia is in Queens, New York; however, that is approximately 100 miles away and a two-hour drive in each direction on a good day. It was not the best arrangement, but I needed to be resilient and overcome these obstacles. I was determined! The first nine weeks of school, I stayed at an Airbnb – yep, didn’t work out. This was not ideal, so I finally decided to start commuting from home each day. I traveled by car, train, and subway, four days a week, which meant at least a six-hour round trip commute each day, passing through three different states. It was exhausting, stressful, emotionally draining, and extremely difficult. I needed to think flexibility…. maybe I should talk to my advisor and professors? I did, and ultimately the president of Plaza College was able to allow me to work from home utilizing Google Meet.  Plaza College has not only authorized me to use Google Meet, but even implemented online classes for remote students like myself. It’s been a saving grace to my overall health and stress levels.   

UTS | If you were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, what would you say to them about a career in court reporting and captioning?

TS | This is right up my alley. For years I have been trying to convince my nephews to follow in my military footsteps. Now, I’m trying to entice my 10-year-old niece to go to court reporting school. If I were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, I would talk to them about this lucrative career and all the different options it has to offer. Whether you want to work a 9-5 job in the courts, make your own schedule while freelancing, or perhaps work with the hearing impaired, the options and opportunities are endless. On the other hand, even though job opportunities and money may be convincing, school is the hardest hurdle you’ll have to overcome. This is such an amazing and specific skill to learn, but once you achieve that 225 words per minute, this career can take you all over the world.

UTS | Where do you see the profession of court reporting and captioning 10 years from now? Do you think technology will help or hurt the profession?

TS | I’m super excited to see where this profession, as well as myself, goes in the next 10 years. I think technology in the form of CAT software, artificial intelligence, and stenograph writers will help our profession; however, only if we are willing to go the extra mile to learn the “what” and “why” of this technology. We will have to learn “with” and embrace technology as a support, not an enemy. The human touch and emotions will always have a role in this profession. In addition, I firmly believe that there will be a resurgence in the court reporting field. Based on the number of students enrolling in my school alone, I believe a new wave of court reporters will grace our presence and there will still be more than enough jobs for everyone. 

UTS | Where do you see yourself in five years?

TS | As a happy graduate of Plaza College! In five years, I hope to reflect on my time as a student at Plaza College with pride and no regret, knowing that I gave it my all. I want to celebrate the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and focus it took to learn a new instrument and language and how that skill enabled me to write 225 words per minute. Upon graduation, I’m hoping to grow in the freelance community, but ultimately learn and work my way into closed captioning and/or communication access realtime translation. In five years, I’m hoping to be living the life I envisioned this career would grant me: the ability to travel, live comfortably, and to be successful in more ways than one. Basically, the dream life!

It’s that magical time of year again for the annual NCRA Student Skills Contest

In celebration of Court Reporting & Captioning Week being held Feb. 8 – 15, 2020, the NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is sponsoring a Walt Disney themed skills contest that will be offered to all students at varying dictation speeds.  The tests (Literary and Q&A) consist of five minutes of dictation at a speed level commensurate with the current level of speed building each individual student is striving to achieve or has just successfully achieved.  In order to be eligible to win, students must pass one of the tests with 96 percent accuracy.  The faculty at each school will be responsible for dictating and grading the material which will be provided by the Student/Teacher Committee. *

How to win:  All students who successfully pass a test are eligible for prizes.  Winners will be drawn at random for first, second, and third place prizes among all the names of winners that are forwarded to Ellen Goff at NCRA Headquarters by March 2, 2020.

  • Walt Disney Grand Prize (1st):  NCRA’s RPR Study Guide ($125 value)
  • Mickey Mouse Prize (2nd):  Choice of a one-year NCRA Student Membership ($55 value) or one leg of the RPR Skills Test (72.50 value)
  • Minnie Mouse Prize (3rd):  $25 Starbucks Gift Card

All students who participate in the contest, even if they don’t pass a skills test, will have their names and schools published in the NCRA Student Newsletter and thejcr.com.  NCRA wants to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions.

Let’s have some fun and make sure your school’s name is showcased as well as your own!  We’ve had an impressive number of students participating the past couple years.  Let’s see if we can make that number even larger in 2020!  Grab those Disney good luck charms and your magical Tinker Bell pixie dust and prepare to join the fun and camaraderie with your fellow students across the land as you endeavor to give this competition a whirl!  Whose school will have the most participants?  Will it be yours?  We don’t care if you’re at 60 WPM or 225 WPM.  This contest is for you!

As Walt Disney himself said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Let’s pursue this dream of competing in this contest and enjoying the fine cast of Disney characters who will entertain you with these skills dictations.  What do you have to lose? 

The annual NCRA Conference & Expo this year is in Orlando, Fla, Aug. 6-9, at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.   Mark your calendars.  We’ve got a great line-up planned!

For more information, feel free to contact Debbie Kriegshauser at deborah0841@att.net or Ellen Goff at egoff@ncra.org.

*Full details and rules for the contest will be sent to your school’s faculty, so please make sure they know you would like to participate in case they fail to receive the material through the appropriate channels. We will make sure they receive it.

For the love of steno, celebrate 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

For the love of steno is this year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week theme and one that can be touted year-round by court reporting schools and their students. The 2020 weeklong celebration designed to help showcase the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning runs Feb. 8-15. To help schools and students celebrate, NCRA has made available a vast number of resources, ranging from press release templates to media messages specific to schools, to help spread the word about this wonderful profession. These and other resources, including many that are customizable, are available at NCRA.org/home/events.

Other resources available to help mark the week include logos and graphics for use on social media platforms and emails, as well as customizable business cards and flyers.

Downy Adult School, Downy, Calif., has already made plans to celebrate 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week by hosting a variety of different activities, including a pajama day where students and faculty will enjoy cupcakes embellished with the “For the love of steno” message and a hat day. There will also be an “I scream for steno” day where participants will make T-shirts celebrating court reporting and captioning, enjoy ice cream cones, and watch the court reporting documentary, For the Record. The school also has planned a bake sale, a wear-red-and-pink day, and raffles for students to win prizes.

SimplySteno, an online court reporting program based in Tigard, Ore., will be celebrating Court Reporting & Captioning Week by allowing free online screenings of the court reporting documentary For the Record. According to the program’s founder, Marc Greenberg, CRI, who created the documentary, anyone can view the film for free by going to https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fortherecord and selecting the “rent” option, clicking on the “Apply promo code” link, and using SIMPLYSTENO as the code. The free screenings will be available from Feb. 8-15.

In Chicago, Ill., students at MacCormac College will be hosting a Court Reporting & Captioning Week interactive question-and-answer session and reception on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.  The session will feature guest speaker NCRA member Isaiah Roberts, RPR. According to Selena Scott, J.D., the college’s program director, Roberts is “quite popular with younger reporters and even did live captioning at Coachella this past summer.  He will speak to the students and answer their questions about life on the ‘other side’ of the RPR. There will also be several other court reporters from the professional community on hand to answer questions as well.”

The College of Court Reporting (CCR), Valparaiso, Ind., will host NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a firm owner and court reporter from Franklin, Tenn., as a guest speaker during Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Curry will speak to students, alumni, and the general public about the importance of the court reporting profession, the role schools play in educating students, and the value of being an NCRA member. 

According to Natalie Kijurna, director of alumni and employer relations for CCR, the college also plans to highlight its amazing alumni in their chosen field by running a social media campaign based on the “For the Love of Steno” theme, as well as a takeover of its Snapchat account by alumni so they can spread the word about court reporting and captioning. Other plans to celebrate include having a court reporting professional host a Facebook Live sometime during the week to spread the word about how important it is to practice in order to reach your goals, whether it’s achieving exit speeds or your next certification.  During the live Facebook event, CCR is also going to challenge their students and students at participating schools who use EV360 software to practice as much as possible. The top three students who practice the most will win prizes.

Remember to share how you celebrate the week by sending information about and photos of your event to NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org. Everyone is also encouraged to share his or her activities on social media using the hashtags #CRCW20 and #DiscoverSteno.

And don’t forget, be sure to check out NCRA’s resources for 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week for the most up-to-date materials designed to help you celebrate the week and beyond.

Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) Skills Test registration open until Feb. 20

Registration is open for aspiring court reporters to test in March 2020 for a new NCRA certification, the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR). This new designation will recognize those stenographic professionals who are looking to validate their beginning level of competency.

“Those new professionals who make the commitment to earn the RSR are also showing their commitment to continuing their skills and proficiency through professional practice while earning an income,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn.

Earning the RSR will demonstrate an ability to hold a verified level of skill to current and potential clients, current and potential employers, and fellow reporters.

Created as a stepping-stone credential to ultimately achieving the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation, the RSR certification will offer the prestige of an NCRA certification for those new or returning to the court reporting profession who have yet to be able to get their writing speeds up enough to earn the RPR.

Current or aspiring stenographic reporters are eligible to earn the RSR and do not need to be members of NCRA to take the certification’s tests.

Candidates seeking the RSR need to pass three, five-minute Skills Tests:

RSR Literary at 160 words per minute

RSR Jury Charge at 180 words per minute

RSR Testimony/Q&A at 200 words per minute

To pass, an accuracy level of 95 percent is required for each leg. Passed RPR skills tests cannot be used toward earning the RSR.

There is a critical need for qualified, competent stenographers, and the RSR certification will help employers differentiate among candidates applying for these opportunities.

“When you earn the RSR, you have an opportunity to continue learning but begin to enjoy the personal satisfaction of seeing your skills used in professional practice and earn income while you continue your learning,” said NCRA Vice President Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC of Woodland, Utah. “It’s a win/win!”

Visit the NCRA website for more information.

Which job is right for me?

Teresa Russ, CRI

By Teresa Russ, CRI

The wonderful world of court reporting. Way back when, these options to work were not available: freelance as a CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captioner, deposition reporter, or broadcast captioner. When I started court reporting school in the early 1980s, I only knew about working in court or taking depositions. The latter we most often call “depos,” which most of us students saw as a glamorous career. “Yes! That’s the one I want,” I thought as a 20-something-year-old. However, court is very lucrative as well as depos. So, what will it be?

Court:  Play a major role in the court proceedings; have a set salary along with getting paid for your transcripts; learn more about our judicial system

Depos:  Make your own schedule; work as much as you like; travel to different cities or countries; learn more about our judicial system

CART captioning:  Work in the classroom setting and learn as a college student and not have to take the tests; give back and help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community; make your own schedule

Broadcast captioning: Have the same benefits as CART and your work appears on TV; if you enjoy sports, you get to watch the games and get paid and you get to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community

Because I love students and teachers, CART became my first love. I captioned biology, automotive, photography, algebra, and many more classes. Many of my colleagues caption for concerts, even funerals and churches. Many CART captioners migrate to broadcast captioning and many do both. What’s even more exciting is that your skill affords you to do all four of the above options.

I started reminiscing about the judicial field while I was working as a CART captioner. I was chatting with a good friend, Katy Jackson, and she said, “Oh, you want to try depos?” She made some phone calls and just like that I started getting job offers from different deposition agencies. Now, how awesome is that?

While you are a student with several choices to choose from, talk to reporters who have worked in different fields of court reporting. Many reporters will be more than happy to discuss their experiences. If you have been in school for a long time or maybe you are graduating soon, take advantage of the opportunities and sit with a professional and weigh your options. Which one fits your personality the most?

CART captioning seemed to fit my personality the most, but now that I have been doing depositions, I see that being part of the judicial system has its rewards as well, as I love meeting the attorneys and just feeling a part of something that will make a difference in someone’s life in helping bring the truth out from using my awesome skill.

Teresa Russ, CRI, lives in Bellflower, Calif., and works as a CART provider at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. She also does freelance depositions with Atkinson-Baker and several other agencies.