Did you know you can print your NCRA membership card?

NCRA is no longer sending membership card via snail mail. Instead, members can now access and print their own membership cards by logging onto the NCRA portal. For best results, NCRA recommends accessing the portal through the Chrome web platform. To access and print your NCRA membership card, follow the instructions below:

Just log in to your NCRA profile and, under the “My NCRA” dropdown, click on “My Membership Card.” It will show you your membership card.

Once your membership card is displayed, click on the “print” icon to make as many copies as you would like. This is available to you at any time.

For information, contact membership@ncra.org.

Eh to Zed

By Janice Plomp and Joanne McKenzie

After attending an information session introducing the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program at the Las Vegas NCRA Convention & Expo in 2017, we knew it was the perfect tool to ensure we were getting the “right” students into our program. The Captioning and Court Reporting program at the Northern Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary and has a reputation across North America for being an excellent program with an above-average graduation rate. However, as a publicly funded school, we are always looking for ways to increase our key performance indicators.

In September 2017, we welcomed 26 eager participants to our first NCRA A to Z program. We emphasized to all that it was a “try it before you buy it” opportunity. Our expectations were low as we headed into this unknown territory, but 20 of them completed the program, and many asked if they could do it again, and they did!

NCRA A to Z does everything we hoped it would do: Attract potential applicants, teach the basics of machine shorthand, help participants make informed decisions about their future, and increase awareness about the profession. But that’s not the whole story. Our Canadian court reporting community rallied behind us. Local reporters and captioners volunteered their time to lead a session and share their experience and their enthusiasm for this great profession. As we expanded our program to include synchronous online participants in 2018, others were quick to dust o‑ their old machines and deliver them to out-of-town and out-of-province participants and o‑ er their time as mentors. Our provincial association, the Alberta Shorthand Reporters Association, sponsors snacks each week for the on-site participants.

NCRA President Max Curry, left, with NAIT students. Those who completed the NCRA A to Z are shown raising their hands.

More importantly, our NCRA A to Z participants benefited as well. A sense of community developed between the participants over the six weeks, and those who were accepted into the program had a head start with steno as well as new friendships.

Our fifth NCRA A to Z session began October 28. We have 20 participants registered and a waiting list for our February session. We are increasing the number of sessions for 2020 by adding a third offering to ensure all applicants to our program have an opportunity to attend. Our marketing is primarily through NAIT’s annual Open House event, sharing the flyer through social media, and the NCRA A to Z registration.

It is too early to see any real changes in our graduation rate, but one thing we know for sure: We have a new and exciting way to encourage people to join our profession. Thank you, NCRA, for spearheading this initiative and increasing awareness about court reporting and captioning.

Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and instructor based in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, and Joanne McKenzie, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner, freelancer, and instructor from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Plomp can be reached at jplomp@shaw.ca. McKenzie can be reached at joannem@nait.ca.

OCRA partners with state’s Veterans of Foreign Affairs for VHP event

Earlier this month, the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA) partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Ohio to host a Veterans History Project event that captured the stories of nine American war veterans. The event was held in conjunction with the Ohio VFW’s mid-winter conference in Columbus, Ohio, and was so successful that it generated a story by a National Public Radio reporter which aired on a local radio station.

“This special VHP event kicked off a yearlong effort launched by OCRA to capture the stories of 100 American war veterans in 2020 to help celebrate the association’s 100th anniversary,” said Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, a captioner from Rittman, Ohio, and president of OCRA.

Linkowski said the partnership between OCRA and the Ohio VFW is a result of a relationship between NCRA Immediate Past President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, CLR, a freelance court reporter from Springfield, Ohio, and the veterans’ organization.

“In 1975 the VFW meeting was Sue’s very first court reporting assignment. OCRA members knew we wanted to bring the VHP to Ohio in a purposeful way, and this partnership makes sense. We’re starting at the top with the commanders and have asked them to take the VHP back to each individual post, where local court reporters will participate in collecting stories,” she said. Linkowski also added that members of OCRA who manned a booth at the Ohio VFW event distributed additional information about the VHP program with various post commanders who attended the conference. To date, three VFW posts have begun looking at dates to hold VHP days.

“OCRA members and volunteers were able to collect the stories of nine veterans who represented service in the Army, Navy, and Air Force during WWII, the Vietnam War, Iraq, and a fighter jet pilot with stories from 9/11 that you never would have imagined, as well as many other conflicts,” Linkowski said. “The common theme was relationships that are formed when the person beside you has your life in their hands. The Ohio veterans laughed and cried as their service time stories were told, and each of our volunteers expressed how they could listen to the stories over and over again.”

The court reporters and captioners who volunteered to help capture the stories were also assisted by a 13-year-old young man and Jeff Sindiong, an Ohio resident.

“I immediately realized that this is a very important project that preserves the stories of those whose stories should not be forgotten,” Sindong said. “Most importantly, those of the servicemen and women of WWII, ‘The Greatest Generation’, who won’t be around much longer to hand down the realities of what a war of that magnitude is like. We had the honor and privilege of hearing from a veteran who served as a turret gunner of a B-24 bomber, a veteran who, by some miracle, flew 34 missions and lived to tell about it,” he added.  

The VHP program was launched by the Library of Congress to collect the stories of American war veterans by recording and transcribing interviews with them. In 2003, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), the philanthropic arm of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), partnered with the LOC to support the VHP program. To date, more than 3,000 veterans’ histories have been transcribed by members of NCRA and submitted to the Library for archival. The VHP is one of the most popular oral histories efforts supported by NCRA members. Participation in VHP events also serve to showcase the court reporting and captioning professions by allowing veterans, their family members, and other members of the public to see how court reporters and captioners use steno machines to capture and translate the spoken word into text.

NCRA 2020 Business Summit regular rates end Jan. 31

If you haven’t registered yet, hurry and do it now! Don’t miss the chance to join other attendees at the NCRA 2020 Business Summit when they kick off the event with a friendly round of Lost Pines Olympics. The 2020 event is taking place Feb. 9-11 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. Regular registration rates end Jan. 31.

The Lost Pines Olympics is a team-building challenge that pits two teams against one another in a friendly go at a relay-type race that features seven stations with various tasks. Stations include:

  • Dizzy bat
  • Soccer dribble
  • Corn hole toss
  • Archery target
  • Giant cup stacking
  • Inflatable horse relay
  • Teambuilding skis

Be a part of the fun and camaraderie this activity will generate and take advantage of the numerous networking opportunities that the Business Summit will offer. And don’t forget the amazing speakers scheduled this year who will share insights about the latest in using social media to build your business, the best financial planning tips, a first-hand look at the NCRA 2019 Firm Owners Benchmark Survey, and more.

This year’s Business Summit line-up of exciting and informative presenters will send attendees home armed with the latest and most innovative strategies for business success in 2020 and beyond, while networking opportunities will help firm owners expand their professional spheres of influence. Highlights include:

A two-part session that will be presented byChris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business. Since 2008, nearly 5,000 business owners have relied on her sales and marketing expertise to boost their sales by more than $538 million. Click here to hear from Williams herself about what she has to share.

Keynote speaker is the energetic Karim R. Ellis, founder of Empowered Education, a company devoted to developing both organizations and individuals. Ellis is a dynamic motivational speaker with 10 years of experience in the arena of speaking, training, and coaching, He takes great pride in cultivating leaders and champions, and his sole desire is to unlock an atmosphere of greatness in the lives of the people he connects with on a daily basis. Ellis will share with attendees his insights into successful leadership creation and development.

Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, an outdoor concert venue that presents more than 50 free concerts a year, has planned a fun and enlightening look at how social media can be changed from chore to tool in a firm’s business plan for success.

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and current advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC, who will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber-savvy world.

Chris Moyseos, a financial advisor and financial planning specialist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who will lead a session on financial planning and managing personal wealth.

In addition, attendees will enjoy many opportunities throughout the three-day event to expand their networks, engage with old friends, and build relationships with new ones.

Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay. The recreational amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center; two tennis courts; an 18-hole golf course; hiking, biking, and jogging paths; horseback riding; a video arcade; a water park; a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots; and more.

Be a part of the NCRA 2020 Business Summit.

  • Regular Registration ends Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last-Minute Registration: Feb. 1–9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit NCRA.org/BusinessSummit.

2020 National Court Reporting & Captioning Week continues to raise awareness about career opportunities

Local FOX affiliate TV channel 40 in New York posted a press release announcing 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week that was issued by NCRA on Jan. 21. The press release was distributed nationwide via business wire.

Read more.

Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters opens new office

In a press release issued Jan. 20  Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters announced the opening of a new office in New York City.

Read more.

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.

From accounting to court reporting in Alabama

Student Savannah Ray started out as an accounting student, but she changed paths to court reporting thanks to encouragement from her mother.

UTS | Can you talk a little about your background? Did you start the program straight out of high school, or did you have another career first?

SR | I’m an Alabama native, and I have lived in Gadsden for more than five years now.  I decided in my senior year of high school I would be going to Gadsden State to earn an accounting degree. I realized very quickly during my first semester that it wasn’t something that would make a fulfilling career for me because I didn’t really have as much interest in it as I thought.

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

SR | Well, after I decided accounting wasn’t the path I wanted to take, I mentioned to my mom how I felt lost and was unsure of what to do anymore. She had taken the court reporting program for a brief period before and told me it couldn’t hurt to look into it. I did some research and fell in love with the profession. It kind of lit a fire in me and reignited my excitement for college. I started the program in August 2018 and haven’t looked back since!

UTS | What skill sets do you think would be helpful for a court reporter to possess?

SR | Time management and good concentration have been crucial for me through school. Our instructors hold us to the same standard we’ll have in the working world, so you have to learn to manage your workload in a timely manner and to focus on writing and editing for hours at a time if that’s what is needed.

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

SR | The biggest challenge for me was accepting that sometimes you’ll fail. In the path to becoming a court reporter, you’re faced with the hard truth that you won’t always be able to pass every speed the first time you take it. Sometimes you’ll get stuck. There were times I’d really beat myself up over that, but that only held me back even more. Now I try to see not passing in a more positive light, it’s an experience I learned from that’ll help me improve in my future work.

UTS | Have you had a mentor help you out while in school? If yes, how has that helped? If no…how could a mentor help you?

SR | Yes, I recently got a mentor! She’s been lovely and very supportive. Any time I post about my progress she always sends me encouragement, and she’s even helped me to be able to go to my first conference this month which I’m really excited about.

 UTS | Where do you see yourself in five years?

SR | My dream job is to become an official so hopefully in five years I’ll have been able to achieve that.

UTS | What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?

SR | My instructor Michelle once told us to remember that this is our own race to run and it’s not about when you cross the finish line, it’s just about getting across it. That’s really motivated me in the moments when I’m feeling stuck because even if it takes time, I’ll get through those rough spots and make it to my finish line.

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?

SR | I’d tell them about how, with a lot of hard work, you’ll be able to have a skill that not a lot of other people can say they have, writing at 225 words per minute with 95 percent accuracy is an amazing thing to be able to do. There’s also a large amount of job opportunities in the field right now with a potential to earn a nice income.

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?

SR | I feel like advances in technology can be a big help to reporters if we put in the time to learn and master it. Students now can do things that years ago weren’t possible. If we can continue to adapt technology to be an aide to us and work to raise awareness about the profession to younger people, our profession can thrive for years to come.

Savannah Ray is a student at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala.

Angel profile: Mary Bader

Mary Bader, FAPR, RPR

The JCR Weekly regularly highlights one of the more than 100 Angels who support the National Court Reporters Foundation. This month, we profile Mary Bader, FAPR, RPR, an official court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. Bader will soon be retiring from her court position and from the NRCF Board of Trustees.

“The NCRF Board of Trustees would like to thank Mary Bader for serving as a Trustee,” said NCRF Board of Trustees Chair Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, a retired court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. “She has been an integral part of the Board, and we will miss her very much as she looks forward to retirement in the near future. She plans to enjoy spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. However, she also plans on continuing her dedication to our profession. Thank you, Mary!”

Currently serving as an official court reporter for the Eau Claire County Branch 2, Bader began her career in 1990. She has held membership in NCRA since 1988 and served as chair of the National Committee of State Associations from 2015-2017. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association, where she served on its board of directors from 2003 through 2013 and as its president from 2009 to 2011.

JCR | How long have you been an Angel?

MB | I really cannot tell you how many years I have been an Angel. I know it’s more than 10 because I have the pin and the beautiful clock to prove it. 

JCR | Clearly being an Angel is important to you. Why?

MB | Being an Angel is a fabulous way to give back to the profession that has been so good to me. Serving on NCRA committees and task forces is so important to moving our profession forward but being an Angel and being part of the Foundation is the best way I can think of to give back. 

JCR | What is your favorite NCRF program?

MB | The Foundation’s programs are wide and diverse. Our programs promote students and new professionals. Our legal education program provides useful information for law schools, state bar associations, law firms, and other legal professionals on how to make the best record. NCRF’s Veterans History Project is our way of contributing to preserving our nation’s history, and perhaps more importantly it is an avenue for veterans to tell their stories, so they are assured their sacrifices are not forgotten. 

Learn more about the NCRF Angel Donors program, or become an Angel.