Apply for NCRA scholarships, including the all-new NCRA A to Z scholarship

Each year, NCRA offers members several scholarships to support students as they work to become professional court reporters and captioners. In addition to offering the annual scholarships managed by the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), the National Court Reporters Foundation has initiated an all-new scholarship to help students who have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program with the next step in their training.

Applications must be submitted for these two scholarships by April 1, so don’t hesitate!

CASE scholarships. Five scholarships are available. Students attending an NCRA-approved court reporting program and writing between 140 and 180 wpm are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Teachers and mentors, let them know that you see their potential. The application period closes April 1.  

NCRA A to Z ™ scholarshipsUp to 10 students will receive a $500 scholarship. Qualified applicants must have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program as well as pass a skills test writing between 60 and 100 wpm, among other eligibility requirements. Nominations close April 1.

Scholarships are supported by funds from the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF).

Remember to nominate for awards and scholarships, including the all-new NCRA A to Z scholarships

Time is running out to recognize someone special! Every year, NCRA offers members several scholarships and awards to bring attention to the people who are contributing to the profession in important ways. In addition to the annual scholarships managed by the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), the National Court Reporters Foundation has initiated an all-new scholarship to help students who have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program with the next step in their training. Scholarships are supported by funds from the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF).

Nominations are now open, so consider nominating individuals for these special opportunities:

CASE scholarships. Five scholarships are available. Students attending an NCRA-approved court reporting program and writing between 140 and 180 wpm are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Teachers and mentors, let them know that you see their potential. The nomination period closes April 1.  

NCRA A to Z ™ scholarshipsUp to 10 students will receive a $500 scholarship. Qualified applicants must have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program as well as pass a skills test writing between 60 and 100 wpm, among other eligibility requirements. Nominations close April 1.

 CASE Educator of the YearThis special award is for a court reporting instructor. Was there someone special who inspired you, who got you through the ups, downs, and plateaus of your court reporting classes? If your teacher was an incredible influence in you getting started, now is the time to say thank you by nominating that special someone for the CASE Educator of the Year Award. Nominations close April 1.

Fellow of the Academy of Professional ReportersIf you know a dedicated court reporter or captioner who has contributed to the profession in a big way over the years, nominate that person as a Fellow. Candidates must be active practitioners in the field and have at least 10 years of experience. Criteria for nomination include the publication of important papers, legislative or creative contributions to the field, and service on committees or boards. Nominations close April 1.

NCRF Strategic Plan update

Last month, Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) Board of Trustees, announced that NCRF has adopted a new three-year strategic plan. The robust plan includes efforts to support the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, the advancement of court reporting students and new professionals through scholarships and grants, and the promotion of the forward growth of NCRA members in their profession.

The 2019-2021 NCRF Strategic Plan focuses on three areas of expansion:

I. Improve communication and better articulate value to constituents.

II. Build and operate a sustainable organizational and financial model.

III. Position the profession and Foundation for the future by focusing on being more inclusive and increasing support of educational initiatives.

“Well into its first two months of adoption, the Strategic Plan already has some boxes checked off, particularly in the first pillar,” said Keenan, providing an update on activities happening at the Foundation. “The Trustees and staff, following the roadmap laid out within the Strategic Plan, have already begun to revitalize several of the programs that NCRF offers and, more importantly, engaged an aggressive communication plan to educate NCRA members about the Foundation’s value as well as inform the general public,” she added.

Donors and members of the NCRF community will soon notice more opportunities to support the work of the Foundation, as the Board of Trustees begins work on initiatives to build a more sustainable financial model, adding building blocks to Pillar II of the Strategic Plan.

Debra Cheyne, MA, CSR (OR/WA), Chair of the Foundation’s Angel Gatherers Committee, is a strong proponent of the NCRA A to Z™ Program component of the plan, written into the plan’s third pillar. “As a long-term member of the NCRF Board of Trustees, I am excited that our three-year strategic plan promotes NCRA’s A to Z program to recruit and begin training the next generation of court reporters and captioners,” she said.

The full 2019-2021 NCRF Strategic Plan can be found here.

Angel Gatherers Committee Profile: Melanie L. Humphrey-Sonntag

Melanie L. Humphrey-Sonntag

NCRF is pleased to introduce the Angels community to Angel Gatherers Committee member Melanie L. Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR,  RDR, CRR, CRC. Melanie is a contracted freelance realtime reporter with Planet Depos in Chicago, Ill. We sat down with Melanie to learn a little more about her and her connection and commitment to the Foundation.

NCRF: So how long have you been engaged in and with the Foundation?

Sonntag: I’ve known of the Foundation nearly my entire career and always tried to carve out a small donation. I’ve worked on several phone-a-thons and was privileged to be part of the 1993 opening of the Robert H. Clark Library at NCRA’s headquarters. When I was on the NCRA Board of Directors, I worked closely with the Foundation and served as a trustee while I was NCRA vice president.

NCRF: Are there other Foundation programs you’ve volunteered for?

Sonntag: I’ve volunteered for various events and fundraisers for NCRF, worked briefly on the Major Gifts campaign in 2003 or 2004, and have been gathering Angels since the program’s inception.

NCRF: Have you held other roles at NCRA?

Sonntag: Yes, multiple NCRA roles. I’ve been a member since 1979, committee service since early 1990s, chief examiner for more than 10 years, I’ve attended multiple state leadership events, I was an NCRA director in 2005, vice president, president elect, president 2010-2011, and past president. I also became a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters in 2001.

NCRF: Why are you an Angel donor?

Sonntag: The Angels program is an exceptional way to be able to give back to my beloved profession and help populate the future reporting workforce. To quote Forrest Brown, “Court reporting has been very, very good to me. It provided a great living for my family. The least I can do is give a little back.”  With the ability to pay an Angels pledge monthly, to have a feel-good tax deduction, to enjoy the recognition and warm fuzzies that Angels receive, and to know I’m helping preserve the evolution of our timeless profession is amazingly gratifying. I was blessed to discover and enjoy this career for my entire adult life–the least I can do is give a little back. 

NCRF: Why is serving on the Angel Gatherers committee important to you?

Sonntag: By serving on the committee, I can help others find their philanthropic way to the Foundation and learn about its good works, including student scholarships and the Corinne Clark Professionalism Institute to help new reporters bridge the career gap. The Thoughtful Tributes program pays homage to the giants who have gone before us, and the Legal Education program continues to highlight and improve our efficacy with our clients. The Foundation really is the feel-good arm of NCRA, and I’m proud to support it with my perpetual Angels donation as well as being part of NCRF’s Legacy Society, making sure the Foundation’s good work will continue long after I’m gone. 

Everything you need to show lawyers how to make a better record

If you’ve had clients who won’t slow down, speak up, or educate the witness on how to make a good record and you wished you had something handy to share with them, look no further than the Legal Education Program seminar, “Making the Record,” provided by the National Court Reporters Foundation.

NCRF’s Legal Education Program has received high praise from court reporters, and it offers several resources for you to choose from.

The program booklet can be distributed as needed, while the presentation tools have been created so you can educate law students, young attorneys, and judges about the importance of making a good record in a group setting.

  • Making the Record – This booklet was designed to help members of the bench and bar understand the factors that assist in making a clear record.
  • Presentation tools – When you offer to present the Legal Education Seminar to groups, you have at your disposal an outline, PowerPoint slide set, and handouts. Seminar tools are provided to court reporters for free and are fully customizable for specific audiences and your personal message.

Need more motivation? You can earn Professional Development Credits (PDCs) toward your overall CEU requirements by giving a Legal Ed presentation! Learn more.

Access the full Legal Education Program now.

Learn more about other programs provided by the National Court Reporters Foundation at NCRA.org/Foundation.

Memorable photo of V-J Day creates intriguing interviews for Veterans History Project volunteer

This story was published in 2016. We are running it again after the recent death of George Mendonsa.

Nearly synonymous with the end of World War II is a photo usually called V-J Day in Times Square and sometimes The Kiss, the photo of a kissing sailor and nurse. Some even dub it the most famous kiss in American history. This 1945 shot was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt as Americans learned that the war was over.

For approximately 70 years though, the true identities of the sailor and so-called nurse remained a mystery, despite multitudes of men and women coming forward over the years claiming they were the subjects. Their identities were finally revealed in the release of the 2012 book, The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo that Ended World War II. The sailor is George Mendonsa, and the nurse, who was really a dental assistant, is Greta Friedman.

Years earlier, in 2005, both Friedman and Mendonsa shared their stories for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and this year, NCRF facilitated the transcription of these interviews.

“As a student, I had seen the iconic photo, as well as the media covering the reenactments that had taken place in Times Square at the 60th and 70th Anniversaries of V-J Day,” said Nancy Rowland, the retired reporter from Rimrock, Ariz., who transcribed these oral histories. “It is no surprise that this particular image became so famous, as it is symbolic of the end of a horrendous war where millions of lives were lost.  Because this was not a ‘staged’ photo but a candid moment, it captured the genuine raw emotions of joy and euphoria felt by all Americans that day.”

Mendonsa had been stationed in the Pacific during World War II and he saw firsthand the importance of nurses when his ship, the USS The Sullivans, rescued and transported hundreds of wounded sailors from the USS Bunker Hill, which was hit by a kamikaze airplane, to the hospital ship, the USS Bountiful.

“It was interesting to learn the reason behind why the sailor kissed the nurse, especially as his future wife was present with him!” said Rowland. “He believes that if this woman in Times Square did not have a nurse’s uniform on, he would never have grabbed and kissed her. It was a purely spontaneous act.”

There was some controversy surrounding this photo because the kiss did not seem consensual, as indicated by the woman’s body language and clenched fist. However, Friedman set the record straight in her interview.

“It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.  It was just an event of ‘thank God the war is over’ kind of thing because it was right in front of the sign,” Friedman told her interviewer, Patricia Redmond.

Rowland has transcribed more than 45 oral histories since 2012, but transcribing these two histories was a little different.

“Because of my familiarity with the photo, I was intrigued to learn the story behind the photo and wondered how the notoriety impacted their lives, these oral history interviews being conducted 60 years after the event,” said Rowland. “In that sense, initially these interviews were of a greater interest for me, and I was excited to have the opportunity to transcribe them.”

“But when the interview turned from George Mendonsa, The Kissing Sailor, to George Mendonsa, the World War II veteran relating his military career, the story brought back to the forefront the realization that all our veterans have a story of their unique contributions serving our nation, and the Veterans History Project gives them voice, even after they are no longer with us.”

To learn more about the Veterans History Project and how you can get involved transcribing histories, visit NCRA.org/vets.

NCRF announces new strategic plan

Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) Board of Trustees, has announced that the philanthropic arm of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), has adopted a new three-year strategic plan. The robust plan includes efforts to support the NCRA A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, the advancement of court reporting students and new professionals through scholarships and grants, and the promotion of the forward growth of NCRA members in their profession.

The 2019-2021 NCRF Strategic Plan was developed to support NCRA’s three-year strategic plan, launched this past August, and focuses on three areas of expansion:

I. Improve communication and better articulate value to constituents.

II. Build and operate a sustainable organizational and financial model.

III. Position the profession and Foundation for the future by focusing on being more inclusive and increasing support of educational initiatives.

“NCRF’s Strategic Plan is exciting!” said Keenan, who is also an NCRA past president. “The Trustees and staff invested significant time to create this roadmap for the future of NCRF.  The strategic plan contains realistic goals and the metrics to attain those goals which will carry NCRF forward as we embrace the challenges our profession faces.  It also encompasses the purpose of NCRF to serve as the philanthropic arm of NCRA.  I know I speak for all members of NCRA when I express gratitude for the selflessness of those who give so much to the betterment of both organizations,” added Keenan, a retired official court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. Communications materials and campaigns, research, and governance policy updates can be found within the details of the plan, in addition to strategies to take funding to new levels.

“As a long-term member of the NCRF Board of Trustees, I am excited that our three-year strategic plan promotes NCRA’s A to Z program to recruit and begin training the next generation of court reporters and captioners,” said Debra Cheyne, a captioner from Sherwood, Ore., who is also Chair of the Foundation’s Angel Gatherers Committee. “We are committed to expanding our long history of awarding scholarships and grants to court reporting students and first-year professionals.”

NCRF Trustee Cathy Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS, a freelance court reporter from Ocala, Fla., added “I am so excited about the direction that NCRF, our Foundation, is headed with this strategic plan. With the concerted effort of everyone helping to put these ideas into place, including staff members Mary Petto, NCRF Deputy Director, April Weiner, Assistant Director for Development, and Foundation Assistant Sharon Davoren, the future of the profession looks bright.”

The full 2019-2021 NCRF Strategic Plan can be found here.








NCRF announces 2018 recipients of the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and Student Intern Scholarship

Megan Baeten

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) has announced that Megan Baeten, a student from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., was named recipient of the 2018 Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship. The Foundation also announced that Mackenzie Allen and Tanner Kockler, both students from the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa, are the recipients of the 2018 Student Intern Scholarships. The recipients are selected by random drawing using a true random statistical tool.

Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship

“I have known of the court reporting profession since my senior year in high school and have always wanted to pursue this career. At that time, this program was not offered close to home, so I decided to pursue the administrative assistant career path instead. After working in that field for a number of years, I realized that there was little room for advancement and that it was not challenging enough for me,” said Baeten. “This [scholarship] has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester. It will help me with the cost of schooling for this last semester without the added stress of how I will pay for it. It will also help me with some of the start-up expenses upon graduating, as well as the certification fees.”

The Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship is a $2,000 award, given annually to a high-achieving court reporting student. This scholarship honors the late Frank Sarli, a court reporter who was committed to supporting students through years of service on NCRA’s committees and boards that guide the education of court reporting students. Recipients are nominated by their schools and must meet specific criteria, including:

  • having a GPA of at least 3.5
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 wpm
  • possessing all the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including professional attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

“Megan is truly deserving of this scholarship. This will be life-changing for her. Megan juggles being a single mom, working full-time, and going to school for court reporting. Yet she always shows up for class ready to go and does quality work,” said Jackie Rupnow, who nominated Baeten. “She is working on her terminal speeds and looks to graduate in May. This will help her finish out her last semester without worrying about finances, which will allow her to concentrate on her classes and practice so she can complete this program.”

Student Intern Scholarships

Tanner Kockler

“I thank NCRF for the awesome support they give students. I plan to apply [this scholarship] toward my remaining classes and testing fees as I get ready to graduate,” said Kockler. “I had briefly heard what court reporting was, and I did not know very much about it when I started the program. The encouragement from other reporters and instructors and associations like NCRA and ICRA make it easy to want to be a part of such a wonderful profession.”

The Student Intern Scholarship is a $1,000 award, given annually to two high-achieving court reporting students who have completed the internship portion of their education. Recipients are nominated by their schools and must meet specific criteria, including:

  • having a GPA of at least 3.5
  • passing at least one of the program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 190 wpm (if pursuing judicial reporting) or at least one literary test at a minimum of 160 wpm (if pursuing captioning)
  • possessing all the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including professional attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

Mackenzie Allen

“My aunt was a court reporter for the state of Iowa. I job-shadowed her when I was in high school and was immediately captivated! I always knew I wanted to go into the legal field, and this career was a perfect fit for me,” said Allen. “Receiving this scholarship will help me purchase a new writer, and it will help ease the process of all of the start-up costs.”

NCRF scholarships are funded by generous donations. To learn more about NCRF’s programs, visit NCRA.org/NCRF.








It’s a giving time of the year!  Make a difference!

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Sandy Bunch VanderPol

When you love something, you want to support it all the time, even if it takes a lot of effort and time. This is how I feel about our profession and the National Court Reporters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of NCRA.  As a Trustee on the NCRF, I have the privilege to serve all of you, as members of NCRA. It is indeed a privilege.

As a freelance reporter and an independent contractor, it has always been in my heart to support the profession I so love. I do this by volunteering my time and by supporting the profession with my financial contributions, and I have benefited greatly from doing this. Financial generosity is an important element in the success of any organization that supports the philanthropic efforts of that organization, and your financial support is necessary to the success of the charitable work of the NCRF.

I would ask all of you to please take a moment to consider making a charitable contribution to NCRF. There is no amount too small or too large. Your contribution will be spent wisely in supporting the many programs of NCRF. Make a difference! The feeling of giving – what a feeling it is!

Thank you in advance for your support. I appreciate it. Oh, and I forgot to mention, your contribution is tax deductible. And if you contribute $1,000, you will be an “NCRF Angel,” which can benefit you through networking and a number of public relations and marketing opportunities.

 

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, of Lotus, Calif., is an NCRF Trustee and longtime NCRF Angel. Visit www.bit.ly/NCRFYEA to donate to NCRF to support your profession.








NCRA members honor U.S. veterans with VHP event

Kerry Ward, far right, liaison specialist for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP), reads postcards sent home by U.S. Veteran Don Shearer, who was a German prisoner of war during World War II. Shearer’s wife, Martha, shared his story and artifacts for the Ginger Cove VHP.

Kerry Ward (far right) of the LOC VHP, reads postcards sent home by U.S. Veteran Don Shearer, who was a German prisoner of war during World War II. Shearer’s wife, Martha, shared his story and artifacts.

On Nov. 10, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), in conjunction with the Library of Congress (LOC), collected the oral histories of 10 U.S. veterans who served in various wars during a Veterans History Project (VHP) event held at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis, Md., in honor of Veterans Day. The stories were from veterans who served during World War I, World War II, and the Cold and Korean wars.

“I was so touched by the stories of our veterans. I had no idea the depth to which they had suffered during the war, and I was so surprised at their willingness and even the need to talk about it,” said Diana Smith, director of resident services at Ginger Cove. “I would definitely undertake this project again in the future. I feel quite blessed to have had this opportunity.”

Michelle Houston, a captioner from Brandywine, Md., transcribes the war stories of U.S. Veteran Patrick O’Keefe, as told to volunteer interviewer Pat Mosunec during the VHP event held at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis, Md.

Michelle Houston, a captioner from Brandywine, Md., transcribes the war stories of U.S. Veteran Patrick O’Keefe, who served in World War II.

Since 2003, members of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) who volunteer their services have worked with NCRF and the LOC to record and transcribe the moving stories of nearly 4,300 U.S. war veterans, building a lasting legacy of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation during times of war. The interviews are then submitted to the LOC, where they are archived for later use by scholars, students, and future generations.

The interviews have been taken during special VHP days held around the country and hosted by state and local court reporting associations, firms, and individuals. Nationally, NCRF has hosted a number of VHP events that have captured the unique and compelling stories of veterans, including several Purple Heart recipients and from veterans of World War I and those since then. NCRF has also hosted three Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project events that used volunteer captioners to enable veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss to be interviewed so their experiences could be chronicled. The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project was supported by a grant from the American Society of Association Executives.

At the Ginger Cove event, the stories of the following veterans were collected:

  • James Andreatta – Cold War
  • Frances Bombara – WWI (shared by his daughter)
  • Sam Gustaves – WWII
  • John Henderson – WWII
  • Paul Herring – WWII
  • John Kenny – WWII
  • John Kuebelbeck – WWI
  • Patrick O’Keefe – WWII
  • Don Shearer – WWII and German prisoner of war (with an additional WWI collection donated by his niece)
  • Mary Jo Sherron – Korean War (interviewed by her daughter)

NCRA Board of Director member Steve Clark, a captioner from Washington, D.C., captures the story of U.S. Veteran John Henderson, who served in WWII. Ginger Cove resident Nick Mosunec is the volunteer interviewer.

NCRA Board of Director member Steve Clark, a captioner from Washington, D.C., captures the story of U.S. Veteran John Henderson, who served in World War II.

Kerry Ward, liaison specialist with the LOC VHP, interviewed Martha Shearer, the wife of Don Shearer who served in WWII and was a German POW. Mrs. Shearer spoke on behalf of her husband who was also in attendance but suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Ward was clearly moved by the many photos and letters shared by the Shearers, especially reading the postcards sent by Don from the German prison camp where he was held to his mother back home. Ward noted that these were especially valuable to be included in the VHP archive collection.

Ginger Cove resident Tess Zarba, who is 92 years old, shared her father’s story of service in WWI with interviewer JoAnne Luciano. “It was really interesting to hear about what service was like for our soldiers back then and to see the photos and letters and other items Tess shared with me about her father’s service to our country. I learned so much,” noted Luciano.

NCRA members who volunteered to transcribe the oral histories at the event included:

  • NCRA Director Steve Clark, CRC, a captioner from Washington, D.C.
  • Cindy Davis, RPR, an official court reporter from Annapolis, Md.
  • Bev Early, a captioner from Washington, D.C.
  • Tonia Harris, RPR, an official court reporter from Washington, D.C.
  • Michelle Houston, RPR, a captioner from Brandywine, Md.
  • Julia LaCava, RPR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter and captioner from Alexandria, Va.
  • Linda Lindsey, a freelance court reporter from Preston, Md.
  • Maellen Pittman, RDR, CRI, CLVS, a CART captioner from Baltimore, Md.
  • Christine Slezosky, RPR, CRC, a CART captioner from Chambersburg, Pa.

Cindy Davis, an official court reporter from Annapolis, Md., transcribes volunteer Martha Wooldridge’s interview with U.S. Veteran John Kenny, who served in World War II, during the recent NCRF and Library of Congress Veterans History Project event held at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis.

Cindy Davis, an official court reporter from Annapolis, Md., transcribes an interview with U.S. Veteran John Kenny, who served in World War II.

“I am inspired by the veterans themselves. I have an uncle that landed on Omaha Beach. Unfortunately, he never talked about it, and I never got a chance to ask him if he’d be willing to share his story for this project,” said Davis, who transcribed the interview of WWII veteran John Kenny. “This time the event was held at Ginger Cove Retirement Community right in my own backyard. How could I say no?”

Davis, who has transcribed previous interviews from recordings for the VHP said that she would encourage all court reporters and captioners to participate in a VHP event because their stories are fascinating and important to preserve.

Volunteer interviewer JoAnne Luciano talks with U.S. Veteran James Andreatta, who served during the Cold War, as Christine Slezosky, a captioner from Chambersburg, Pa., transcribes his story, during a VHP event held at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis, Md.

An interview with U.S. Veteran James Andreatta, who served during the Cold War, was transcribed by Christine Slezosky, a captioner from Chambersburg, Pa.

“Every day we lose more of our veterans. Who better to record their stories than a court reporter? The most gratifying part is just knowing I contributed,” she added.

“These stories need to be told and listened to, especially by the next generation,” said Martha Wooldridge, who conducted the interview with Kenny. “These veterans won’t be around very long to share their experiences and I think it was important for all to hear them and to pass them on.”

Learn more about NCRF and the Veterans History Project.