Review: A Student Rates the NCRA Convention

by April Frederick

April Frederick

From seminars about live captioning Coachella to an inspiring keynote speech from Erin Brockovich; from high tea with professional speakers to speed dating with working reporters; from a Diamonds and Denim Gala to casual drinks at the hotel bar– every single minute of the conference was informative, enriching, fun, and inspiring.

My journey to becoming a court reporter began about two years ago. After getting the all-clear from my oncologist to return to work, and my daughter entering school full-time, it was time for me to decide what I wanted to do with my free time and second lease on life. I usually generate a chuckle when I tell the story of how I decided on the career of court reporting. Having pursued a degree in art after graduating from high school, I knew I would have to go back to school for something practical if I wanted to have a good-paying job. My second passion was always the criminal justice system and, to make a long story short, my husband brought up the idea of becoming a sketch artist in the courtroom. I quickly dismissed that idea but felt he may have been on to something. It was his next suggestion that changed my life. “What about becoming one of those “typie” people?” The lightbulb immediately came on and I knew he had hit the nail on the head.

I am fortunate enough to have been able to attend my theory classes in a brick-and-mortar school, and it was my being on campus that opened the door to forming personal relationships with the faculty and my classmates. It drew me into becoming involved with my school’s Captioning and Court Reporting (CCR) Club. The main purpose of our club is to facilitate students in attending professional enrichment events. It was through the CCR Club that I first learned about Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA) and NCRA conferences. I attended the OCRA conference, which was conveniently located near where I live in Parma, Ohio, in March of this year. The experience was invaluable to me and many of the working reporters I was networking with there suggested I attend the NCRA conference this year. I knew I would do whatever it took to attend. Miraculously, the conference was scheduled during my break from school and before my kids had to be back in their school. The timing was perfect, and the flight was booked.

The day I left for Denver, I was excited and nervous. I was not sure how different it would be as a student attending a national conference as opposed to a local one. Also, when I attended my state conference, I was one of many students from my school attending. This time, I was all by myself. I knew I had two faculty members attending, but I also knew they had educator seminars to attend, and I would have to rely on myself to navigate the convention center and socialize with strangers. In other words, I had to put my big girl pants on.

As soon as I stepped into the welcome area of the convention, I was greeted by a working reporter who exclaimed, “Yay! Another student!” I was whisked over to the registration table, all my nerves had vanished, and I felt completely at home. I cannot tell you how many professionals I engaged with during my three days at the convention, but I can tell you that I felt complete support and acceptance from everyone I had the pleasure of meeting. I have so many business cards that I need to invest in a Rolodex to fit them all.

In addition to having been accepted by the working professionals and attending seminars geared more toward them, I also attended ones geared strictly for students. The student events were some of my favorites because of the gracious and open nature of the speakers at those events. It also allowed me to meet other students from all over the United States and abroad and feel comfort in being able to talk to someone who can relate, right now, to what I am going through with school.

From seminars about live captioning Coachella to an inspiring keynote speech from Erin Brockovich; from high tea with professional speakers to speed dating with working reporters; from a Diamonds and Denim Gala to casual drinks at the hotel bar — every single minute of the conference was informative, enriching, fun, and inspiring. I would encourage every student to attend their state conference, but I would especially recommend doing whatever you can to attend at least one NCRA convention in your school career. I can promise you it will be completely worth the travel and expense because you cannot put a price on the information I learned, the contacts I  acquired, or the confidence and inspiration I felt upon my return to Parma, Ohio, to finish up what will hopefully be my last year as a student at Cuyahoga Community College.

April Frederick is president of the Captioning and Court Reporting Club at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio.

Striking a different key, and hitting a new note

A young woman sits in front of a steno machine poised as ready to write. Her laptop is open on the table in front of her.Brittaney Byers, of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Parma, Ohio, has been working at the keys since she was 4 years old, practicing her drills and improving her finger dexterity. Before starting at Tri-C, she had been trained by some of the best at Cleveland State University. But Byers isn’t a lifelong stenographer; she’s a pianist who went searching for a different tune.

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?

When I came out of high school, I was originally aiming for a career in music therapy. However, that didn’t work out. I ended up studying at Cuyahoga Community College after leaving my previous university, originally for a degree in liberal arts, and then switching to the court reporting and captioning program.

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

When I was studying at Tri-C, I was kind of unsure about what I should focus on studying while I was there, and I was looking for a career that would allow flexibility in my schedule and a lot of typing, which I enjoyed. (At the time, I had no idea that writing on a steno machine was any different than writing on a QWERTY keyboard.) I happened to be looking at television one day, saw the captions running across the bottom of the screen, and thought, “I wonder who does that, and I wonder if I could do that.” I looked up stenography and found out there was a court reporting and captioning program at the school I was already currently attending! I just decided to go for it!

How does being a pianist translate into stenography? What about it makes it easier (or harder) to write?  

I think I’m better able to learn briefs and finger combinations than I would be if I didn’t study piano. I also think I’m at a better place with my finger dexterity. However, the thing that helps the most is not from a writing perspective. Studying piano in school was very similar to studying stenography. Most of the things that my professors ask me to do now are the same as what my music professors asked me to do. Things like keeping a practice journal, reading back (or listening to myself) for feedback, using a metronome, isolating problem areas, and many other practice techniques are all things that I was introduced to (and continue to learn and work on now) while I was studying piano.

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

The more I learn about this field, the more I realize how critical good organizational skills are to a successful court reporter. This is definitely something that I am still working on and will probably be working on for a very long time to improve. I can only imagine how much it takes to keep your schedule together for jobs (especially if you work with more than one agency), organize taxes and other financial things, and keep the rest of your life in order.

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

My biggest challenge is trying to find a healthy balance between work, school, and life. I am currently working full time, which is not something I was doing when I was studying music, so trying to find the correct balance between earning enough income and having enough time and energy to practice is something that I am working to perfect.

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

I’ve been hearing this piece of advice in different forms and different places recently, but it still rings true. The biggest battle you have to fight will be with yourself. I have to continuously believe that I can do it. The speed is not going to be my biggest problem; it’s going to be my mindset. I have to battle myself to get on the machine after a long day of work, to stay encouraged after a bad test, or to do just five more minutes of writing when I feel I can’t anymore. I know if I can win the battle within myself and develop a positive mindset, and continue to improve my discipline, I will be able to succeed, no matter what.

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?

I would let them know that if they wanted a career that would grant them a lot of flexibility and a high earning potential, they should join the court reporting field! We need more new faces! Of course, I would let them know that learning stenography and getting up to speed require a lot of discipline, but for the people who stick it through, there is great reward. I would tell them about the amazing experience I’ve had here at Tri-C and the awesome and supportive staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with. They will really do their part to make sure you have the best chance at success.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I hope to have passed the RPR Exam, and to have finished the court reporting and captioning program at Tri-C. I really want to go out to southern California and work there either doing freelance work or CART.








Speed challenge gives students serious practice time by treating it like work

Collage of photos: In one, a groupd photo of people standing around a chair covered in red velvet cloth (one person is sitting in the chair); everyone is wearing gold plastic crowns and there is an open treasure chest. Along the side are three individual photos of smiling students sitting in the red velvet chair next to the treasure chest and holding a plastic sword or a ribbon streamer.

Tri-C students who participated in the “Slay a speed in seven hours” event. Right, top to bottom: Tara Harris, Nicole Parobek, Brittaney Byers

Eleven students from the Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio, committed to participate in a challenge dubbed “Slay a speed in seven hours,” designed to focus them on serious practice time while treating it like the work it is.

During the event, which ran from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., each student was given an individualized practice plan and goal by their instructor. After each hour, progress was evaluated and any adjustments were made accordingly, explained Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C program manager and adjunct faculty.

“After lunch, speed tests were taken for the remainder of the day. Stroke/word counts were tallied for the day, and 152,203 strokes/words were written,” Moranz said. “All students demonstrated progress in their writing, and 12 speed tests were passed — one being a 225 Q&A!”

According to Tri-C Associate Professor Jen Krueger, RMR, CRI, CPE, the idea of the challenge grew from discussions with students about ways to approach practice time seriously.

“The challenge seemed a good way to demonstrate that practice takes a lot of work, by offering students a seven-hour workday. Lots of practice occurs, but in evaluating practice times and habits from homework, it was realized that a focused, longer day of skill development was needed,” Krueger said.

According to Moranz, Tri-C offers its court reporting and captioning students similar challenges from time to time, such as seeing who can practice the most hours, who can write the most strokes, and who can practice the most days in a row without missing a single day.

“Students who passed a test received a specially created certificate with a graphic of a sword going through the steno machine. Our focus was to motivate them for the sake of learning and recognize their efforts toward success, with a tangible prize secondary to the personal reward of gaining speed and accuracy,” Moranz said.

“I attended the ‘Slay a speed’ event, and it was beneficial for me because I passed a speed test,” said Tara Harris, a student in Tri-C’s court reporting program. “I think it helped to be away from home in a classroom setting or maybe it was the structure of the event with the mission to write as much as you can each hour. Also, our phones were confiscated upon arrival, and that helped because I didn’t even think about my phone.”

“Challenges provide the opportunity for students to focus on the positive aspects of their work, recognize their successes as well as their challenges, build camaraderie, and strengthen their commitment to complete the program and reach their goals,” said Krueger.

Krueger added: “Veering away from the usual routine of school work can be invigorating as the personal, academic, and physical skill improvements are seen as positive and motivating.”








Demand is growing in the captioning and court reporting profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn interview with NCRA member Kelly Moranz, CRI, program manager and adjunct faculty at Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio, about the growing demand in the captioning and court reporting profession was posted Oct. 1 by Smart Business.

Read more.








Tri-C annual open house boosts summer enrollment

The court reporting and captioning professions captivated attendees at the annual open house held April 25 by Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Sponsored by the college’s court reporting and captioning program, the event drew 75 attendees wanting to know more about the career choice and benefits.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s program manager, attendees got an overview of the court reporting and captioning professions, including information about various work venues, earning potential, flexibility, and the college’s program. Attendees then embarked on a speed networking activity that allowed them to ask faculty, professionals, and current students more about available career opportunities, campus life, and scholarships.

“The opening comments were captioned remotely and put onto a large-screen monitor to demonstrate how captioning works,” said Moranz. “Overall, the open house resulted in numerous inquiries about how to get started, and there has been an increased enrollment in our summer introductory courses.”

Other topics addressed during the speed networking activity included a brief overview of the theory of steno, the importance of good English and grammar skills required by court reporters, examples of real-life experiences shared by professionals currently working in the field, and the chance to try writing on an actual machine.








Tri-C open house to showcase captioning and court reporting

JCR logoThe Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga, Ohio, announced in a press release issued April 17 that it will hold an open house on April 25 to showcase career opportunities in the growing field of captioning and court reporting.

Read more.








Students giving back to students

In the fall of 2015, Suzanne Rafferty and Kristina Carmody, court reporting students at the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, co-founded a Court Reporting and Captioning Club with a mission to connect fellow students, support the profession, and help increase awareness about court reporting and captioning as viable career choices. Since the club’s launch, members have worked tirelessly to meet those goals. Recently, the club hosted its second Write-a-thon, a fundraising effort to raise monies to support court reporting students. In a recent interview, Rafferty, on track to graduate in 2017 and planning a career path in captioning work, talked about Tri-C’s Court Reporting and Captioning Club and the success it has had.

How long has the Captioning and Court Reporting Club been in existence?

Since 2015. We are the first club to include both online students and on-campus students. We have had students from Illinois and Pennsylvania travel to the campus to participate in person and connect with their fellow club members, too.

What is a Write-a-thon exactly?

tric-3_resizedClub members that signed up for the Write-a-thon were asked to obtain sponsors that would give money based on the number of hours the student would be writing. For example, I would get $10 for every hour I would write for the four-hour period. If I wrote for the entire time, I would collect $40 from the sponsor. We had a 10-minute break at the end of each hour. Sponsors were also able to donate a flat donation if desired. This year we did ask that everyone reach out to professionals as well as family and friends for sponsorship. All funds raised by the club are then matched by the college as well.

This is the club’s second Write-a-thon. How did the idea get started?

The idea came up at the beginning of last year when the officers and club advisors had a meeting and started brainstorming about what we could do to raise money for the club. It was a great way to earn money and bring exposure to the captioning and court reporting department.

Are there other aspects to the Write-a-thon event that help generate funds?

Our bake sale generated $370 this year, which is $100 more than what we generated last year. The bake sale runs concurrently with the Write-a-thon.

tric-1_resizedDo students from other departments in the school support your events?

Yes, other students support our events by purchasing bake sale goods at the bake sale table. It was held in the main concourse of our school.

What are the funds being raised for?

We are raising funds to go toward student memberships in state and national organizations, as well as helping cut the costs of required software and to attend court reporting conferences or conventions.

What other types of activities does the club partake in or sponsor?

Last year we had then-NCRA President Steve Zinone come out to talk to the group during Court Reporting & Captioning week. We had a CART provider do a webinar and talk to the students about what her job was like. We also had an adjunct psychology faculty member from Tri-C, Dr. Michelle Nicopolis, PCC, NCC, present a workshop about testing anxiety and lead the group through a guided imagery session. This month, we also collected socks to be donated to a shelter in conjunction with the counseling department.








Tri-C court reporting program open house draws large crowd, generates interest in profession

Signing in at the Tri-C open houseThe court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Parma, Ohio, hosted its largest open house ever on April 19, attracting 92 attendees interested in learning more about the court reporting and captioning professions.

The event, which was also captioned to provide those attending with a better understanding of realtime, outlined the various areas of court reporting and benefits such as flexibility, salary, and employment opportunities. A speed-networking session allowed attendees the opportunity to spend a few minutes with a variety of working court reporters, faculty members, and students from the program to ask questions and learn more about the profession.

Participants in the speed-networking portion addressed questions about speedbuilding, steno theory, CART and captioning work, the importance of English and grammar skills to succeed in the profession, what it is like to distance learn, Tri-C Court Reporting and Captioning Club activities, the student experience, and available scholarships.

Suzy Rafferty, Tri-C student, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open house NCRA Immediate Past President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio, was also on hand to share information about the benefits of membership in NCRA and the Ohio Court Reporters Association.

“I was invited to speak about working as an official court reporter as well as about the importance of membership in professional associations while in school as a student in addition to as a professional in the field,” said Nageotte.

“While I was speaking specifically to my experience in working in the court systems of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and now the federal courts, I was fortunate to be able to refer to all arenas encompassed within the profession, including CART and broadcast captioning and freelance reporting and the benefits to each,” said Nageotte.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open houseNageotte said that the strong interest expressed by attendees about the 100 percent placement rate for graduates of Tri-C’s program also prompted her to share the information about retirement rates and job opportunities for the future in the profession based on the findings of the 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide commissioned by NCRA.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, the attendees represented a mix of all ages and demographics. She said that they had heard about the event either through stories featured by local print and broadcast media outlets, demonstrations and presentations at career fairs and community events, or a flyer they received in the mail.

The speed networking session at the Tri-C open house.“We had very positive feedback on the effectiveness of the speed-networking format in providing information along with insight into the program and profession,” said Moranz.

Moranz said after the event she received a number of emails from attendees expressing interest in enrolling in the Tri-C program as well as from one parent who wrote: “It was very informative, and what a turnout! I may pass this info on to my daughter. Thanks for inviting me.”

The event wrapped up with attendees having the opportunity to ask additional questions, try their hand at a steno machine, and learn more about Tri-C’s program and application process.








Tri-C instructor wins award for drawing students into unheralded profession

Kelly Moranz, CRI, manager of the court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio, was featured in an article posted April 6 by Fresh Water. The article includes Moranz’s comments about the growing opportunities in the court reporting profession, as well as notes that she was recently name a recipient of the JCR Awards for leadership and teambuilding.

Read more.








Announcing the winners of the JCR Awards

The JCR Awards were created as a way to highlight the innovative and forward-thinking practices of NCRA members and to recognize how court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers are leading the profession.

These individuals and organizations are being recognized as being the best-in-class for the noted categories.

Wendy Evangelista, Claudia Booton, Judy Stevens, Rachel Fox and Chandra Monis.

From left to right: Wendy Evangelista, Claudia Booton (sitting), Judy Stevens, Rachel Fox, and Chandra Monis.

Leadership and team-building

Judy Stevens, RPR, CMRS, CPE

Lakewood, Colo.

Judy Stevens, who owns Stevens-Koenig Reporting, was nominated by several reporters and staff members, who shared stories of her leadership and drive. “I’m one of four reporters who are tag-teaming an unusual trial case. Judy’s help in guiding me through what is outside of my comfort zone is quite reassuring,” wrote Becky Collings, RPR. “I recently passed the Colorado Realtime Certification test, and Judy is getting me ready to start that next journey of my career.” Several of the nominations also spoke about the meetings, often held at her home, where reporters can get together to socialize and ex- change steno briefs. Stevens has also brought in realtime trainers or motivational speakers for her staff and reporters for these gatherings, which have built a strong support network for everyone.

Debbie Weaver receiving the 2015 Spirit of Justice Award

Debbie Weaver receiving the 2015 Spirit of Justice Award

Community outreach

Midwest Litigation Services

St. Louis, Mo.

Debbie Weaver of Midwest Litigation Services has been actively involved in supporting equal access to justice through a number of pro bono organizations in St. Louis. One of the organizations the company supports is Let’s Start, a program dedicated to assisting women and their children in the transition from prison life to society. The company supports this group by volunteering at annual fundraisers and supplying packed lunches for a bus ride to take the children to the local prison to visit their mothers. In addition, the company has participated with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis in Read Across America, a literacy program; Motion for Kids, a party thrown for children who have parents affected by the criminal justice system; and other events.

White Coat Captioning screen from !!Con  2015.

White Coat Captioning screen from !!Con 2015.

Service in a nonlegal setting

White Coat Captioning

Saint Albans, Vt.

White Coat Captioning has been expanding its business to captioning several technical conferences, including a last-minute conference where the company replaced a group that was providing “nonsensical captions.” “People were very unhappy with the captions,” wrote Mirabai

Knight, RDR, CRR, CRC, who nominated the company (for which she works). Knight said that the company was able to completely turn around the comments. “As soon as we came on board, the entire social media reception to the captioning had completely changed. People started talking about how helpful the captions were and how impressed they were with the quality and accuracy of the captions, even saying that they wanted captioning at all their conferences in the future! It was a total reversal of the previous reception.”

Knight went on to explain that the company has been focused on the conference captioning work because it hopes to change the status quo, where the only way to get captioning was for a person who was deaf or hard of hearing to invoke their ADA rights. “One in seven people has hearing loss,” notes Knight, “so in an audience of 100 people, at least 14 will benefit from captioning.” White Coat Captioning seeks to make captioned conferences the new standard for conferences.

Christine Phipps caught in a relaxed moment during the workday.

Christine Phipps caught in a relaxed moment during the workday.

Individual member

Christine Phipps, RDR

North Palm Beach, Fla.

Categories recognized: Leadership and team-building, marketing and customer service, use of technology, community outreach

Dedicated. Hard-working. Determined. Tech- savvy. These are the words used to describe Christine Phipps by those who nominated her. “Christine Phipps is the type of person who will go out of her way,” wrote Jacqueline Andujar in her nomination. It was what inspired Andujar to go into business with Phipps, back when the company was run out of a bedroom in Phipps’ house. “Christine’s main goal is always to make her clients happy. She takes the time to listen and care.”

“Her passion is so contagious!” wrote Sherry Laurino in her nomination of Phipps. Laurino went on to say that it was Phipps who inspired her own entrepreneurial skills. “No one has more passion and love for court reporting and is committed to the growth and longevity of this industry,” Laurino said.

When she is preparing to meet a new client and show what her company has to offer, Phipps will go above and beyond to make sure the client understands and is satisfied. Even with other reporters, Phipps takes the time to update them with anything new and explains it. In addition, she has taken the time to write several articles on technology for the profession to make sure that everyone is aware of the latest trends and news.

“She is dedicated to teaching while not forgetting where she came from,” wrote Laurino. One of Phipps’ passions has been to help students of the profession and new profession. She led a charge to provide a number of students with memberships to NCRA in 2015 with posts about “Paying it forward” to the next generation, as well as donating several of the memberships herself.

“As her employee now, I have nothing but admiration and respect for her. She has been nothing but supportive, respectful, loyal, open-minded, and just an amazing person to work for,” said Andujar.

Honorable mentions

The Varallo Group

Worcester, Mass.

Categories recognized: Leadership and team-building

During 2015, the Varallo Group offered its employees a fitness program, which gave them the opportunity to establish health goals and meet and work with a personal trainer. The program was a huge success and produced immediate results that were clearly measurable, including weight loss and decreased absenteeism. An added benefit was that the employees grew closer through their shared experiences; for example, several employees ran together in their first-ever 5k race.

Cuyahoga Community College

Cuyahoga, Ohio

Categories recognized: Use of technology

The nomination for Cuyahoga Community College noted its use of technology to enhance students’ academic success, realtime writing achievement, and program satisfaction. From attending an introductory webinar before deciding to sign up for the program to its Blackboard Learning Management System, from using computer-compatible steno machines from the first day of class to accessing drills through Realtime Coach, the court reporting and captioning program uses technology to increase student satisfaction and eventual success.

Paradigm Reporting & Captioning

Minneapolis, Minn.

Categories recognized: Community outreach

Paradigm Reporting & Captioning donates to many local organizations, particularly legal associations and nonprofits that support the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The Paradigm CART Captioning division provides many hours of pro bono services, including, in September, the captioning for the local Walk4Hearing that benefited the Hearing Loss Association of America. In addition, the company assembled 22 walkers to participate as “Team Paradigm.”

Caption First

Monument, Colo.

Categories recognized: Service in a nonlegal setting

Caption First, a company that offers remote and on-site captioning in a secure environment, established a call center that would offer stenographic relay services to people with hearing loss. The company used this as both a way to hire new stenographic professionals to hone their skills and a way to demonstrate stenographic skills to a broad audience. “It was a ‘court reporting continuum’ as it allowed new folks to work and provided relief to those who are winding down and don’t want to produce transcripts,” wrote Lesia Mervin, RMR, CRR, in her nomination. “And it, of course, highlighted realtime skills — always realtime skills.”

Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio

Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio

Schools: Leadership and team-building

Kelly Moranz, CRI

Cleveland, Ohio

At the Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio, Kelly Moranz spearheaded a mentoring program among all of the students, as well as with professionals. In addition, Moranz has supported the students in creating a new Captioning & Court Reporting Club. The club organized a Write-A-Thon (where all students had sponsors donate money as they wrote for five hours) and a bake sale. As Kristina Carmody wrote in her nomination, Moranz “generously donated and contributed time, money, and service to our fundraiser and even stayed the entire time and helped sell the baked goods while we wrote.”

Moranz is also in charge of recruiting new students for the program. Among the places that the school presents is a program called Women in Transition, which addresses women changing occupations or getting second careers later in life.

Dr. Mary Entz, Provost, DMACC-Newton holds a press conference to announce new court reporting program

Dr. Mary Entz, Provost, DMACC-Newton holds a press conference to announce new court reporting program

Special collaboration

DMACC and the Iowa Court Reporters Association

When Iowa court reporters received the news that AIB College of Business, which had been in place since the 1930s, would phase out the court reporting and captioning programs, the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA) immediately went to work. The ICRA Board of Directors engaged Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, to investigate the matter, compile a report on successful court reporting schools throughout the country, and suggest a school in Iowa that could teach court reporting.

Penniston recommended contacting Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), a well-established Iowa community college, to determine if it could create a court reporting program. When Stephanie Early, RDR, ICRA’s president at the time, and Bill Wimmer, its legislative representative, approached the school’s officials, they assured the school that ICRA was fully committed to assisting with the implementation of a court reporting program at DMACC.

DMACC's 2015 incoming theory students

DMACC’s 2015 incoming theory students

The DMACC school was interested in the concept and contacted other community colleges that offered court reporting programs. They also gathered more information about the curriculum and endorsements that would be needed to put such a program in place. In February 2014, the DMACC Board of Directors and the Iowa Department of Education approved the court reporting program. Then, in March, the DMACC Newton campus hosted a press conference to make the announcement about the new program: “DMACC has been working with the Iowa Court Reporters Association for more than a year to develop the curriculum, hire the faculty, and work out other details related to starting a new program.”

In 2014, Dr. Patricia Ziegler, CRI, CPE, was hired as a professor and program chair for DMACC’s new court reporting program, and in September of that year, eight students began classes at the Newton campus.

Through 2014-15, Iowa court reporters and AIB’s former vice president of admissions actively promoted the new program. More than 300 visits were made to Iowa high schools, career fairs, libraries, mock trials, and the Iowa State Fair. Through the Adopt-a- County project, Iowa court reporters marketed the profession and this new program in 26 of 99 Iowa counties. In addition, ICRA sponsored a student scholarship, and individual ICRA members mentored individual students. And in September 2015, a new class of 27 students enrolled.

The program is a success story stemming from the commitment and dedication of many, from the Iowa Court Reporters Association to the new DMACC court reporting program staff. As Penniston wrote in her nomination, “Because of the efforts of the Iowa Court Reporters Association and the hard work of everyone involved, court reporting education is alive and well in Iowa!”

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