Get comfy for professional development: Exciting upcoming NCRA webinars

Front view of a person sitting barefoot on a couch with their laptop on their knees, blocking their faceCourt reporters and captioners understand the value of continuing education and always improving one’s skills, but it can be challenging to attend in-person events. With NCRA webinars, you can learn more about your profession from the comfort of your own home or office (not to mention that you can attend them in your slippers – no one will know!).

NCRA has a wide variety of topics coming up in the next month. The JCR Weekly reached out to the presenters to help whet your appetite.

On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, will present “NCRA members performed very well in the competitions), and the next event is in 2019 in Sardinia, Italy.

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, Lisa Jo Hubacher, RPR, CRI, will present “Training for Realtime Writers grants in 2014 due to its curriculum redesign. In this webinar, Hubacher will discuss this curriculum model, including the redesign’s impact on the program, what’s working, and what needs tweaking. As she describes it, the webinar will cover “how to design a program based on student needs without any curriculum-design knowledge.” Hubacher says she’ll also talk about why “‘But that’s the way we’ve always done it’ doesn’t fly anymore.” This is a must-attend webinar for anyone involved in training reporting students!

On Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, Santo J. Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, will present “Legal Terms, Part 1.” Aurelio has presented several language-related webinars recently, including “What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation” and “English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them” (now both available as e-seminars). Aurelio will present on more than a hundred and fifty terms, but he admits, “I really get a special kick out of four of them: alibi (in another place), durance vile (imprisonment), eleemosynary (charitable), and Esq.” He adds, “If I must pick one, then I guess it would be Esq., which is merely a title of courtesy, but attorneys think that it means ‘one who is an attorney.’” Aurelio will provide “economical but cogent explanations” for the words that he hopes each attendee will easily remember.

Finally, on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. ET, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, will present “won her the NCSA challenge not just once, but twice in a row; in 2015, she organized participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days in San Antonio. “It is so easy and rewarding volunteering for a recruitment event,” says Uviedo. “You have the potential to reach hundreds, even if you only talk to 50.” Uviedo has also found the value in promoting the profession over social media, and she hints that “one cool thing I’ll talk about is having attendees take selfies of themselves in front of their court reporting machines and having them spread posts about court reporting.”

Members who attend the webinars will be able to ask questions directly to the presenter and get them answered right away. But if you are not able to attend the live webinar, they will be available as on-demand e-seminars after the fact. Keep an eye on NCRA’s e-seminar library for these and other topics to help grow as a professional.

Donate your old machine and case to the A to Z Program

"Donate your machine for the A to Z Program" -- Four different models of steno machines

The A to Z Program offers participants the opportunity to learn the basics about court reporting in a six-to-eight week introduction to machine shorthand program.

You can assist the next generation of court reporters and captioners.

There is a great need for used steno machines, chargers, AC adapters, paper trays, ribbons, tripods, cases, etc. If you have these items, the A to Z Program is looking for donations and loans to programs in your state or local area.

Stylized image of a hand holding a steno machine -- white outline on a purple backgroundDonate or loan your steno machine

You do not need to ship your machine or any other items at this time. You will be contacted when your items are needed. We ask that everything you donate is in good working order and has been cleaned. This is an introduction to our profession, and we’d like the experience to be a positive one.

Complete this form and NCRA’s Education Department will add your name and items to the database. When needed, you will be contacted by a local A to Z Program leader.

Are you interested in leading an A to Z Program?

A to Z Program leaders work with small groups of participants as they learn how to write the alphabet and numbers in steno. This program does not follow any particular theory. Program leaders receive free training materials after completing and submitting a program leader Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). For more information, view the A to Z webinar and read the frequently asked questions.

Let the NCRA Convention & Expo give your teaching skills a magical boost

Court reporting teachers, administrators, or mentors looking to improve their skills, seeking new tricks and ideas to helping students succeed, or searching for ways to become a better coaches will find what they need at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

This year’s Teachers Workshop is held from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12. It features new and exciting sessions designed to dazzle and invigorate both seasoned and first-time attendees. Creating a positive learning environment through effective classroom management is just one of the sessions scheduled. It will be led by Len Sperling, CRI, chair of the captioning and court reporting program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he has been a faculty member for 20 years. His previous experience includes work as a freelance reporter mainly in the areas of pretrial and quasi-judicial proceedings. He has served on numerous NCRA committees and has presented at various conventions and workshops on court reporting education.

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.“It is always great to gather with colleagues regarding this wonderful profession so we can all learn new and different ways of doing things to keep our profession going,” said Allison L. Sedakis. A court reporter for 23 years, Sedakis is now reporter relations manager with Jensen Litigation Solutions in Chicago, Ill., and works with her alma mater, MacCormac College, also in Chicago, to help promote the profession to potential students. Sedakis will be part of a panel discussion called Court reporting school and onboarding: A firm owner’s perspective at this year’s convention.

She said sharing information with others can only benefit the profession and hopes that participants will take away new information about what brand-new reporters need to know and should know before taking their first assignment. “It’s scary when you are a brand-new reporter and there are so many questions. So we hope to help our colleagues provide answers to ease brand-new reporters’ minds,” she added.

Joining Sedakis will be Rhonda Jenson, RDR, CRR, CMRS, CME, a court reporter with 33 years of experience and president of Jenson Litigation Services for 31 years. She also serves as vice chair on the Board of Trustees for MacCormac College, which is her alma mater.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, urges all court reporting instructors and school administrators to attend an NCRA Convention & Expo and experience the building of relationships, the sharing of ideas, and the opportunity to learn more about the successes and challenges facing other schools, and walk away feeling rejuvenated overall. She said this year’s event is another opportunity for her to exchange experiences and information with peers. Moranz is part of a panel that will discuss the benefits of realtime writer grants to support captioning programs. She hopes participants will take away how important “the benefits of applying and receiving these grants as they provide recruitment opportunities, promote student success and completion to fulfill the employment needs of the profession.”

Moranz is program manager and adjunct faculty member for Cuyahoga Community College’s Captioning and Court Reporting Program. She has earned Tri-C’s Excellence in Teaching Award, NCRA’s Educator of the Year Award, and a JCR Award for leadership and teambuilding, and she has presented at NCRA conventions numerous times. Joining Moranz on the panel will be veteran court reporters and instructors Lisa Joe Hubacher, RPR, CRI, from Madison College, Madison, Wis.; Lori Rapozo, RPR, CRI, a faculty member from Green River Community College, Auburn, Wash.; and Sidney Weldele-Wallace, CRI, CPE, also a faculty member from Green River Community College.

“Attending an NCRA conference affords an instructor the opportunity to not only collaborate with other instructors but also to network with working reporters and students from across the nation to curate new ideas in an atmosphere that is exciting, motivating, and rejuvenating,” said Carrie M. Robinson, RPR CRR, CRI, a freelance court reporter and court reporting instructor from Hokes Bluff, Ala.

“Sometimes we get in a rut and are going through the motions. After attending a conference, I’m in a different mindset. I’m excited again and eager to put into practice all I have learned,” added Robinson, a court reporting instructor at Gadsden State Community College and a freelance court reporter with Alabama Court Reporting.

Other highlights include the school administrator luncheon, the Premier Session featuring keynote speaker Steve Wyrick, the installation of NCRA officers and NCRF trustees, the National Speed and Realtime Contests, and more.

Don’t miss the savings on lodging at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the host hotel for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., happening, Aug. 10-13. July 4 is the deadline to register to stay and qualify for the special room rates secured by NCRA. Plus, register before the July 4 deadline will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of your entire registration to the event. Also, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible for free breakfast and to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway. Don’t miss the magic of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, and the big savings on room rates and convention registration rates. Hurry, register now before the savings disappears. For more information or to register, visit

E-seminar review: Syllables: Count on it!

The informative vendor e-seminar Syllables: Count on it! teaches court reporting students and instructors how to accurately count syllables to help with dictation. The e-seminar is presented by Janice Plomp, who, after 28 years as an official court reporter and CART provider, became a full-time instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Plomp presents a software product called Syllables, which was created by Plomp and her brother. Their website states that Syllables provides a fast and simple method of creating accurate dictation materials.

At the beginning of the e-seminar, Plomp discusses how different sentences can be. For example, there could be the same number of words in two sentences but completely different number of syllables, which makes a huge impact in the world of court reporting. She then reviews syllabic density, the Syllables product, and the advantages and features offered. Plomp says, “It’s eye-opening to students to see how many syllables and repetitive words there are in a document. [With Syllables,] you can add syllabic breaks that you can save, and you can adjust the ease or difficulty of your document.”

Plomp spends time showing how Syllables works and ways court reporting students can benefit when practicing by using its functionality available in the library. Plomp states, “I got started [developing Syllables] because I thought there has to be a better way to count syllables. I can’t imagine my teaching career without it.”

This e-seminar is now available here.

Registration options for the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo

NCRA has received questions on what’s included in each registration package for the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo. Here’s a breakdown of each registration option so that members can make their decision before registration prices go up by $50 after July 6 (extended deadline!).

Full registration discount package

  • With general seating
  • With VIP seating

Best value! The full registration discount package includes admission to concurrent seminars, the Premier Session, the Opening Reception, the Awards Luncheon, the President’s Party, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include pre-convention intensive workshops, special programs, workshops, or the CLVS Seminar.

Partial registration

  • Three days
  • Two days (Fri./Sat. or Sat./Sun.)
  • One day (Fri. or Sat.)
  • Sunday only (half-day)

Partial registration includes admission to concurrent seminars on the days registered, the Premier Session, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include pre-convention intensive workshops, special programs, workshops, or the CLVS Seminar. Social event tickets are not included in this package.

CLVS Seminar

  • Three days (Fri./Sat./Sun.)
  • Two days (Fri./Mandatory Day [Sat.] or Sat./Sun.)
  • One-day (Mandatory Day [Sat.])

Registration for the CLVS Seminar includes one ticket to the legal videographer reception and a 3-day Expo pass. It does not include other social events, concurrent seminars, or special programs/events. Those items must be purchased separately.

Special programs and events

  • National Speed Competition
  • Realtime Competition
  • Special offer — Speed & Realtime Competition combo
  • Punctuation Workshop
  • Teachers’ Workshop

The Speed and Realtime Competitions are not included with partial registration, certification programs packages, or the CLVS Seminar and must be purchased separately. Please register for the Punctuation Workshop and Teachers’ Workshop to reserve your seat.

Certificate and certification programs

  • Realtime Systems Administrators Workshop
  • Realtime Systems Administrators Exam
  • Certified Reporting Instructor Orientation
  • Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop
  • Certified Realtime Captioner Exam

Registration for these certificate and certification programs includes a 3-day Expo pass; social events are not included. The Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop includes admission to concurrent seminars on Friday and Saturday afternoons after the workshop breaks for the day. Partial registration (Sunday) will be required for attendance at Sunday concurrent seminars.

Pre-convention vendor workshops

  • Advantage Software/Eclipse
  • ProCAT
  • Stenograph

These intensive training seminars are held on Thursday, July 30. Registration for these workshops includes a 3-day Expo pass. Select which vendor workshop you wish to attend.

Networking package

  • Networking package general seating
  • Networking package VIP seating

The networking package includes the Opening Reception, the Awards Luncheon, the President’s Party, the Premier Seminar, the Annual Business Meeting, and a 3-day Expo pass.

Individual social event tickets

  • Opening Reception (Thurs.)
  • CLVS Reception (Fri.)
  • CART/Captioner’s Reception (Fri.)
  • Awards Luncheon (Sat.)
  • President’s Party (Sat.) — general seating
  • President’s Party (Sat.) — VIP seating

Social event tickets are not included with partial registration, certification programs packages, or the CLVS Seminar (except as noted) and must be purchased separately.

Register now or visit the registration information page for a breakdown of prices.

Improve your teaching skills at NCRA’s 2014 Convention & Expo

Are you a court reporting teacher, administrator, or mentor looking to improve your skills, seeking new tricks and ideas to helping students succeed, or searching for ways to become a better coach? Then make plans now to attend NCRA’s 2014 Convention & Expo, July 31 – Aug. 3 in San Francisco at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and take part in either the Educational Coaching and Leadership Workshop or the two-day Certified Realtime Instructor certificate program.

NCRA recognizes that a multitude of factors go into a teacher’s ability to master a change in practices: limited amounts of time, pressure to cover increasing amounts of content, and demands to prepare students for high-stakes tests, among others. The association developed this year’s Educational Coaching & Leadership Workshop to address those factors and more.

The day-long, four-module workshop will provide attendees with a peek into the world of coaching, complete with actions they can take immediately to incorporate aspects of coaching into their repertoire. The workshop addresses an array of areas including:

  • Discovering what’s preventing individuals from reaching extraordinary performance
  • Fostering positive, sustainable change
  • Increasing communication levels and listening skills
  • Deploying tactical coaching techniques
  • Implementing skills that work
  • Creating cultures of engagement
  • Sustaining performance at high levels
  • Boosting student results
  • Leaving a leadership legacy

Module I, From educator/administrator to educational coaching leader, will examine who we are in building this future, explain why educational coaching is valuable, and help attendees to place the first building block to becoming educational coaching leaders. In module II, Building educational team leaders through coaching, attendees will be equipped with a foundational mindset that will help them see themselves as leaders, while module III will provides a unique and proven approach that addresses individuals, students, and the administration inside a court reporting program. Module IV will help educational coaching leaders to see a multitude of perspectives, understand the interconnectedness of diverse elements, and focus their efforts in ways that bring about holistic, positive, substantial, and sustainable change.

Attendees of the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo who are interested in becoming realtime instructors can attend the two-day, intensive Certified Realtime Instructor certification workshop dedicated to helping participants become better teachers, coaches, and mentors whether in the classroom or the field. Through interactive instruction, attendees will learn about successful teaching methods, communication tactics, and student coaching strategies, as well as gain insight into the adult learning process and develop a deeper understanding of curriculum design and development.

Other highlights for the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo include keynote presenter Tommy Spaulding, president of the Spaulding Companies Corp and world-renowned speaker on leadership, the installation of NCRA’s 2014-2015 Officers and Board of Directors, and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award — the highest award bestowed by NCRA.

Click here for more information about NCRA’s 2014 Convention & Expo or to register.

Why I teach

This year I have the privilege of being the Board of Di­rectors liaison to the Teachers Community of Inter­est. What a great group of enthused, engaged profes­sionals. They are passionate about the court reporting profession and dedicated to educating a new genera­tion of court, CART, and captioning reporters.

Many of us can probably identify a teacher that got us through the rigorous travails of mastering that frustrating little stenographic machine and all the knowledge we needed to be proficient in our chosen profession. For me, it was Cathy Logan at Central Pennsylvania Business School. She was the perfect com­bination of drill sergeant and patient nurturer. Without her teaching abilities, I would still be struggling with my 180s!

We asked the members of the Teachers Community of Interest to write a few paragraphs about “Why I teach.” Their responses are heartfelt and enlightening. Maybe it will inspire you to teach!

Tiva Wood
Board liaison to the Teacher Community of Interest



By Janine Ferren

I teach simply because I love helping a stu­dent find success. Whether I am standing in a traditional classroom and being the “sage on the stage” or working in an online course and being the “guide on the side,” there is nothing more rewarding than be­ing there when a student achieves a goal. I enjoy sharing the various opportunities that exist for a career in court reporting to the “maybe I want to be a court reporter” student. In fact, sometimes I think I can barely control my enthusiasm, as I truly believe this is a career that can change a person’s life in a multitude of ways.

Introducing the steno machine and working through those first lessons as stu­dents find they can write sentences within the first week is just plain fun. Reviewing transcripts, helping students hone in on areas of writing that need more atten­tion, directing students to exercises that reinforce concepts, and then watching as students recognize improvement in their writing makes my work worthwhile. Hav­ing the pleasure of telling students when they passed tests – especially that last test that means their schoolwork is officially at an end – is rewarding beyond words. Shar­ing a court reporting student’s journey is a wonderful ride to take.

Being a teacher is not always easy, but neither is becoming a court reporter. I re­late to the students, as I was once in their shoes, banging away on a machine, try­ing to get my fingers to move where they should as fast as they could. I finished a court reporting program, and my memo­ries of being a student are strong. I remem­ber what it felt like to practice for hours on end, to struggle, and then to finally attain my speed and accuracy. I want my students to find that same success and more.

I teach because I appreciate the effort it takes to be a court reporter, because I had good teachers who supported me and I want to continue to pay that forward, and selfishly because I want to be a part of some court reporter’s successful attain­ment of skills. I love to see my former stu­dents as professional court reporters!


By Deborah Jong

I’ve had a lot of teachers in my life. When you consider I’ve been through elementary school, music lessons, high school, college, graduate school, court reporting school, and several jobs, I’ve come across many different teachers, instructors, coaches, and mentors. Most of them I can’t even re­member. But there were a few special ones whose métier was to spark inspiration in their students and affect their lives in posi­tive ways. Those are the ones who really made an impression on me. They didn’t just teach me a subject or a skill; they helped me develop into the person I am.

Being a court reporting instructor doesn’t mean that I am just training stu­dents to become court reporters. As I coach them to develop their steno skills, I hope I am mentoring them to develop some life skills as well. I encourage them to care about the quality of their work, ap­preciate the responsibility of it, and strive to be better at what they do. This can help them in many areas of their lives.

The teachers who I remember most are the ones that contributed to the devel­opment of my character. What they taught me became a part of who I am today. Their teachings made a lasting impression on me. As I work with my students, I want to give them what I appreciated most from my teachers. I, too, want to make lasting impressions on them. That is why I teach.


By Janet Noel

I have been involved in court reporting for 34 years – as a freelancer, official, teacher, and administrator – and I think someone who devotes that much time to the profes­sion has to love it. And I do! The profession has been good to me when I was single, as a wife and mother, and now that my children have left the nest (well, almost!). Finishing school and becoming certified is probably the hardest thing I have accomplished.

As a teacher, I want to share my thoughts, ideas, and observations with stu­dents. I want them to know it is a wonder­ful profession, one that has many avenues. I want them to know that their hard work will pay off. I teach because I want to mo­tivate, encourage, support, and guide stu­dents in fulfilling their dream. I teach be­cause I want them to love court reporting as much as I do.


By Bonni Shuttleworth

Teaching is one of the most exciting ca­reers for anyone to embark upon. For me, there is nothing more exciting and rewarding than to take a student who, in the early days, could not even load paper into a steno machine and, a few years later, see that student become a working profes­sional.

I live in the Chicago area and I see many of my former students walking through the downtown streets of Chi­cago, dragging their “rolly” behind them, dressed professionally on the way to a job. My students are my “punkins” no matter her or his age. I see my job as motivating students as well as teaching them the finer points of court reporting: how to produce a transcript, how to set up realtime, how to deal with the varied situations that might happen in a hearing. My job is also to encourage those students who become frustrated with lack of speed progression. Many students are nontraditional, and I help them deal with life situations that may impede their progress and with family members who constantly say, “You’re not finished yet?” My answer to that is to dic­tate an 80 wpm literary piece and tell them to write it in French at 95 percent accuracy. That’s what we do: teach students to hear the English and translate it into this for­eign language we call “theory.” Teaching students how to manage their time and use it efficiently is a large part of what a teacher does. In a nutshell, I am filled with pride when I see a former successful student, knowing I had a small part in her or his success.


By Carol Crawford

Teaching is an interesting occupation. It is the process of introducing people to un­known subject matter. Different teachers use different methods, but I like to teach in a way that is engaging, inviting, exciting, and invigorating. In my classroom, I try to encourage constant activity within the learning environment. This tends to bring the student into an arena that will capture their attention and cause them to want to learn more.

This is why I teach: I love presenting new information to my students and see­ing their minds open up and engage in the subject being taught. I also love to see the students glean information from each oth­er. When this takes place, it seems that they have taken the information that I shared with them and made it a part of their own knowledge. They begin to add what they know to what they have learned, and I can see them take ownership of that knowledge and grow. This is such a satisfying feeling.

My first desire to become a teacher was when I was in the seventh grade. I had some great teachers in my life. They inspired me so much. I knew then that I wanted to be­come a person who would help to inspire others as well. Although I no longer teach every day, I never turn down a chance to teach when called upon to do so. I will al­ways be a teacher.


By Len Sperling

It all starts with contributing to student success. Through developing relationships, helping students understand concepts, and coaching them to become the best they can be is an exhilarating experience. I get my energy during the day by being with the students in the classroom. Teaching orien­tates me to continuous self-learning and development. If I ask students to give their best, I must also give mine.

Teaching is fun. I laugh everyday with my students. The students keep me young and current with the latest trends and ide­as. Sometimes I feel I am learning as much from them as they are from me. Teaching allows me to be creative and innovative. When the door closes to the classroom, I am given a tremendous amount of auton­omy and responsibility. It’s my opportu­nity to make a difference.


By Sidney Weldele-Wallace, CRI, CPE
2 teach is
+ 2 touch a life
4 ever

The saying above was given to me years ago by one of my students during my first year of teaching. I appreciated the thoughtful gesture and felt pride that I had impacted the life of that particular student in a posi­tive way. In the 22 years since, I have been struck repeatedly by the fact that, as edu­cators, we not only directly touch the lives of our students, but like the endless ripples caused by a stone tossed into the depths of water, we teachers in some way touch the future and impact the lives of countless others through the handiwork of our stu­dents. Our former students, now outstand­ing professionals in their fields, whether working in the judicial arena or in CART/captioning, improve and empower the lives of others by their work every single day. That point was driven home to me on a powerful and emotional level last spring.

My youngest daughter, who is now 19, was born with profound hearing loss. She has worn hearing aids her entire life and received a cochlear implant on her right side last year. She also graduated from a program of study at our community col­lege and participated in the commence­ment ceremony last June. During the even­ing’s ceremony, as a mother, I was beaming with pride for my daughter for overcom­ing so many obstacles and never giving up on achieving her goal of graduation. As a faculty member, I also took tremendous pride in the fact that the realtime CART provider providing services for my daugh­ter was one of my former students. I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, knowing I played some small part in setting the career direction of my student years before, never realizing at the time that it would have such a reciprocal and personal effect by benefitting my own daughter. Everything had come full circle!

I teach because I know firsthand that we do make a difference!


By Karen D. Sole, RPR, CRI, CPE

To be completely honest, I originally start­ed teaching to supplement my reporting income, but it wasn’t long before I was hooked. So for me, teaching started out as a job, then evolved into a career, and it is now my vocation.

Court reporting is such a unique and challenging program. As a court reporting student, you have to learn to juggle school with outside responsibilities, learn time management skills, and challenge yourself to go beyond your perceived limitations. As a court reporting instructor, you have to be a teacher and a coach, a cheerleader and a therapist.

I love the court reporting field, and I really enjoyed my own court report­ing education and training. Once I began teaching, I strived to emulate the teachers I had in school who helped me succeed, who encouraged me, who made me believe in myself, who challenged me to always reach farther, and who instilled in me a life-long love of learning.

The sense of satisfaction and gratifica­tion I gain in helping students to not only reach their goals but to challenge them­selves to attain goals beyond their expecta­tions and reach their fullest potential is a remarkably rewarding and extremely ful­filling feeling.

Profile: Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CRI

23Program director of judicial reporting/broadcast captioning program at Anoka Technical College and independent captioner/CART provider.

Currently resides in Dayton, Minn.


GRADUATED FROM: Northern Technical College, Minneapolis, Minn.

THEORY: The Big Green Book! I’m sure it had a name!



I loved watching my fingers fly on a typewriter, and I wanted a specific career as well. Court reporting was the perfect fit!


One thing I love about this profession is the flexibility in career options. I have worked as a freelancer, official, CART provider, captioner, and educator. The opportunities are unlimited.

I love how we all have our “lists” of cases! We reporters have so much to talk about when we get together. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work on the O.J. Simpson trial with West Publishing, the Minnesota tobacco case, the first AIDS litigation in the 1980s, captioning NBA basketball, and so much more!


My favorite gadget is my Kindle Fire. I use it to read, play games, and watch videos. I just need to find more downtime!


I am most proud of the work I’ve been able to accomplish at Anoka Tech, teaching this wonderful pro­fession to others and seeing others walk away with a deep passion for the career. I never set out to end up as a teacher; I kind of walked into this position. After I freelanced for 15 years, I decided to accept an officialship posi­tion. My office was right next to a new reporter who had literally just graduated from court reporting school! She would come out of a hearing and be so excited: “We had an interpreter! It was the coolest thing!” Every hearing was exciting for her! I felt so much joy watching her start out her career. Jill tragically died in a car accident after reporting just a couple years. Shortly after that, I found myself stepping in at the school with students taking their very first speed tests. Watching their faces light up when they wrote and knew they passed a test was just like watching Jill’s face light up when she was walking out of her courtroom. The highlight of my career is sharing this profession with students and watching them start their careers!


Stay involved! Be members of your state association and NCRA. And by all means, pursue your certifications. Continuing education is critical to staying vital in the pro­fession and, in turn, the court reporting and captioning professions staying vital to industry demands. Graduate, pursue certifications, and stay current with the new technology.

NCRA Convention & Expo: Conference Sessions


For many reporters, NCRA’s Convention & Expo is not only a great way to catch up with colleagues but the premier opportunity to learn new skills and track emerging trends in the profession. Attendees at this year’s event experienced a jam-packed educational schedule that not only covered a wide range of topics but also delivered the information in various styles and with best-in-class presenters. In addition to the sessions highlighted below, convention attendees also had the opportunity to learn about Cloud storage, wireless set-ups, punctuation, stadium captioning, and much more.


Attendees explored the value of the Internet and how best to leverage its unlimited resources at this interactive session led by seasoned court reporter, captioner, and CART provider Alan Peacock from Mobile, Ala. Participants were encouraged to join the conversation and tweet their ideas before, during, and after the session, as they explored the endless search sites available online, including YouTube, news sites, and specialized sites that can accurately identify an unfamiliar term, song lyrics, and even the correct pronunciation of the name of a public figure such as a politician or an athlete. Attendees also learned how to setup a wireless hotspot to ensure quick access to the Internet no matter where they’re working.


Changes in economic conditions, the advancement of technology, and evolving trends that are often viewed as threats just as often lead to opportunities, according to Adam D. Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, a freelance court reporter who has worked for a decade in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. In his presentation, “A Futurist Looks at the Freelancer,” Miller provided several examples of changing times once perceived as threats, such as the launch of the Internet, that have ultimately created opportunities for the court reporting profession. Once feared, the Internet is now relied on instead of a telephone book, a dictionary, and other once-popular resources. In addition, the Internet has led to court reporters being able to stream live video and audio and conduct deposition work where parties are no longer required to be in the same location. A current threat to the court reporting profession is the declining number of public sector jobs, warned Miller. But he advised attendees to seize the opportunity in the threat and work to identify new areas to which they can bring their unique skills as freelance reporters.



What does a court reporter have in common with a search dog? “A nose for truth, acute hearing, and swift paws. No bones about it,” said Chris Bergquist of the Sacramento Fire Department. The Search Dog Foundation, based in southern California, takes in difficult-to-place stray dogs and trains them to find live human survivors of catastrophic events. During their presentation, search dogs Elvis and Kari demonstrated some of their techniques by finding a child hidden in a tube and climbing along difficult surfaces. “They know it’s real life; they know it’s serious. The dog will not quit,” said Elvis’ handler, Chet Clark of the Oklahoma Task Force 1 team. The search dogs provided the demonstration at NCRA’s convention in honor of Atlanta court reporter Julie Brandau, who was shot and killed in her own courtroom. In her memory, the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project partnered with the Search Dog Foundation because of Julie’s life-long love of dogs. To date, the project has raised more than $80,000 for the Search Dog Foundation.


A panel of educators and NCRA board members led a lively discussion of how individual court reporters can do their part to help attract, retain, and train court reporting students to ensure the profession remains healthy and viable. Nativa P. Wood, RDR, CMRS, an NCRA board member and official court reporter with the Dauphin County Court of Common Please, Harrisburg, Pa., provided an overview of the work of NCRA’s Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force. Its goal is to help invigorate and promote the court reporting profession. In addition, NCRA Vice President Glyn Poage, RDR, CRR, a court reporter from Helotes, Texas, noted that court reporting students view working court reporters as walking success stories and offered a number of suggestions on how NCRA members can better support court reporting schools and students. Also on the panel were Kay Moody, CRI, MCRI, CPE, director of education for the College of Court Reporting, who offered insights into recruiting and training tomorrow’s court reporting professionals, and Jeff Moody, CRI, president of the College of Court Reporting, who explained the certification process at the state and national levels, as well as NCRA certifications.


With the help of local closed captioner and CART provider Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, the Hearing Loss Association of America Nashville Chapter has successfully brought CART and captioning technology to a variety of community sites including live theater, leisure and recreational activities, educational events, and religious venues. Menck, owner of Nashville-based Tennessee Captioning, and Kate Driskill Kanies, president of the HLAA Nashville Chapter and state coordinator for Tennessee, shared their experiences with an ongoing promotion of captioning services, as well as tips on how to launch a similar effort at the local level. The speakers also explored with attendees how to obtain grant funding for equipment and software to provide the services, and how to create a successful blueprint that will lead local venues to collaborate with captioners and CART providers on a onetime, free trial basis, to help determine if such services are needed.


In recent years, the U.S. Marshals Service has seen an increase in violence in courthouses. In a presentation designed to educate court reporters and members of the court family about safety and security, John Shell, senior inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service, provided attendees with valuable tips and best security practices, such as coping in an active shooter situation, recognizing an active shooter in the vicinity, and following evacuation plans. In addition, Shell gave his insights into best practices for responding to law officials when they arrive at a the scene of a shooting, training tips for keeping staff safe in violent situations, and precautions to take to help to prevent violent crime from happening in a courthouse.


An interactive panel that included Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CBC, Darlene Parker, RPR, and NCRA’s Assistant Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel led a discussion on the issues behind providing the captioning services that allow all individuals to have access to news broadcasts, sporting events, entertainment, and other television programming. Frequently cited was “Captioning Matters: Best Practices,” a working document that outlines NCRA proposals to ensure that broadcast captioners, captioning companies, and video programming distributors are providing the most accurate, understandable, and timely captions for the end user. The best practices project specifi cally covers live, realtime captions rather than captions created in the post-production phase of video production. Currently, postproduction captions are expected to be 100 percent accurate with no exceptions. However, for live realtime or near-realtime captions, 100 percent accuracy is not a reasonable expectation. According to the panel, in October 2010, the Federal Communications Commission found that 70 percent of all complaints regarding captioning involved transmission errors. Despite the need to address these errors and how they unfairly affect accuracy rates, the panel encouraged captioners to hold themselves accountable to provide the most complete, factual, and accurate captions possible.


Kimi George, RMR, a freelance reporter specializing in medical malpractice depositions, and author of the book Flip Over Briefs, encouraged audience participation in a session that examined the differences between left brain and right brain and asked whether court reporters are more right or left brain dominated. George told attendees that she believes reporters use both sides of their brain because they use their critical thinking (left side of the brain) to determine that they need a brief, followed by their creative thinking (right side of the brain) to create a shorter outline or a brief. Some reporters are better at briefi ng than others, according to George, because they have successfully trained their brains to create new outlines quickly. Because the brain is a muscle, George told the audience that they too could enhance their skills by training their brains and offered tips and strategies for creating new outlines faster, including practicing consistency in briefs, making main briefs the same every time before adding endings, and keeping things simple. She also suggested leaving out vowels and provided additional tips for writing medial briefs.

Featured seminars from the NCRA 2013 Convention & Expo in Nashville are available at Search in the “2013 Convention Nashville” category for more information.