Jim Woitalla’s legacy continues with student scholarships

By Jennifer Sati

As we all cherish our memories of Jim Woitalla and relish every single moment we spent with him, his legacy continues through his scholarships for judicial reporting students at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn.

Callie Sajdera, Anoka Tech student, and Peter Gravett, Anoka Tech Foundation director

Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded this past summer semester to students. All three of the recipients had Jim as their technology instructor, which made the award all the more special. The recipients were Jennifer Brama, who has since graduated; Callie Sajdera, a 200 wpm student; and Jamie Ward, a 180 wpm student.

The scholarships were presented on Oct. 5 at the Anoka Technical College fall scholarship dinner and ceremony. It was a privilege and blessing to have Jim’s mother and two of his sisters attend the scholarship ceremony and be a part of awarding the very first Woitalla scholarships. Callie Sajdera, the student speaker at the foundation ceremony, shared heartfelt stories of Jim as her instructor.

The judicial reporting program would like to thank everyone who has generously donated toward Jim Woitalla’s scholarship fund. Please know that the students are very appreciative of the thoughtfulness of others and that the money has made a difference in their education. We at Anoka Tech will keep Jim’s passion for this amazing profession thriving by continuing to graduate students who share his same passion and enthusiasm for technology and excellence.

Court reporting students Callie Sajdera (far left) and Jamie Ward (far right) pose with members of Jim Woitalla’s family

Since the inception of the scholarship fund, a total of $8,500 has been donated. We are hopeful we can keep Jim’s scholarship fund active with continued donations and use the funds to award two $1,000 scholarships annually. The family discerningly suggested that more funds be given out this first year or two so that students who learned from Jim could receive the most benefit.

Jim was loved and respected by countless reporters and captioners around the country, and it is a great privilege to be able to continue to share his legacy with students, our future! Learn more about how to get involved with the Anoka Tech Foundation and the “Judicial Reporting Program/Woitalla Scholarship Fund.”

Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and an instructor at Anoka Tech. She is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. She can be reached at jsati@anokatech.edu.

STUDENT REPORTING: First impressions in a social media world

By Melissa Lee

In life we are granted but one first: our first step, our first day at school, our first kiss. Firsts are so important, in fact, that it has been said that there is never a second chance to make a first impression. With that thought in mind, think about this: Potential employers often use Google and Internet-based social websites to glean information about an applicant they are considering for employment. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do the pictures on your social media accounts tell a future employer about you, and what kind of first impression will they be left with?

When you graduate, your transcript will not be the only thing you are selling. You, too, become a part of the product you are marketing. Your behavior represents not only yourself, but your future employer and your court reporting community as a whole. The activities you choose to participate in, your dress, and your appearance all become indicators to others of the person you are long before your work product is ever seen. In fact, most people will come to know of you before they know you personally strictly based on a reputation that precedes you in a field where honesty, integrity, and discretion are paramount.

Knowing this is another important “first”; that is, the first step toward making first impressions that demonstrate to others who you are and that you are who they want. Start by guarding your name and your reputation the same way you would guard your Social Security number. Be mindful not only of the things you choose to post and say on social networking sites but the things you choose to allow yourself to be a part of or to participate in.

With that said, remember that it is not always the picture you post on your Facebook or Instagram account that can have a detrimental effect on the impression you leave with others; it can be the picture you allow to be taken of you that is later tagged on someone else’s social media account. Be mindful of the things you allow to be written on your wall. While you cannot control others and their opinions, you do have control over what is on your personal page and, presumably, reflects your opinions as well. While not always fair, some will be judged guilty by association; so choose your associates wisely.

While an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure regarding one’s reputation and first impressions specifically, those who do have an embarrassing hiccup in their personal histories should remember this: Do not allow yourself to be defined by your mistakes but, rather, by how you choose to overcome them, never forgetting your lessons learned today and applying them to all your tomorrows. Own your past and the mistakes it holds so they won’t later own you. Be forthcoming regarding those errors in judgment so that you will never be presumed guilty of lying by omission.

While we strive for perfection, we will never be perfect. And while no firm is looking for perfection in an applicant, they are looking for someone that represents them, their values, and their company in a way they can be proud of and that they can sell to others. Begin this day becoming the reporter you want to market in your future by developing a reputation that you can be proud of and making first impressions that will convey to others the important asset you will be to their team.

Melissa S. Lee, A.S., CRI, is a teacher at the College of Court Reporting. She can be reached at MelissaLeeCCR@gmail.com.

DMACC students help pack meals for hurricane victims

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyCourt reporting students from the Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa joined students from the school’s nursing program and hundreds of other volunteers to help package 20,000 meals to help fight hunger, according to an article posted by the Newton Daily News on Nov. 14. The meals will be going to the disaster relief effort in Puerto Rico.

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Alfred State court reporting program ranked No. 1

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Oct. 27, Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., announced that its court reporting program has been ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report. Alfred State is an NCRA-approved court reporting program.

Read more.

Read more news about court reporting schools and programs.

Last call for JCR Awards nominations

Nominations for the 2017 JCR Awards are closing Oct. 31. Nominate yourself or another noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards.

Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story.

Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

Chaffey Joint Union High School District launches court reporting career program

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyInlandEmpire.US, Ontario, Calif., reported on Oct. 2 that the Chaffey Joint Union High School District has launched a career pathway program for students and adults interested in becoming court reporters. The article cites the findings of the Industry Outlook Report commissioned by NCRA in 2014.

In addition, in an Oct. 3 post on Business Wire, U.S. Legal Support, Inc., announced they are in partnership with the Chaffey Joint Union High School District in this initiative. The articles quotes the Aug. 8 post on LinkedIn by Jim Connor, RPR, CRR, CLVS, entitled “Court reporter shortage: What this means for the industry and for reporters.”

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.

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Eileen Beltz from College of Court Reporting honored with 2017 CASE Award

Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting, accepted the award on Beltz's behalf.

Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting, accepted the award on Beltz’s behalf.

Eileen Beltz, CRI, CPE, an instructor at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., was honored with the 2017 Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) Award of Excellence. The announcement was made at a special awards luncheon held during the NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 10-13. Beltz is from Avon, Ohio.

NCRA’s CASE Award of Excellence recognizes the important role student education plays in the court reporting profession and honors educators for their dedication, outstanding achievement, and leadership. Recipients are nominated by an NCRA member.

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Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Clark State Community College and Stark State College join forces

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyClark State Community College and Stark State College — located in Springfield and North Canton, Ohio, respectively — have recently partnered on a joint online degree program in judicial court reporting as well as certificate programs in closed captioning and in CART captioning. The schools are also working together on a Discover Court Reporting event with the support of Mike Mobley Reporting, which has offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. The event will be held on July 12.

The Ohio Court Reporters Association reported on this partnership in the spring/summer 2017 issue of the association newsletter (on page 18).