College of Court Reporting receives maximum initial grant of accreditation


Valparaiso, Indiana, July 17, 2018 – On June 29, 2018, College of Court Reporting (CCR) was granted a three-year grant of accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), the maximum available DEAC offers for new grants of accreditation.  According to DEAC:

Accreditation is a reliable indicator of the value and quality of the distance education that an institution offers. In receiving this initial grant of accreditation, CCR has demonstrated its commitment to educational standards and ethical business practices that assure quality, accountability, and improvement in higher education

Although CCR was already accredited through 2019 with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), ACICS lost its federal recognition on Dec. 12, 2016.  CCR promptly applied for provisional certification through the Program Participation Agreement (PPA) issued by the U.S. Department of Education and was granted that certification on December 23, 2016.  This gave CCR time to find a new accreditor.  CCR worked tirelessly to have an active application for accreditation in process with DEAC, which was accepted in the summer of 2017.  CCR worked on modifying policies and procedures to meet or exceed DEAC requirements over the next nine months in preparation for a formal evaluation visit by DEAC.  On April 3, 2018, expert evaluators visited the CCR campus located in Valparaiso, Indiana, to interview administrators, faculty, and students as well as perform a comprehensive audit and assessment of CCR.  The confirmation of the grant of accreditation came almost three months later.

DEAC is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1926 that operates as an institutional accreditor of distance education institutions. Accreditation by DEAC covers all distance education activities within an institution, and it provides accreditation from the secondary school level through professional doctoral degree-granting institutions.  DEAC grants accreditation to institutions for a specific period of time, prior to the expiration of which the institution may reapply and again be evaluated. Grants of accreditation vary in length.  DEAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  The current DEAC Directory of Accredited Institutions is listed on

This grant of accreditation is the culmination of almost two years’ worth of effort by all CCR administration and staff in making sure CCR’s doors remained open even when others thought they would close.  Moreover, in the face of uncertainty and dwindling hope for accreditation of private, post-secondary institutions, CCR continued to provide a top-notch court reporting education.  In fact, 23 students graduated during the last year, and CCR could not be more proud of their accomplishments.  Those students persevered in the face of challenges and obstacles in order to join a profession in dire need of keepers of the record.  Similarly, CCR met with challenges along the way, but its passion, belief in the importance of accreditation, and faith in its hard-working and dedicated student body propelled the school forward with a maximum initial grant of accreditation as its reward.

The College of Court Reporting has an online program that offers students an associates of applied science degree in court reporting.  For more information, contact our Director of Admissions, Nicky Rodriquez, at 866-294-3974 ext. 222 or


An unforgettable Convention experience

What will you remember the most about this year’s Convention & Expo? Members of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee continue the conversation about their experiences at past Conventions. What were the most memorable moments? What or who made the most impact on them? Read their stories here, and next year you’ll be sharing your own stories…

Len Sperling

Whitney Berndt

A young woman and a young man stand next to each other smiling

Shaunise Day (left)

Gayl Hardeman

portrait of the author

Kay Moody

Callie Sajdera

Members of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, Callie Sajdera, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., Gayl Hardeman, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, an instructor at Hardeman School (Tampa, Fla.), Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, an instructor at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., Len Sperling, CRI, an instructor at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Alberta, Canada, Whitney Berndt, a student at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., and Shaunise Day, a student at West Valley College in Oakland, Calif., offer their thoughts and advice for attending Convention.

JCR | What has been one of the best seminars or workshops you have ever attended at an NCRA Convention?

Callie | The best seminar I went to was with Margie Wakeman Wells at the Convention in Chicago, Ill. I was just out of Theory and learning the ropes of English and grammar. This was beneficial to me as a student who was just starting out, and she made it a lot of fun!

Gayl | Ed Varallo’s session on Notereading in 1973 in Seattle, Wash. I ended up training all of our typists and wrote a textbook on the subject two years later: Notereading: Twelve Weeks to a Career, as Gayl Hardeman Knaus (former married name).

Kay | They were all excellent. I always left a Convention “brain dead” with so much information and new ideas. I particularly enjoyed the initial seminars on technology when reporters were first learning about Computer Aided Transcription, CAT. There was always new knowledge or products for reporters, and there was so much to learn! I realized many years ago — we never stop learning — never!

Len | I remember attending a workshop on broadcast captioning. The session showed the importance of realtime in general, and the significant impact it would have on our industry’s future.

Whitney | I think my favorite seminar last year was the steno speed dating. It gave me such insight into all the amazing opportunities this career has to offer. I never knew some of those career paths existed.

Shaunise | I will never forget the seminar held in San Francisco, Calif., led by Clay Frazier and Kensie Benoit. I will always talk about this session and it should be a staple seminar that we continue to recycle as new students attend NCRA Conventions annually. Kensie and Clay presented on what you don’t normally learn in school. They put together a stellar presentation that focused on the importance of knowing your software, resume building, taxes, getting jobs, social media, and so much more. I hope we can continue to produce sessions that will focus on the steps a new reporter should take when it’s time to step foot in the real world of reporting.


JCR | Did you ever meet anyone at Convention who had a significant impact on your life or your career?

Callie | Yes. I met my mentor at the Chicago Convention two years ago. Her name is Anne Bowline from Casper, Wyo. She was on the Board at the time, and my director, Jennifer Sati, introduced her to me. She has been one of the greatest support systems that I have had throughout school, and she’s set an example for me as a professional and a future mentor.

Gayl | See above. I later married Ed Varallo, and he’s the one who got me interested in CART, which I’ve now done for 26 years.

Kay | Yes, not one, but many had a significant impact on my life and my school. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, many of the schools were owned by women and these brilliant women became my dearest friends. We shared materials, ideas, teaching techniques, visited their schools, etc., and have remained close friends throughout the years. Probably the only name students would recognize today would be my dear friend, Lillian Morson.

Len | There are too many to count. Most of these individuals are mostly educators who I have learned from and who have inspired me. I like to call them friends and feel I could call upon them at any time.

Whitney | At the Convention last summer, I met out current President-Elect, Sue Terry. Sue was so willing to express to me her love of this career and share some of the amazing experiences she has had. She was so sweet and inspired me to work hard to hopefully be given similar, incredible opportunities.

Shaunise | I have established countless relationships that will last a lifetime. I give thanks to NCRA for allowing me to develop these relationships. I remember during the lunch break at my first Convention, I didn’t have any plans for lunch. This was an awkward moment for me. I wasn’t the type at the time to even think about having lunch by myself in a restaurant. I decided I would grab something to eat and go sit in my car for the lunch break. I was so nervous once lunch time approached. Just as I was walking out of the hotel, I received a text from Charisee Kitt (If you are a student reading this, make sure your student badge is showing. Veteran reporters will embrace you once they see that you are a student), and she asked me if I wanted to have lunch with a group of reporters. The joy and happiness from that text made my entire weekend.


Don’t miss your chance to save on 2018 Convention registration fees. Register by July 23 to save!

Firm owners fill student swag bags

Firm owners are once again answering the call to ensure that students who attend the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. in August, get a little something extra.

Last year, firm owners generously donated special drawstring bags, flash drives, ear buds, USB cables, highlighters, candy, and more. In addition to the exciting experience of attending a national Convention, and the opportunity to network with the top professionals in their field, students walked away with a bag full of Las Vegas swag.

This past February, another request went out to firm owners for donations to fill special bags to give out to students during their orientation at this year’s Convention. The response was very positive and the bags are filling up.

The Student/Teacher Committee would like to thank the following donors who have already volunteered to contribute to this year’s student swag bags:

  • Alaris
  • Benchmark Reporting Agency
  • Doris. O. Wong & Associates, Inc.
  • Hanson Renaissance Reporting & Video
  • Jack W. Hunt & Associates
  • Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE
  • LNS Court Reporting & Legal Video
  • Memory Reporting, Inc.
  • O’Brien & Levine
  • OrangeLegal
  • Planet Depos
  • Rider & Associates, Inc.
  • Schmitt Reporting & Video, Inc.
  • Streski Reporting & Video Service
  • Summit City Reporting
  • U.S. Legal Support
  • West Coast Court Reporting & Video
  • Wood & Randall
  • YOM

More donations are always welcome. For questions, or to donate, contact Ellen Goff.

Don’t miss your chance to save on 2018 Convention registration fees. Register by July 23 to save!

My secret to passing the RPR

by Celeste Poppe

Celeste Poppe

I started taking the legs of the RPR in November, 2016 and achieved my RPR in April, 2017. I started with the hardest leg first and worked my way down: 225 Testimony, followed by the 200 Jury Charge, then the 180 Literary, and finally the WKT, passing each leg on my first attempt. During this time period, I also took the California CSR, which is 200 wpm, four-voice. Taking some of the legs of the RPR before taking my state CSR was hands down the best decision I made in my testing journey for two reasons. One, I passed the 225 Testimony and the 200 Jury Charge legs before going into the January California CSR, which really boosted my confidence. I remember thinking during the test, “If I can pass a 225, I can pass this.” Two, it helped my nerves because then my state exam was “just another test.”

While practicing for my tests, I only used one method, which was created by my dear friend (and “big sister”) Monyeen Black, Past President of the Deposition Reporters Association of California. We call it Mo’s Speedbuilding Method, MSBM for short.

All you need is Windows Media Player and a desire to reach 200 wpm. Here’s how it works:

  • In Windows Media Player, you are going to adjust the play speed settings. When you open Windows Media Player, right click anywhere in the box, select “Enhancements,” then click “Play Speed Settings.” Adjust the play speed setting to 0.9 to make it 180 wpm.
  • Write the dictation for one minute. Analyze your steno for any briefs you might want to create or have but maybe have forgotten. Write those down in your notebook and work on those during each take.
  • Go back into “Play Speed Settings” and adjust the setting back to 1.0, making it a 200 wpm. Write that SAME 1-minute take again, only now at 200 wpm.
  • Now adjust the speed setting to 1.1 (220 wpm), write; adjust to 1.2 (240 wpm), write; adjust to 1.3 (260 wpm), write; adjust back down to 1.1 (220 wpm) and try to NAIL IT! You want to nail a 220 wpm if your goal speed is 200 wpm.
  • When you are going 240 and 260, drop the punctuation, write slop, and just get something down for everything.

To recap: Take EACH 1-minute increment of a five-minute dictation at 180, 200, 220, 240, 260, and 280. Once you have finished this five times, then do the entire five minutes at 220, a notch above your goal speed. Doing this entire method only takes 35 minutes to complete. The best part about this method is that you can do it with any five-minute dictation and be at any speed in school.

So there you have it! That’s how I passed the RPR. I wholeheartedly believe that this method is so beneficial to building speed and overall improving your writing. Now get out there and go pass some tests!

Celeste attended Bryan University online, and graduated in October, 2016. She received her RPR in April, 2017 and her California CSR in March, 2017. She is currently working for the Los Angeles Superior Court as a floater.

Setting goals

By Kay Moody

portrait of the author

Kay Moody

Setting realistic, tangible goals is an essential element of completing court reporting school and developing the speed and accuracy needed to work as a reporter. When you take timed writings and read your notes, identify your weaknesses. Once you know the major reason you’re not progressing, set a goal to eliminate the problem(s) and work on them every day for five, ten, or fifteen minutes. Work on the same goal until it’s no longer a weakness. Work on drills and dictation takes until the weakness no longer exists. This article lists the five major reasons students do not progress and ways to eliminate or correct these hindrances: lagging behind and dropping words; messy notes; hesitating or missing briefs, phrases, and/or conflicts; difficult outlines or unfamiliar vocabulary; and not finding enough time to practice.

Goal of eliminating drops

When you work on speedbuilding, don’t make corrections with the asterisk (*). Leave the misstroke in your notes. Write the entire take, read back your notes, and count how many words you dropped, not the misstrokes. Take the same selection two or three times a day and focus on one thing: staying with the dictation and writing every word. Read back each take, and count the drops to make sure that you have fewer and fewer drops on each take. Continue taking the selection two or three times every day until you write the entire selection with no drops. Once you accomplish this, go on to another selection at the same speed. After you can write your goal speed repeatedly with no drops, go to a higher speed.

Please note that working on speed is different from working on accuracy for realtime, perfect translation. That is why you are discouraged from making corrections while working on speed.

Goal of writing clean notes

Drop down to a lower speed and write with the goal that 99 percent of your outlines will be perfect. Write slower dictation from something you recorded, and count all your misstrokes. Drill on writing the correct outlines for all misstroked words, repeat the selection, and use the same technique described for eliminating drops.

An excellent way to clean notes is to work from straight copy. Write an article from your textbook or the newspaper and write it at your natural speed without a single misstroke.

Goal of learning briefs, phrases, and conflicts

Instead of saying, “I’m going to learn all of the briefs in my brief book,” set an attainable, measurable goal. “I’m going to review briefs every day, and I’m going to go over one column (or 25 outlines) every day for ten or fifteen minutes until I can automatically write every outline.” This is an easily attainable goal.  When you’ve mastered that group with perfect outlines, tackle a new list or column.

Goal of being able to write difficult words and outlines

Similar to learning briefs, phrases, and conflicts, every time you hear a difficult outline or a word you’ve forgotten how to write, jot it on a sticky note, and write that word with its shorthand outline in your notebook. Practice a column from this list for five, ten, or fifteen minutes every day. This is an ongoing goal and something you’re encouraged to do throughout your court reporting skill development.

Goal of practicing more

Prepare a time management schedule, and make sure you have allowed sufficient time for practice. Establish time to work on word lists, steno outlines, drills, and other skill- and speedbuilding activities. Make a checklist, and check off all the activities that you accomplish each day. You must be disciplined! Identify your short-term, daily goals and work on them at specific times every day, at least six days a week.

To summarize the elements of goal setting:

  • Set a goal every time you sit at your machine, whether it is in class or a short practice session.
  • Develop goals that eliminate weaknesses, that develop strengths, and that are small and
  • Create goals that are positive, measurable, specific, and
  • Reward yourself when you succeed in reaching a goal.

Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, is an instructor for the College of Court Reporting based in Valparaiso, Ind.


College of Court Reporting welcomes guest speaker Tammy McGhee

Tammy McGhee

One hundred and fifteen students and faculty from the College of Court Reporting, Valparaiso, Ind., welcomed Tammy McGhee, RMR, as their guest speaker in the I-Auditorium on Monday, May 21. Tammy took time out of her busy captioning schedule to speak to all in attendance. Tammy addressed many topics of interest including why she chose court reporting as her career, a day-in-the-life of a captioner and freelance reporter, the importance of understanding and using her software, the benefits of being involved in and volunteering for the profession, the qualities of a new reporter, and some great reporting stories. Her love and enthusiasm for the profession was inspiring!

The College of Court Reporting knows what a few inspiring words from our professionals can do for the spirit of the student body.  Ashleigh Wiesman, a transfer student, said it best: “I just wanted to say that last night’s presentation was just what I needed.  I feel like I’m really struggling lately, so I needed that!” Lois Schoenbeck, CCR instructor, summed it up on behalf of all in attendance: “I love your enthusiasm for the profession. Thank you for giving us your time and knowledge.”

Tammy is currently vice president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association. She has also held the position of district representative and secretary. Tammy was an official court reporter in both Common Pleas and Municipal Court in Ohio and has been a firm owner. She currently works for VITAC as a broadcast captioner and loves to caption sports.

The students and faculty at the College of Court Reporting would like to, once again, thank Tammy for enlightening all and sharing her knowledge, experience, passion, and love for the court reporter profession. Thank you so much for sharing your great tips, taking time away from your busy captioning schedule to be with us, and giving back to the profession.  Awesome presentation, Tammy!

College of Court Reporting student graduates in 24 months

Kyra Kustin learned the EV360 Realtime Theory and graduated with the A.A.S. Degree in less than 24 months

Valparaiso, IN—In June of 2018, Ms. Kyra Kustin passed her final tests and received her A.A.S. in court reporting in less than 24 months! Kyra, a resident of Wading River, New York, was a recent online graduate of the College of Court Reporting (CCR). Kyra works as a freelance court reporter in New York.

In addition to developing a strong academic background, Kyra learned CCR’s EV360 Realtime Theory to master the ability to write with virtually perfect accuracy on a stenographic machine at 225 words per minute. As a result of her education and skill, she is capable of working in a variety of fields such as official reporting in state and federal courts, broadcast television captioning, educational reporting for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and freelance reporting for attorneys.

Before starting classes at the College of Court Reporting, Kyra worked as a medical transcriptionist. Unfortunately, that profession did not adapt to industry and technology changes, which resulted in less work and dwindling income. The scarcity of work combined with her children getting older opened the door for her to change careers and go back to school. A family member familiar with court reporting suggested the profession. Although very different from transcription, it was similar enough to catch her eye. She was also intrigued by the variety of opportunities (freelance, official, captioning, CART) and availability of a flexible schedule.

This led, Kyra to research school. She diligently proceeded to educate herself to make the best decision for her future. “I spent a really long time researching schools, and never heard anything but overwhelming praise for CCR, which made it an easy decision and by far the best decision I made. The support from all of the teachers and staff, and the overwhelmingly comprehensive education you get at CCR was more than I could have asked for,” Kyra stated.

While a student at the College of Court Reporting, Kyra studied general education, medical terminology, legal terminology, machine shorthand, and court reporting technology courses. She developed a strong background in English and communications. Additionally, Kyra received numerous honors and high honors throughout her schooling.

Kyra had this to say about CCR:

“First off, the program at CCR is amazing. I’m so confident going out working and knowing that I am totally prepared in every way. Second, making a meticulous schedule held me accountable for keeping up with the plan I had made for getting through school. Lastly, to be honest, I’m super competitive, and when I set goals, there’s not much that I will let get in my way.”

Kyra acknowledges that she completed school in such a short amount of time because of her support system:”I have three daughters. My oldest two are 8 and 6, and my youngest was born in June 2017, right in the middle of my time at CCR. She’s another reason I credit for my success. I found out I was pregnant a few months into school. I knew what was coming in the months ahead, so I really pushed myself as hard as I could to get my speed up as much as I could before she was born. I made it to 140/160 speeds in that first year. My husband was the best support I could have had. He never complained a single time about giving me whatever time or resources I needed to succeed. It was extremely difficult and there was a lot of trading the girls back and forth, but without his support, I couldn’t have finished school, and definitely not in the time that I did.”

According to an independent study conducted by Ducker Worldwide (Ducker Report), one of the nation’s leading marketplace analyst firms, demand for court reporters will exceed supply within five years, yielding a nationwide shortage. By this year, there will be 5,500 new court reporter jobs available in the U.S., with the greatest demand occurring in: California, Texas, Illinois, and New York, according to the 2013-14 Court Reporting Industry Outlook Report.

College of Court Reporting was the first online program in the country to be certified by the National Court Reporters Association in 2006. With the help of CCR’s modern theory, proprietary teaching methodology, patented speedbuilding technologies, and innovative minute-by-minute testing method, the College now maintains one of the highest graduation rates among court reporting schools nationally. For more information on furthering your education, contact Nicky Rodriquez at 866-294-3974.

South Suburban College to hold court reporting open house

The Illinois posted an announcement on July 10 about an open house being hosted July 26 by the court reporting program at the South Suburban College.

Read more.

What a room full of girls taught me about the profession

Merilee Johnson

By Merilee Johnson

As I looked out at the expectant, inquisitive eyes of a room full of 8- to 12-year-old girls, I came to the realization this was going to be a challenge more difficult than I had anticipated. Presenting to professional colleagues can be intimidating enough, but what could I offer these young minds whose only image of a court reporter (if they had one at all) is of a person sitting to the side of the action, “typing” quietly in the corner?

What I had envisioned as a breezy conversation (accepted on a whim) changed in focus to promoting and recruiting for the future of our profession. I needed to both capture their attention and convey that reporting is an empowering and fulfilling career. If I can’t impart that message here and now, how can we bring young people into the industry?

And how did I find myself in this position? About a month prior, a friend asked me to participate in their church’s career month, an admirable effort on their part to present the congregation’s youth girls firsthand experience with possible career paths. I’d accepted immediately as I thought of it as more of a personal favor to a friend, filling a time slot they needed filled. It was only when I walked in the church doors on that fateful Wednesday night that the broader implications became clear.

As I stood in front of these earnest eyes, I realized I needed to scrap the PowerPoint, scrap any facts and figures about the shortage we’re facing and how much reporters can make, and took a chance at speaking their language. I start the presentation with, “Raise your hand if you like creating worlds in Minecraft. How about learning another language? Who likes to play an instrument? Who likes hearing or reading stories? Who likes to learn, without having to do homework?”

Hands flung in the air with a level of enthusiasm only achievable by a group of young girls, and I shared with them that these are very much like the things I get to enjoy every day as a court reporter and captioner.

I explained that I knew a second language called “shorthand theory” and felt them lean in as I pulled out my writer. As I started writing, I showed them how I was pressing multiple keys at once, like you would a chord on a piano. I told them that I’d written a code, like you do in Minecraft, that allows my computer to translate those chords into English. As the words appeared on the screen, an audible “Whoa” could be heard. One nine-year-old exclaimed with her voice (and motioning with her hands), “You. Are. Awesome!” (which, of course, I captioned).

Having captured their attention, the obvious next step was to let them fall in love with reporting the same way the rest of us did. I invited them to come up and (carefully) put their hands on the writer and let the writer work its magic. Quickly, the concept of “carefully” was out the door as their curious faces huddled around the writer and they energetically started to push the keys. Like many of us, the moment their hands touched the writer, they had an unparalleled desire to learn how to write on it.

So, one by one, I taught each girl how to steno their own names, which elevated the thrill as they saw their names up on the projected screen. One girl’s misstroke produced the word “poop,” which, if they weren’t already in an excited frenzy, pushed them over the top and resulted in peals of laughter. It served as a reminder that in the quest to capture the attention of youth, the high road isn’t the only path. I used it as a teaching moment to let them know that even the best writers have mistrans, and that’s okay!

We wrapped up the session, and the girls reluctantly allowed me to pack up my equipment. As I did, I reflected on the fact that our profession is intrinsically interesting and, if properly communicated, can easily capture the enthusiasm of young people. Walking out the doors, I took with me a strong sense of optimism for the future of reporting and additional pride that these girls had given me. They reminded me that we can smile at our mistakes and even on our “poopy” days, what we get to do every day “is awesome.”

Merilee S. Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, who has also earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate, is a captioner base in Eden Prairie, Minn. She can be reached at


Retiring court reporter describes how a two-year degree led to a 30-year career

The posted an interview with retiring court reporter Ivy Albertson of La Grange, N.C., who shares how a two-year degree in court reporting led to her successful 30-year career.

Read more.