DMACC students pass court reporting speed contest

The Newton Daily News, Des Moines, Iowa, reported on April 5 that three Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) students were among the 182 court reporting students across the nation who competed in a speed contest sponsored by NCRA. The contest was held during Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

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CCAC to offer free intro course to court reporting

The Tribune Review reported on March 22 that the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pennsylvania will host a free introductory course on court reporting this spring. The A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand, an Introduction to Stenographic Theory, will be held from April 19 to May 12.

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STUDENT REPORTING: Adventures in court reporting school

By Rick L. Congdon

There is a fine line between perseverance and stubbornness. For me, court reporting school was the most difficult thing I had ever attempted in life. Mine is a not-so-short story about struggle, and it includes two storms, one being a court reporting student and the other a life-threatening winter storm in Colorado.

I started court reporting school in Topeka, Kan., in late September of 1975. There were 12 people in the class on that first day. Within six weeks, the class had slowly shrunk to seven. The dropout rate for court reporting students has always been high. I knew this from the beginning, but I was determined not to be a quitter. I had decided I really wanted to do this.

In school, I had not been a great student, even though I made the honor roll steadily my last two years of high school and attended college for a year. Nothing caught my interest. With court reporting, I discovered very early on that weak-minded me needed to be serious about practice and study. This wasn’t like my experience in high school or college where I could skip class, make an earnest effort at studying a little, take a test, and manage a passing grade. With this, I needed to be dead-on. This required real work.

I realized this after I found myself falling behind the other students. I was the only male in the class, so I felt a little humiliated by my slow start. Those girls were all naturals; I was not. They played piano, had taken shorthand, were secretaries, and had office skills. They were moving on ahead quickly, and I was falling behind. It was going to be a difficult road for me. I eventually found out that building speed was the most difficult part, and I, after much hard work, began to gradually catch up.

I thought if I out-practiced everyone by taking loads of speed tape daily, I would get over the hump and get ahead. What I found out by December 1976, more than a year into the course, was that I was practicing wrong. I took down hours and hours of tape and devoted little time to readback. Some of the speeds were below my best speed, some were at my best speed, and some were just too fast. I thought that taking tape in this manner would pull me along and speed me up. It actually slowed me down and taught me to drop.

I wasn’t progressing. I was also becoming frustrated and depressed and thinking about dropping out of the course entirely. This wasn’t the road I wanted to be on.

Let me digress by saying that I found out that I was at a point in my court reporter training where I had hit a hump, a steep incline, a plateau, or something I would describe as worse, a complete wall in my search to obtain required speed. I started out trying to visualize how to write what I was hearing, but as dictation speeds increased along the path to gaining speed, I had to be able to write subconsciously, without thinking of the specific key strokes so much. It was a process of listening to what’s being said while writing what’s been said with speed and accuracy.

Sometime in the fall of 1976, I passed three 120 wpm tests with 99 percent accuracy, the required accuracy to advance to the next speed class in our school. Passing my 120s allowed me to go into the 140-160 wpm class, and I was dead set on trying to get my 140s passed before the Christmas break. I would take tape all afternoon, practicing in the wrong manner as I have described before. I got so bogged down and so frustrated that I wasn’t even able to write 120. So when the Christmas break hit, I felt defeated and deflated, so much so that I didn’t even take my steno machine home that Christmas to practice. I decided I was going to spend the next two weeks at home, relaxing, seeing friends, going out, and having a good time. (Back then, in my early twenties, that meant drinking beer, going to bars, and meeting girls.)

Two weeks later, after this period of relaxing, frolic, and mayhem, I returned back to school rested and revived and ready to try to give it another good effort. Our speed test days were on Tuesdays and Fridays back then. We’d take the dictation in the classroom, and then run off to the typing room to type up the tests. I took tape on that Monday, but I switched things. I took three five-minute takes and then read them back as practice. That Tuesday, I passed two of the required 140 wpm tests with 99 percent accuracy. On Friday, I passed the third test.

Passing these tests caused me to think: “What had I been doing wrong?” I analyzed the situation and began to practice differently. From then on, I would take three five-minute sessions of tape at my best speed, and I would read it all back. I found that reading it back helped greatly because it helped solidify in my mind the keystrokes that I was making during dictation. The more I read back, the clearer my notes became, and by taking dictation at my best speed, I was helping stretch my retention length in my brain.

By that following fall, I had passed my 200s and felt I was ready to take the Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) test. The testing date was in October, and the pressure was on. I wanted to get my certification and get out of school. I felt I did very well on the test, or so I thought. I had gotten it all down and transcribed within the allotted time, but I did not have enough time to proof my work against my paper notes. The time allowed for the CSR test back then was three hours. When the results came back in November, I was devastated! I had failed! To this day, the only thing I can surmise is that I must have missed a fold of notes in transcribing.

This meant six more months of school, practicing, practicing, practicing some more, and working a part-time job that I hated. I was sick of all of that. I wanted to get going and get on with my life and my future!

By December, the classmates that had managed to pass the October CSR test had moved on to jobs and their future lives, and there I was, stuck, dejected, defeated, depressed, and unhappy. By February, I was angry — not at anyone else — but angry at myself for having failed. I needed to learn to transcribe faster so that I could have enough time at the end to proof my notes against my transcription.

About that time, a female friend of mine from back home had moved to Colorado and was now living in Estes Park. Let’s call her Julie. I had an interest in her but we had never dated. I contacted her and told her about things, and we talked about me coming to Estes Park to see her.

Now, I’d had that part-time job for about eight months, and it was very hard work. I had to go through about 35 delivery trucks every evening and pull packages that were headed for certain zip codes in western Kansas. They wouldn’t let me come to work before 6 p.m., and the truck leaving for western Kansas had to be gone by 9:30 p.m., so it was very fast work. It wore me out every day. Those trucks  were all full of packages, and you had to climb over the packages, checking for zip codes.

By February of 1978, I had managed to save some money, and I was going to be receiving a tax refund, so I had the idea and perhaps the need for a late February vacation and a visit to my friend, Julie. I had in mind that maybe I would move to Colorado eventually, find another part-time job, continue to study, and then take the CSR test there. Maybe this was just the move I needed to make! But in case things didn’t work out in Colorado, I wanted to try to hold on to my job in Kansas, just for safekeeping. So that Monday, I went in to work early and asked to speak with my boss.

He said, “What do you need?”

I said, “Can I have a week off? I need to go do something.”

He said, “No.”

I said, “Okay. I quit.”

And with that, I was out of a job and about to embark on a much-needed vacation to Estes Park and Julie.

I immediately went and had new tires put on my 1971 Monte Carlo. I went home and told my roommate what I was about to do. That Tuesday morning, I packed all of my things in the car, said goodbye to the roommate, and hit the road. Only one problem: I hadn’t bothered to check the weather report. Dead of winter in northern Kansas with anticipated travel to Colorado means checking the weather report for possible winter storm conditions. Not smart of me to ignore that! When I was young, I was full of stubborn arrogance.

Traveling down I-70 in Kansas headed west to Colorado gave me a feeling of freedom at first. Then, after a couple of hours, snow began to fall, and it got heavier and heavier. Soon it was a full-fledged winter storm I was driving through. With all of the stuff in my auto, which included everything I had in my apartment — my clothes, TV, court reporting equipment, books, and so on — the interior of my car was so overloaded that the warm air didn’t have enough room to circulate to keep the windows from fogging up.

The storm was throwing wet snow and slush on the windows that would freeze instantly to the wipers. I had to frequently stop and beat the ice off the wipers. The wind was blowing snow across the highway, and it was piling up higher and higher. The wind gusts were a constant 30 mph with sudden gusts up 50 to 60 mph. These gusts would rock my car back and forth. I struggled to keep the car on the road.

I must have been the last person out of Kansas before they closed the gate. It was near midnight when I got to the Denver area, but to conserve money, I decided I would drive on to Estes Park and find a place where I could park the car and spend the night, starting the car every once in a while to keep warm.

When I started to get sleepy, I would play the radio loudly, I would sing, or I would roll the window down a bit to get some fresh air. I did everything I knew to do to stay awake and keep going. Soon I woke up and found that I was traveling 55 mph down the center of the low-slung ditch. I knew I didn’t want to slow down and get stuck, so I kept my speed and sought to edge myself back up on the highway one tire at a time, so as to not start my auto spinning down the highway.

I got the left two tires up on the highway rather easily, but the second two were a problem because the highway had about a two-inch lip at the shoulder that I had difficulty getting over. I was halfway in the right lane and halfway on the shoulder of the roadway. I finally had to just chance it, so I popped the Monte Carlo to the left abruptly. The right rear tire caught the lip, and although I had popped the auto up onto the four-lane road, I was now spinning to my left at 50 mph down the center of a very slick highway. I spun around three times in the center of the roadway, praying all the while: “Nobody hit me, please!”

The car finally stopped, and the engine died. I was facing in the wrong direction. I quickly started the car and got it headed in the right direction. I thought, “Whew! That was close.” I then noticed that there were no other vehicles on the road except me, and snow plows were going in the opposite direction.

So I headed on down the highway, determined to make my intended destination. I had not gone far when I discovered that I had a flat tire. I must have run over a bottle or something in the ditch. So I pulled the car over on the shoulder. There I was, in the middle of the night on a deserted road that was probably closed, surrounded by snow in the middle of a winter storm that wasn’t letting up anytime soon. I thought about just sitting there with the motor running and the heater on, and then the thought occurred to me that if I had an exhaust leak, the carbon monoxide might asphyxiate me. So this could mean life or death for me.

I made the decision to unload everything out of the trunk, get the jack out, jack up the car, and put the spare tire on. I had a thick navy coat and a pair of gloves, but I could not find my sock cap. I got out in this blizzard, emptied everything into the ditch from the trunk, and got busy replacing the tire. However, the new tires were put on with an air-impact tool, and I could not get the last lug nut to loosen. In fact, I was struggling so much with the last lug nut that I was grinding off metal. So now my bad situation just got worse!

The storm kept blowing snow and sleet, and I would get in the car and warm up with the heater. (To this day, I can still feel the hard sleet pounding into my open ears.) The snow would melt from my head and face and coat. Soon I was very wet. I’d get out to give the lug nut one more shot. I’d put all my weight and strength into it. I would slip and fall and bang my knees into the hard surface. I’d slip and hurt my fingers. I’d grind metal off and get back in the car frozen.

By now, a full range of emotions were hitting me. I was scared. I was angry. I was swearing. I was praying. It was crazy! I’d thaw out again and again. I was frozen, wet, and frustrated. This time, I decided I would chip down through the ice to the asphalt. I would chip the ice away and get a good foothold and press all of my weight on that lug nut with all of the strength that I could muster, and hopefully I could get the darn thing to loosen up and come off.

I made that one last attempt and finally I was able to get the lug nut to loosen, and as fast as I could, I took the old tire and wheel off and put on the spare. Then I put all of my stuff back into the trunk. I got back into the car wet, frozen, and thankful. I headed on down the road.

Then I noticed I needed gas, so I searched for a place to get gas. It took a while, but I finally found a truck stop on the side of the road, so I pulled in. As I got out of the car, a kid I would judge to be about 16 years old who apparently worked at the truck stop said, “Did you just come in off that road?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “That’s been closed for the past three hours!”

I eventually did make it to Estes Park, but things there didn’t work out as planned. Julie’s new boyfriend, who I didn’t know about, wasn’t too happy about me showing up for a visit. So after a few days of time spent in Estes Park, I went down to Denver and got a hotel room. I spent a few days in Denver and went to one of the court reporting schools there, looking for some information. I met a nice girl who was a student there. We hit it off. Later I took her out for dinner and a movie.

I even found a job working for the telephone company that week. I was to begin working that next Monday, but, instead, I decided to return to Kansas. I left Denver and went and stayed with a court reporter friend and his family in Wichita for the weekend. That Monday, I went back to the job I had quit. I asked my boss if he had found my replacement yet.

He said, “No.”

So I asked him, “Well, could I have my job back?”

He said, “Okay.”

So I went back to work at that same job. A month later, I took the Kansas CSR test and passed, and in April of 1978, I began my career as a court reporter.

I hope that maybe some court reporting students will read this and realize that court reporting is an adventure, even when you are in school. You need perseverance to succeed. You also need to make good decisions. All of us who have gone down this road have had to work hard to get through school and get certified. It’s a mental test of your ability to cope and to learn, but nothing worthwhile is achieved without great effort! You have to decide that, come hell or high water, and no matter what life throws at you, you are going to persevere and succeed.

Rick L. Congdon, RMR, is a freelancer based in Fort Smith, Ark. He can be reached at

NCRA Launches Online A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand Program

NCRA launched an online version of its popular A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program on March 30, increasing the accessibility of the free six-week course to interested participants. The program provides the opportunity for participants to learn the alphabet in steno, write on a real steno machine, and decide whether an education in court reporting or captioning is for them.

The NCRA A to Z online program is a hybrid course combining both live online instructor sessions with videos and dictation materials for self-paced practice. The class meets online live once a week for 60-90 minutes.

“The online A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program complements NCRA’s popular onsite program,” said Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA’s Senior Director, Education and Certification.

“The virtual program provides the opportunity for those who do not have access to an onsite program to experience it online. The self-guided curriculum is easy to follow and has been designed to let participants learn the basics of steno writing. With the increase of online education, NCRA felt strongly that the A to Z program would be a natural fit to an online method of learning.”

Students who sign up for the online A to Z program can lease a steno machine for $50 for the duration of the course from NCRA partners Stenograph and ProCat. Students will also need a computer (camera is optional), microphone, and headphones or earbuds.

Students interested in the A to Z online program can sign up for sessions in their time zone. April 16 is the deadline to register for the first program that begins on the dates below.

  • Monday, April 23 at 6:30 PM ET
  • Tuesday, April 24 at 6:00 PM MT
  • Thursday, April 26 at 8:00 PM CT
  • Thursday, April 26 at 6:00 PM PT

“NCRA wants to thank its program partners, Stenograph and ProCAT, for assisting with the success of the A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand by helping to make machines available at little cost to program participants,” said Marcia Ferranto, NCRA Executive Director and CEO.

“NCRA would also like to thank The Varallo Group, Worcester, Mass., especially Cedar Bushong, CLVS, and Patrick Blaskopf, CLVS, for their work with the online dictation, and the College of Court Reporting, Hobart, Ind., for its support in helping to make the online program a reality with the use of their learning management platform Moodle,” Ferranto added.

The Association also sends a huge thank you to the members of its A to Z Task Force who include: Chair Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, Worcester, Mass.; Mary Bader, RPR, Eau Claire, Wis.; Huey Bang, RMR, CRR, Pass Christian, Miss.; Jen Krueger, RMR, CRI, CPE, Parma, Ohio; Jeff Moody, Valparaiso, Ind.;  Kelly Moranz, CRI, Parma, Ohio; Jonathan Moretti, CLVS, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Kathleen Silva, RPR, CRR,  Andover, Mass.; Doreen Sutton, RPR, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Stacy Drohosky, RPR, CRR, CRI, Hammond, Ind.; Lynette Eggers, CRI, CPE, Chicago, Ill.; and Eileen Beltz, CRI, CPE, Avon, Ohio.

“Together, NCRA and its partners and member volunteers are committed to increasing the number of students entering court reporting and captioning programs to help fill the growing number of jobs in these fields,” Ferranto said.

NCRA launched its onsite A to Z program in February 2017 in conjunction with Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Volunteer NCRA members serve as program leaders working with small groups of participants as they learn how to write the alphabet in steno. The program does not follow any particular theory. NCRA provides program leaders with free training materials after completing and submitting a program leader Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). There are onsite programs currently available in approximately 15 states.

NCRA is currently seeking 10 to 12 member volunteers with online teaching experience to serve as online facilitators for its virtual A to Z program. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at

Additional information about both the onsite and online A to Z programs, including volunteering to become a program leader, registering for a class, and frequently asked questions, can be found at, or by contacting

Student scholarship opportunities: CASE Scholarship application due April 30

NCRA is accepting Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) student scholarship applications for five awards this year. The CASE has increased the number of scholarships available from three to five this year to better support the future of the profession. The top award is $1,500; second award is $1,000; third award is $750; fourth award is $500; and fifth award is $250. To be eligible to apply, students must currently be attending an NCRA-approved court reporting program, have an exemplary academic record, and have passed one skills test writing 140-180 wpm at the time of submission. In addition, applicants must submit an essay on the topic, “Pick an experience during your court reporting education and explain how it has influenced your development.” Deadline for applications is April 30. See the CASE student scholarship page for full details.

Scholarship recipients will be formally announced at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La.

“I’m so honored to be a recipient of the CASE Scholarship. It’s great motivation to continue to constantly learn and grow in this great profession,” said Maggie DeRocher, a 2017 graduate from Des Moines Area Community College and a working freelance reporter. DeRocher was awarded a $1,000 CASE scholarship in 2017.

“If you are a student considering applying for this scholarship, I highly recommend it. Writing out your thoughts in essay form, no matter the topic, helps bring you back to the reason you started the journey to becoming a court reporter. If you are lucky enough to be chosen as a recipient, the scholarship helps to offset the costs of finishing school or starting out your career,” DeRocher advised.

Schools and students across the country celebrate Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Atlantic Technical College

Schools and students from across the country participated in NCRA’s student speed contest last month. The contest, which was part of NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration, garnered widespread involvement, with 182 students competing from all over the country. All students, from all court reporting schools, at any speed level, were invited to participate. All told, 17 court reporting programs had students compete in the contest. “My speedbuilding class quite enjoyed writing the student speed contest,” said Barbara Ladderud, a teacher at Green River College in Auburn, Wash. “Thank you for putting this together as a fun way to promote Court Reporting and Captioning Week.”

Cuyahoga Community College

For this speed test, students had the choice of taking a Literary or a Q&A test consisting of five minutes of dictation. Test takers took the test at a speed level they were working on or had just passed and must have achieved 96 percent or higher accuracy to be eligible to win a prize. Because the contest was open to students at all levels, schools were able to have many or all of their students involved. ”Thank you very much for this opportunity,” said Joanne McKenzie, a teacher at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta. “We made it a requirement for all students to participate.” The tests, which were written by Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, a member of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, were intended to push the students. Kay Reindl, CRI, an instructor for Humphreys University in Stockton, Calif., reported that, although “these were pretty challenging tests….most attempted the tests at their targeted speed.”

Of the 182 students who competed in the contest, 42 passed the test. “My students didn’t get 96 percent on either test,” reported LaTherese Cooke, a teacher at South Suburban College in Oak Forest, Ill., “but they gave it their best.” Three of those who past were chosen at random to receive first, second, and third place prizes. First prize, or the gold medal, was awarded to Kelsie Alford of Green River College. Second prize, the silver medal, went to Julie Drew of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and third prize, bronze, was awarded to Samantha Marshak of Realtime Center for Learning, Inc. in Garden City, N.Y.

Des Moines Area Community College

Teachers and students alike were enthusiastic about the experience. “What fun we had! Thank you for the great idea and enthusiasm it generated during Court Reporting and Captioning Week,” said Joan Rikansrud, a teacher at Green River College. “Thank you again for including us in your contest and for all that you do!” echoed Carrie Ravenscroft, Cypress College in Cypress, Calif.

NCRA would like to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Below are the names of all the students who participated in this year’s contest. Students marked with an asterisk passed the test with 96 percent accuracy or higher.

Arlington Career Institute
Grand Prairie, Texas
Allie Handlon
Deborah Quarles
Emelia Mullen
Jazzmen Garcia
Jennifer Ferenz
Rosalind Dennis
Sunshine Nance

Atlantic Technical College
Coconut Creek, Fla.
Alison Dituro
Ashley McCormick*
Carolina Rivas
Courtney Carpentier
Jenna Xarhoulakos
Lindsey Polin*
Samantha Kutner
Shawn Condon

Brown College of Court Reporting
Atlanta, Ga.
Amanda Bilbrey*
Amanda Bilbrey*
Andrew Shin
Brianna Shelton*
Connor Tatham
Crystal Foster*
Josie Thompson
Nicole Willoughby*
Nicole Willoughby*
Shannon Miles *


College of Court Reporting
Valparaiso, Ind.
Angela Viray
Ashly Richter
Brian Nelson
Desssalyn Kimbrough
Jennifer Hall
Kate Hargis
Kolby Garrison
Lori Ingram
Macy Thompson*
Megan Bowman  
Shaylene Mofle*


Cuyahoga Community College
Parma, Ohio
Devon Sneve
Kristina Carmody 
Teresa Nero
Vanessa Feistel


Cypress College
Cypress, Calif.
Eun Young (Joyce) Kim


Des Moines Area Community College
Newton, Iowa
Liz Ostrem*
Lonnie Appleby*
Sarah Muff*


Downey Adult School
Downey, Calif.
Jennie Ramos
Jenny Yi


Green River College
Auburn, Wash.
Abby Markson
Alexandria Fleming*
Doug Armstrong
Evelyn Jaimez
Heather Game*
Justin Choi*
Kari Derr
Kelsie Alford*
Lindsey Gruntorad
Michelle Overby
Sara Baxter*
Sarah Webb*
Sierra Zanghi*
Spencer Holesinsky*
Svetlana Golub


Hardeman School of Court Reporting
& Captioning (online)
Amy Plaxton*
Angela Cakridas
Brooke Taylor*
Casey Veinotte
Chelsea Morris*
Kaitlin McGowan*
Nick Mulvoy *


Humphreys University
Stockton, Calif.
Araceli Nava
Brittny Boya
Emma Pesusic
Kate Mendoza
Leslie Orr
Ngia Her
Sarah Glover


Lakeshore Technical College
Cleveland, Wis.
Abigail Fowler
Calisa Barta
Catherine Ray
Chad Hirsch
Megan Baeten*
Meredith Seymour
Michelle Miller
Nicole Whelihan
Stacie Pomrening


Macomb Community College
Clinton Township, Mich.
Alexa Lupenec
Cheryl Demanski*
Robert Ludwig
Tonia Miller


Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Abby Robinson
Amanda Hebb
Ariana McCalla*
Ashley De Marco
Bradley Morrison*
Brent Hannam*
Carly Fenske
Christine Rees
Dakota Chartrand
Dayna Canning
Diego Jiles
Dina Vasylevsky
Dyana Pewarchuk
Eileen Johnson
Ester Horvath
Jada Babiuk
Jalene Hutseal
Jameca Nguyen
Jayne Yuill
Jillian Pumphrey
Julie Drew*
Kayla Hotte
Kelcy Sherbank*
Kim Nguyen
Kristina Zeller
Laura Collis
Laura Driscoll
Linsey Eby
Lora Zabiran*
Martina MacFarlane*
McKaya Baril*
Meagan Gibson
Megan Galloway
Melinda Heinrichs
Michelle Gulka
Michelle Klatt*
Michelle Stevens
Nancy Phong
Netannys Turner-Wiens
Nicole Leddy
Presley Thomson
Sarah Pfau
Shauna Lagore
Stephanie Jabbour*
Stephanie Marocco
Yazda Khaled


Plaza College
Forest Hills, N.Y.
Brittany O’Brien
Christina Valentin
Connie Hwang
Dominique Burke
Elisabeth Dempsey
Elizabeth Keating
Ferrina Johnson
Floriana Krifca
Gabrella Tutino
Hazel Elardo Asca
Jerrica Nieves
Justin Centeno
Justine Torres
Kayla Jacobs
Kimberlee Clifford
Lakesha Dubose
Letitia Caceres
Maia Morgan
Melissa Colon
Paradise Rosario
Pashen Hutton
Patricia Alexander
Radhika Rampersand
Ramona Perez
Raven McCants
Rebecca Pierre-Louis
Ruby Mitchell*
Sophian deFrance
Tambra Whitfield
Violeta Marashaj
Yvonne Panigel


Realtime Center for Learning, Inc.
Garden City, N.Y.
Antonia May*
Debbie Babino
Gabrielle Carletti
Joe Altieri
Lisa Previti
Samantha Marshak*


South Suburban College
Oak Forest, Ill.
Amanda Castaldo
Candace Bradley
Cascidy Bandyk
Casey Toomey
Elizabeth Crossin
Hannah Flynn
Jennifer Blum
Kelsey Mikos
Lilly Martlink
Marla Peteet
Valencia Reed


Realtime Center for Learning celebrates NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Court Reporting & Captioning Week was celebrated at the Realtime Center for Learning (RCL) by participating in the NCRA Students’ Speed Tests. RCL has locations in Garden City and Massapequa, N.Y.

“It was really easy for us to incorporate the dictations, word lists and directions for the students’ tests; they had the flexibility of being timed for any speed that a student had last passed. However, passing was 96 percent,” said Harriet Brenner-Gettleman, CMRS, CRI, director and owner of the RCL

“All participants would be named in the next JCR with those that passed being entered into a pool from which Gold, Silver and Bronze winners would be selected with various prizes commiserate with the appropriate level.”

NCRA sent the Literary and Q&A tests already timed out in 20 words with enough material so court reporting faculty who participated were able to give tests from 60 wpm up to 200 wpm in both categories.  According to Brenner-Gettleman, RCL is a unique blend of one in-house night a week for accountability, dictation and test-giving along with having students do between 13 and 20 hours of homework and practice a week.

As such, participating in the NCRA students’ speed contest created a bit of a challenge since there are three speed classes on Tuesday nights and one high speed and two Theory classes on Thursday nights, explained Brenner-Gettleman.

“There were three students who took the test at 100 wpm, another student took it at 120 wpm, but I had to give them separately because they were all really in the same class,” she added.

Students who participated included: Debbie Babino; Gabrielle Carletti; Antonia Moy; Joe Altier; Lisa Previt; and Samantha Marshak.

“Court Reporting & Captioning Week is an opportunity for reminding the students they are part of a larger culture of excellence and dedication,” Brenner-Gettleman said. “We also remind them, if they haven’t already, to join both the New York State Association of Court Reporters and NCRA and to put the upcoming convention dates for both on their calendars.”

Cypress College of Court Reporting celebrates four decades

The Cypress College of Court Reporting (CCCR), Cypress, Calif., celebrated 40 years of program excellence on March 7. The program was originally designed as a licensing program for court reporting students who wanted to become Certified Shorthand Reporters (CSRs). Over the years, it has evolved into a diversified training program, offering an Associate Degree in Court Reporting and an Associate Degree in Law Office Administration.

In addition, CCCR’s program provides training in specialized areas and awards a Certificate of Achievement in the following specialties: Captioning, CART, Legal Administrative Assistant, Legal Transcription, Proofreader, Scoping/Editing, Hearing Reporter, Court Reporting, Court and Agency Services, and Court Reporting Technology.

Recently, the court reporting program started a pilot program with the college to offer captioning services to entities within the North Orange County Community College District. The students who will be performing the captioning services are currently in training.

The college also is involved in a high school outreach program offering students the opportunities to pursue court reporting and legal careers through the college.

Students at CCCR can also participate in the Court Reporting Club with monthly activities. The club offers a variety of scholarships and awards programs.

CCCR is currently the only community college in Southern California offering a court reporting training program.  For more information, contact C. Freer at

Brown College celebrates 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week with a number of events 

Students and faculty at Brown College of Court Reporting (BCCR) in Atlanta, Ga., held a number of events throughout the week to celebrate 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week held Feb. 10-16.

An open house kicked off the week to showcase the profession to prospective students. Attendees were given a tour of the facility, learned how to type a few words on a steno machine, and heard first hand from program graduates about what it is like to work in the field.

The college also held a friendly student competition with a game dubbed, “Grammar Jam.”  The Jeopardy style game had students team up to answer questions in several categories including current events, spelling, punctuation, definitions, medical and legal terminology, and court reporting procedures questions.  Prizes were provided by Janice S. Baker & Associates and  US Legal Support.

The winning team of students included: Thomas Pacheco; Kimesha Smith Stallworth; Andrew Shin; Connor Tatham; and Cindi Drakeford.

Guest speaker Vickie Wiechec, CCR, a past president of the Georgia Court Reporters and Captioners Association, visited the college to talk to more than 70 students on campus and online about the captioning and CART profession, and gave them several takeaways to consider for anyone considering entering the field.

A second guest speaker during the week was Magistrate Judge, Jennifer Mann, who talked to students about the High School Mock Trial competition and Georgia high school participants’ successful history in competition on the national level. She encouraged all BCCR students to participate as court reporters duringseveral rounds that took place in early March at the Gwinnett County Court House. BCCR has been participating in mock trial competitions for the last few years and recently reported that several students participated in the latest competition.

Debbie Kriegshauser, CRR, RMR, an official court reporter at the federal level from St. Louis, Mo., also spoke with students on campus and online about the state of the industry, the importance of certifications, and the importance of finishing school. She not only encouraged students to finish the program, she brought several books from the NCRA Store to give away to campus and online students.

Keys to success for the adult learner

By Kay Moodyportrait of the author

Many adjectives describe the typical court reporting student: busy, mature, single parent, employed, easily frustrated, second career, and self-supporting. Court reporting students are adults who are involved in many demanding, life-changing, time-consuming, and mentally depleting activities that interfere with their focus and concentration and that can sometimes hinder the time they can spend on skill development.

Adult learners are defined as students who are 20 years old or older; for many years, educators thought adults and younger students learned in the same way. Over the years, educational researchers found there are profound differences between adult learning and that of younger students. As an adult student, you must be goal-oriented and know what you hope to achieve every time you are working on your machine. You must identify goals and objectives for every class and practice session, and you will learn best when you view the potential outcome of each class and practice session. You will progress faster if you manage time for your school-related activities so they fit into your busy life.

Listed below are five critical elements that promote learning for adults: Motivation, Time Management, Reinforcement, Transfer of Learning, and Retention.

  1. Motivation : The best way to feel motivated is to make every class relevant and meaningful. Don’t think of activities as busy work or nonproductive. You will be motivated when you know the relevance of every course, every class, every assignment, and every practice session. If you can’t identity the objective of an assignment, ask your instructor what the expected outcome or purpose of the assignment is. Insist that your instructors give you immediate, constructive, and specific feedback.


  1. Time Management: Like most adult learners, you are probably busy and don’t have large blocks of uninterrupted time. Plan time you can practice when your family and friends won’t disturb you: during their favorite TV show, when they’re at school or taking a nap, before and after they’ve gone to bed, etc. You can find ways to squeeze in 5, 10, 15 minutes three times every day for drills, to read back shorthand notes, or for memorizing and reviewing outlines. For instance, if you work full-time, plan to work on non-machine activities during your lunch hour and break time, and, during your commute, visualize writing on your machine while listening to audio tapes. In developing your plan, don’t try to do more than one thing at a given time. Schedule the more difficult tasks early in the day when you’re well-rested.


  1. Reinforcement: Adult students need constant reinforcement in a variety of ways. Drills are essential for learning, reviewing, and reinforcement of briefs, phrases, multisyllabic words, difficult outlines, etc. Try practicing the same drill for 10 minutes every day until you can write it perfectly! Speed is developed through repetition by hearing the same take over and over again. Read back each take, mark errors and words that caused you to hesitate, and drill on those words. Repeat the selection and continue until you can write it.

You should benefit from every class — even a class in which you wrote poorly because this is when you can identify your weaknesses and develop strengths. Keep a journal to see what you need to review, tape the class, and work out the difficult parts until you master the selection that you wrote poorly.


  1. Transfer of learning: The fourth element that promotes adult learning is transfer of learning: the ability to apply or use information in a new or different setting. This is the importance of working on drills and how they help students progress. Work on drills that eliminate your weaknesses. For instance, if you had a speedbuilding take that was difficult because it had a lot of proper names, work on writing proper names at least once a day. You can make up a list from names in the newspaper, your address book, the teachers at your child’s school, etc. Once you get used to writing proper names through drill work, transfer of learning will automatically take place when taking dictation. Other drills include briefs, phrases, numbers, alphabets, foreign words, homophones, and word families. Use external memory aids such as a whiteboard or bulletin board, Post-It Notes, and notebooks to help you memorize and remember the correct outlines.


  1. Retention: The fifth major element that promotes learning is your ability to retain information. This pertains to learning new outlines for difficult words, briefs, and phrases.

Principles of Retention

  • Adults retain 10 percent of what they read.
  • Adults retain 20 percent of what they write.
  • Adults retain 30 percent of what they see.
  • Adults retain 50 percent of what they see, hear, and write.
  • Adults retain 90 to 100 percent of what they see, hear, write, read, and repeat many times.

To learn and retain new outlines:  first of all read a steno outline; write it on your machine; then read the steno that you’ve written, saying it out loud while you read; write the outline again while visualizing the outline in shorthand; continue until going through the steps until you can write the outline with 100 percent accuracy. For additional information and ideas, go to the following website:

Adults can progress quickly through court reporting school when they use the correct study and practice skills by incorporating the five critical element of effective adult learning:  Motivation, Time Management, Reinforcement, Transfer of Learning, and Retention.

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